Korean poet, writer, and activist Ko Un was born in Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do. He was drawn to poetry after discovering the early work of Han Ha-Un, a nomadic Korean poet with leprosy. After witnessing the devastation of the Korean War, Ko entered a monastery and became a Buddhist monk. He left the Buddhist community in 1962. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Ko was detained, tortured, and imprisoned repeatedly for his opposition to the military regime.
Ko has twice won the South Korean Literature Prize and received the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award. He was elected chairman of the Association of Writers for National Literature and was chosen president of the Compilation Committee of the Grand Inter-Korean Dictionary. He has taught at Seoul National University, Kyonggi University, Harvard University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Ko lives in South Korea.
This week’s podcast extra of the Bob Thurman Podcast was brought to you in part through the support of the Tibet House US Membership Community and Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa in Phoenicia, New York.
Excerpts from this recording originally appeared as apart of “Vimalakīrti’s Verses on Cool Heroes and Heroism” Episode #184 of the Bob Thurman Podcast.
To listen to the original recording please visit: www.archive.org.
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Gary Gregory Gach is an author, translator, and editor living in San Francisco. A dynamic speaker and teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism his works include the anthology “What Book!? Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop” and the forthcoming “Pause Breathe Smile – Awakening Mindfulness When Meditation is Not Enough”.