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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.2, 249 ~ 266, 2020
Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Translation: Translation in and of Please Look After Mom
Jaeeun Yoo
In 2011, Please Look After Mom, a translation of a mega-bestseller novel in Korea, entered the American literary market with a significant commercial success. A close analysis of the translation, along with the celebration and controversy it caused on both sides of the pacific, reveal interesting and often paradoxical ideas about translation and its role in introducing cultural differences. The Korean original, Ommarul Put’akhae, employs translation to signify radical unsettling differences, and as a metaphor that epitomizes a meeting between the self and the other, translation raises questions concerning the complex relationship one has with the other. The translation of Please Look After Mom reduces critical layers of the original novel, and the reason why it was noted and read by many American readers had more to do with the U.S. than with Korea―more specifically, the cultural dilemma that the U.S. found itself in after 9/11. At the same time, however, Please Look After Mom retains and even possibly strengthens the peculiar way in which translation is thematized in the Korean source text. In other words, as a metaphor that epitomizes a contact between the self and the other, translation in and of Please Look After Mom raises important questions concerning national identities, cultural differences, international politics and interpersonal responsibilities. This article reads Please Look After Mom not only as a translated text, but also as a cultural phenomenon to examine cultural and political forces at work at the site of translation today.
Key Words
Translation, Please Look After Mom, Ommarul Put`akhae, Multiculturalism, Nationalism
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