Park Gwan-Hyun Poem by Ko Un

Park Gwan-Hyun

He himself lamented that his death came late.
But his death did come
when he had to die.
Three years after the Gwangju Uprising
he died in a prison,
not on Kunnam-ro Street,
Park Gwan-hyun, a son of Mudeung Mountain.
He ran
when the airborne martial troops
were crisscrossing Gwangju.
He hid himself
waiting for the time to fight,
and he ran again,
Park Gwan-hyun, President of the Student Government Council
at Chonnam National University.

He crossed to Dolsan in Yeosu
after the martial troops occupied Gwangju,
slaying their way into the city.
He missed the battle of Gwangju,
and went over to Amtaedo Island and Chorando Island in Mokpo.
And then in June that year
he ran to Seoul.
Park Gwan-hyun, a wanted man,
ran again in Seoul
just before his arrest.
He worked at a small factory
under the name of Park Gun-wook;
he hid himself there for one year and ten months
but was finally arrested.
In prison,
he fought and fought,
eating rice mixed with sunflower seeds,
but he died in the prison,
Park Gwan-hyun, thirty years old.

Park Gwan-hyun who shouted like a lion
on the night of May 10, 1980,
on the water fountain in front of Provincial Hall,
to tens of thousands citizens and students,
"My comrades, the reason we are having this torch parade
Is to make democracy bloom in this land
And to achieve national reunification."
Even his body was taken away,
and there was no funeral for him.
He was buried in the red-clay mountain
Youngkwang, in his hometown.
Why did you go
on a moonlit night?
A moonlit night that is not ours yet,
a dawn that is not ours yet-
why did you go for good
on a moonlit dawn?

But Park Gwan-hyun,
whenever people are silent
and Mudeung Mountain shouts,
Park Gwan-hun rises
and comes to Kunnam-ro Street.
He comes to the stormy Kunnam-ro Street,

Ko Un

Ko Un

North Jeolla Province / South Korea
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