When the Plug Gets Unplugged

Kim Hyesoon (b. 1955) currently teaches creative writing at Seoul College of Arts. The poems in the chapbook were selected from Kim’s two books: Pulssanghan sarang kikye (Poor Love Machine, 1997), and Talryk kongjang kongjangjangnim poseyo (Calendar Factory, Factory Supervisor, Please Look, 2000). Her poetry resists the enormous pressure to conform to the male-dominated lyrical poetry.

Don Mee Choi was born in South Korea. She now lives in Seattle and translates the poetry of contemporary Korean women poets. Her translations of Kim Hyesoon have appeared in journals such as Arts & Letters, Circumference, Prairie Schooner, and positions: east asia cultures critique.


When the Plug Gets Unplugged
Poems by Kim Hyesoon • Translated by Don Mee Choi • 2005 • $8
Design by Michael Cueva


The poems in When the Plug Gets Unplugged, by prominent Korean poet, Kim Hyesoon, are spoken by rats, rats who forage, rats endangered by human beings, rats who listen to people die in a collapsing department store–rats who are, in other words, the voices of modern Seoul, or (to risk the pun) the modern soul. Kim Hyesoon’s work is only know receiving the attention it deserves in the United States, due to the efforts of her fine translator, Don Mee Choi. Anyone interested in poetry from Korea, or poetry written in a distinctive voice, should read this collection.

from “Conservatism of the Rats of Seoul”:

By morning all is quiet–he must have left
Mommy finally gets up and breathes
Mommy bits and kills each one of us
for giving off a suspicious scent from last night’s terror
She kills us then eats our intestines,
grinds her teeth against a wall
then digs out our eyeballs to eat
then there is no one
As always, only Daddy and Mommy are left
it looks as if Mommy is expecting another litter.


Read a review of this chapbook and a larger collection by K. Silem Mohammad.