Poets with titles: Korea’s deungdan system

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The traditional romantic myth of poetry involves the poet refusing to accept mundane titles in favour of being authentic and autonomous. Taking Korean poets as an example and drawing on interview data, this study investigates whether the binary of the poet without a title and the non-poet with a title persists. Korea has a strong certification system called deungdan, through which aspirants acquire the professional title of poet, and a relatively viable market in which poets can make a name for themselves through high sales. Korean poets–characterised by the salient utility of a title–exemplify a well-defined, patterned interplay between internality and externality, which they utilise to manage their lives and careers. In contrast to the romantic myth, contemporary Koreans embrace the external title but not wholeheartedly, as they remain committed to poetry while understanding the profession’s disadvantages. Thus, the romantic myth of the poet may be redefined to correspond with the complexity of professional life, which requires both the public title of ‘poet’ and a personal dedication to poetry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-465
Number of pages14
JournalNew Writing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Yonsei University [Grant Number 2019-22-0025]. I am grateful to Dan Disney for his comments and suggestions for this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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