Kim Yideum

Translated by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi
ISBN 978-0-900575-82-2 | $18.00 | March 20, 2019

Next to the burning police station
I want to tear out my womb and kick it to heaven.

Kim Yideum’s second collection to appear in English continues to evoke the grotesqueries of her first work, while simultaneously delving further into the materiality of everyday life. Through an overflowing that echoes fellow feminist poet Kim Hyesoon, and a blunt, down to earth language that is unique to the poems, Hysteria rides through the surface of wage labor, patriarchy, and subsistence, proceeding through a variety of personas, human and otherwise, along an intensity that demands to be seen as it is, to be taken at face value.


“One of the co-translators of this good-humored and confrontational book notes in his afterword that the style of Korean poet Kim Yideum is ‘intentionally excessive . . . and irrational.’ Her speaker is a hipster who makes brash statements about quotidian experiences that may occur in any crowded city. In the title poem, a woman being groped on the subway imagines her revenge: ‘I want to kill the motherfucker. . . . If only I could go to the sandy beach on the red coast, moonlit. There, beside the cool waters, I would lay him down. If only.’ Yideum turns her glance on her specifically Korean milieu as well. An intriguing, illuminating volume.”

—2020 National Translation Award Judges’ Citation 

“Kim Yideum’s Hysteria, translated by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi, resists established Korean literary culture in the tradition of Korean feminist poetics. Page by page, Yideum’s poems against rationality, lyricism, and polite society reckon with both political and personal revolutions. Accordingly, the rendering of her poems across languages is multifold as Yideum’s words must be as intentionally irrational as historical oppression. These taut, unsettled poems burst into flames in the hands of the reader, a burning fuse creating a clear path for contemporary Korean women’s poetry.”

—2020 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize Judges’ Citation 

“In Kim Yideum‘s elegant and grotesque poetry, objective cool, violence and despairing megalomania all rage with the crystal-clear bitterness of vulnerability. When you read her beautiful, terrifying poems, you will go to pieces.”

—Aase Berg

“Kim Yideum’s poetry is the landscape of confession. The confession flows inside the landscape and the landscape soars inside the confession. These two elements of her poetry are interconnected in the way eros gets pulled up to the divine place. Her poetry appears as poetry, it also appears as prose. As poetry, it’s polyphonic, and as prose, it’s defiant. Her poetry is the theater of multiple personality. You hear the voices of hundreds of people, hundreds of things. These naked living things become her poetic subjects. In each poem, the different sensations of each body are invented. She punishes herself and accepts her own unsightly, gutless face. Her poetry is engaged in the difficult process of discovering the other inside her. Her rhythm, which emerges from the fishnet of interconnections, bites power and sets her free. ”

—Kim Hyesoon


Kim Yideum is the author of 7 collections of poetry, 1 short fiction book and 2 books of essays. For the last year she has run a café and social space called Book Café Yideum. In October she started her own publication, Paper Yideum, which she runs out of the café. The first issue was a theme issue that included the work of 8 young Korean writers living in America. Her first book in English, Cheer Up, Femme Fatale, was published by Action Books in 2015.


Jake Levine is an American translator, poet, and sometimes critic. He received both his B.A and M.F.A from the University of Arizona and is currently working on a PhD in Comparative Literature at Seoul National University. He works as an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Keimyung University and as a lecturer at the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. He is the editor of literature-in-translation at Acta Koreana and the Korean series editor at Black Ocean.

Soeun Seo is a poet, a fiction writer, and a freelance translator from South Korea. Her translations have appeared at Hayden’s Ferry Review, Circumference, and “시와 시평” (“Poetry and Criticism”). Her original poems have been published at Hayden’s Ferry Review, Potluck Magazine, Witch Craft Magazine, and Fuck Art, Let’s Dance. She is currently attending the Michener Center for Writers.

Hedgie Choi is a graduate of Yonsei University. She is currently attending the Michener Center for Writers.