South Korean Poet Accused of Harassment/Port Mortem Tax notice for Indian Poet – Poetry News Roundup February 9th

In our final news round-up of the week, we take a look at an article from South Korea about a poet accused of sexual harassment. We also have an article about a tax notice issued to a deceased poet in India.

Top South Korean Poet in Sexual Harassment Scandal

The sexual harassment scandal that has been ripping through the world of television and sport has now hit the literary world.

In her recent poem “Monster” a South Korean poet, Choi Young-Mi, has described the sexual harassment that she claims to have suffered at the hands of a famed poet who she refers to only as “En”.

Despite appearing on television for interviews since the release of the poem Choi Young-Mi has not identified “En”, however, the media and social commentators have noticed that many of the biographical details of the character match those of an 84-year old poet. Ko Un. The former Buddist monk, one of the most respected contemporary poets in South Korea, who is a very outspoken political campaigner who wants to see reunification with the North has been regularly tipped for the Nobel prize for Literature.

This accusation has rocked South Korea, accusations of this kind are indeed very rare. Patriarchal values are very deeply ingrained in the culture and chastity and obedience are still qualities expected from women. The #MeToo movement has had very little impact in Korea

Choi, who has published a number of books says that not only was the subject of her poem a “repeat offender” but that during the 1990’s it was very much commonplace for single young female poets to be targeted by the “Literary Elders”, who could and did reject work time after time.

One of South Koreas newspapers says that it has interviewed Ko and have quoted him as saying:

Poet Receives Tax Notice

Under most circumstances, there would be nothing unusual about anyone receiving a tax notice, and it isn’t normally the kind of thing that makes it to the newspapers, however, in this case, the tax notice has been issued in the name of Mahadevi Varma, the late poet and women’s activist.

The issuing civic office has requested that the poet appear in person in order to pay the sum of Rs 44,816 which it is owed as pending house tax, the only problem is that the poet passed away 30 years ago! The notice goes on to state that if Verma does not attend then her house in Nevada, Ashok Nagar could also be under threat. According to their records the house, which is still in the name of the late poet has had no house tax paid on it for a number of years.

Verma’s family claim that following the death of the poet an application was made to transfer the house into a trust – this would have the effect of potentially exempting the house from housing tax – but that the file must have been misplaced if this hasn’t been done.



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