Toji Cultural Center Program

Pak Kyongni Prize

Pak Kyongni Prize

The Pak Kyongni Prize was established by the Toji Cultural Foundation to commemorate the late author Pak Kyongni (1926 - 2008) and to contribute to the development of world literature. The prize is awarded for life-long literary achievements evident in the entire body of works by one author, not just a single title of excellence. Each year a novelist who has made a lasting impact in the global literary scene is chosen as the winner, and the award ceremony takes place at the Toji Cultural Center on the last Saturday of October.

1. Purpose

The Pak Kyongni Prize was established by the Toji Cultural Foundation to commemorate and promote the great spirit of letters the late author Pak Kyongni displayed in her saga Land (Toji). In the great panorama of this work, she vividly portrayed the desperate struggles of the Korean people in the turmoil of their recent history, as they sought to achieve liberation from Japanese imperialism, and attain freedom and democracy, at a time when they were suffering from class-divisions and exploitation in a poverty-stricken land under foreign occupation.

The prize is awarded each year to a writer who has made a distinguished contribution toward the development of a pure spirit of letters similar to that of Pak Kyongni. In this way, it is hoped that the writings of Pak Kyongni, which were nourished by her native soil, will be enriched in such a way as to sustain the original value of literature itself. The prize is also designed to be a "prestigious world prize for literature," in order to propagate widely the spirit of letters alive in Korea following Pak Kyongni's literary achievements.

2. Prize

Prize money and certificate will be awarded to a writer, whose work is found to represent a great literary achievement, deserving to be remembered in the history of world literature.

3. Criteria for Candidates

A) Writers whose oeuvres represent an outstanding literary achievement.
B) Writers whose works are highly regarded across the world and who have exercised a great influence on world literature.
C) Writers who are alive and active in creative work.

4. Principles for Nomination

A) To reflect the purposes of the Pak Kyongni prize.
B) The prize will be awarded to only one writer each year.

The Pak Kyongni Prize Committee has been administering the Pak Kyongni Prize since 2011. Screening Committee members are selected from among leading members of the Korean and international literary community and include both writers and literary critics


2018 Richard Ford(USA)

2017 Antonia Susan Byatt (UK)

2016 Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)

2015 Amos Oz (Israel)

2014 Bernhard Schlink (Germany)

2013 Marilynne Robinson (USA)

2012 Ludmila Ulitskaya (Russia)

2011 Choi In-Hoon (Korea)


Richard Ford (USA), winner of the 8th Pak Kyongni Prize in 2018

Richard Ford (born February 16, 1944) is an American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land and Let Me Be Frank With You, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories.

○ Awards and honors
2016 Princess of Asturias Award (Literature)
2015 awarded the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature award which is given annually in Rockville Maryland, the city where Fitzgerald, his wife, and his daughter are buried as part of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival.
2015 finalist, Pulitzer Prize (Fiction), for Let Me Be Frank with You
2013 Prix Femina étranger, for Canada
2013 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, for Canada
2008 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement
2005 St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates
2001 PEN/Malamud Award, for excellence in short fiction
1995 PEN/Faulkner Award, for Independence Day
1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for Independence Day
1995 Rea Award for the Short Story, for outstanding achievement in that genre
○ Novels
A Piece of My Heart (1976), The Ultimate Good Luck (1981), The Sportswriter (1986),
Wildlife (1990),Independence Day (1995),The Lay of the Land (2006),Canada (2013)
○ Story collections
Rock Springs (1987),Women with Men: Three Stories (1997),A Multitude of Sins (2002),Vintage Ford (2004),Let Me Be Frank With You (2014) — collects 4 novellas: I'm Here; Everything Could Be Worse; The New Normal; and Deaths of Others

Antonia Susan Byatt (UK), Winner of the 7th Pak Kyongni Prize in 2017

Antonia Susan Byatt (born 24 August 1936) was born in Sheffield as Antonia Susan Drabble. English novelist, poet and Booker Prize winner. In 2008, The Times newspaper named her on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

○ Education
Sheffield High School; The Mount School, York; Newnham College, Cambridge (BA Hons; Hon. Fellow 1999); Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, USA; Somerville College, Oxford.
○ Academic employment
Extra-Mural Lecturer, University of London, 1962-71.
Lecturer in Literature, Central School of Art and Design, 1965-69.
Lecturer in English, 1972-81, Senior. Lecturer, 1981-83, University College London.
○ Academic Honours:
Honorary Fellow, London Institute, 2000.
Fellow, University College London, 2004.
Hon. DLitt: Bradford, 1987; DUniv York, 1991; Durham, 1991; Nottingham, 1992; Liverpool, 1993; Portsmouth, 1994; London, 1995; Cambridge, 1999; Sheffield, 2000; Kent 2004, Winchester 2007; Leiden, 2010;
○ Prizes
• The PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Of Fiction prize, 1986 for Still Life.
• The Booker Prize, 1990, for Possession.
• Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize, 1990 for Possession.
• The Eurasian section of Best Book in Commonwealth Prize, 1991 for Possession.
• Premio Malaparte, Capri, 1995.
• Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, 1995, for The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye.
• Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, California, 1998 for The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye.
• Shakespeare Prize, Toepfer Foundation, Hamburg, 2002.
• Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix, Canada 2009.
• James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), 2010, for The Children’s Book.
• The Erasmus Prize, Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, Amsterdam, 2016.
• Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award (to be presented in 2018)
○ Publications:
The Shadow of the Sun1964, Degrees of Freedom 1965, The Game 1967,Wordsworth and Coleridge in their Time 1970 ,Iris Murdoch: A Critical Study 1976,The Virgin in the Garden, 1978, Sugar and Other Stories 1987,George Eliot: selected essays1989,Possession: a romance 1990,Robert Browning's Dramatic Monologues 1990,Passions of the Mind (essays) 1991,Angels and Insects (novellae)1992, The Matisse Stories (short stories),1993
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye: five fairy stories, 1994
Imagining Characters, 1995 (joint editor)
New Writing 4, 1995 (joint editor)
Babel Tower, 1996
New Writing 6, 1997 (joint editor)
The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, 1998 (editor)
Elementals: Stories of fire and ice (short stories), 1998
The Biographer's Tale, 2000
On Histories and Stories (essays), 2000
Portraits in Fiction, 2001
The Bird Hand Book, 2001 (Photographs by Victor Schrager, Text by AS Byatt);
A Whistling Woman, 2002
Little Black Book of Stories, 2003
The Children’s Book, 2009
Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, 2011
Peacock & Vine, 2016
○ Film
Angels and Insects filmed 1996; Directed by Philip Haas
Possession: a romance filmed 2002; Directed by Neil LaBute
Medusa’s Ankles, filmed 2016; Directed by Bonnie Wright
○ Radio
The Frederica Quartet (2002), BBC Radio; dramatised in 30 episodes by John Harvey and produced by Jeremy Mortimer.
Gode’s Story (2010) BBC Radio; reading, 1 episode

Ngugl wa Thiong'o (Kenya), Winner of the 6th Pak Kyongni Prize in 2016

Ngugi wa Thiong'o is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is a recipient of ten Honorary Doctorates, is a Fellow of the MLA, an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a 2014 fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Ngugi, formerly Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Languages and Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies, New York University, is a novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic and social activist from Kenya.

The Kenya of his birth and youth was a British settler colony (1895-1963). As an adolescent, he lived through the Mau Mau War of Independence (1952-1962), the central historical episode in the making of modern Kenya and a major theme in his early works.

His works include:
Weep not Child (London, 1964)
The River Between (London, 1965)
A Grain of Wheat (London, 1967)
Secret Lives (London, 1969)
Petals of Blood, (London, 1977)

The year 1977 forced dramatic turns in Ngugi’s life and career. Petals of Blood painted a harsh and unsparing picture of life in neo-colonial Kenya. That same year Ngugi’s controversial play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), written with Ngugi wa Mirii, was performed at Kamirithu Educational and Cultural Center, Limuru, in an open air theatre. Sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society, Ngugi was arrested and imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maxium Security Prison. An account of those experiences can be found in his memoir, Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary. After Amnesty International named him a Prisoner of Conscience, an international campaign secured his release a year later, December 1978. He resumed his writings and his activities in the theater and in so doing, continued to be an uncomfortable voice for the Moi dictatorship. While in Britain for the launch and promotion of Devil on the Cross, he learned about the Moi regime’s plot to eliminate him on his return. This forced him into exile, first in Britain (1982 – 1989) and then the U. S. (1989 – 2002). He remained in exile for the duration of the Moi dictatorship. When he and his wife, Njeeri returned to Kenya in 2004 after twenty-two years in exile, they were attacked by four hired gunmen and narrowly escaped with their lives.

Caitaani Mũtharabainĩ (Nairobi, 1980)
(English trans: Devil on the Cross (London), 1982)
Detained: A Writers Prison Diary, (London, 1982)
Matigari Ma Njirũũngi (Nairobi, 1986)
English trans: Matigari, (London, 1989);
Homecoming (London, 1969);
Decolonising the Mind (London, 1986)
Moving the Centre (London, 1993)
Writers in Politics (London, 1997)
Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams, (Oxford, 1998)
The Black Hermit (London, 1969)
This Time Tomorrow (Nairobi, 1972)
The Trial of Dedan Kimathi, (with Micere Mugo) (London, 1976)
Ngaahika Ndeenda, (with Ngugi wa Mĩriĩ) (Nairobi, 1980)
(English trans: I Will Marry When I Want, (London, 1982)
Murogi wa Kagogo (Nairobi, 2004)
English trans: Wizard of the Crow (New York, 2006)
Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance (New York, 2009)
Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir (New York, 2010)

Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing, (NY: Columbia U. Press, 2012)
In the House of the Interpreter (New York, 2012)
Ngugi’s 3rd memoir: Birth of a Dreamweaver: A Writer’s Awakening will be published in October by The New Press.

Amos Oz (Israel), Winner of the 5th Pak Kyongni Prize in 2015

Amos Oz (4 May 1939 ~ 28 December 2018) was an Israeli writer, novelist, journalist, and intellectual. He was also a professor of Hebrew literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. From 1967 onwards, Oz was a prominent advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.


1939 Born in Jerusalem
1957-1986 Served as a member of Kibbutz Hulda
1963 Graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
1963-86 Teacher of literature and philosophy, Hulda High School and Regional High School at Givat Brenner
1965 Published the first collection of short stories, Where the Jackal Howls, and received the Israel Holon Municipal Prize for Literature
1966 Published the first novel, Elswhere, Perhaps
1967 Was involved in the Committe for Peace and Security and in the Moked and Sheli movements
1978 Co-founded Peace Now(Shalom Achshav), advocating peace in Israel
1987 Received Prix Femina for Black Box for the best foreign novel in France
1987-2014 Full Professor of Hebrew Literature, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba
1992 Received Peace Prize at Frankfurt International Book Fair, awarded by German Publishers’ and Booksellers' Association
1997 Received Knight's Cross of the Legion d'Honneur of the Republic of France
2002 Freedom of Expression Prize, awarded by the Norwegian Authors' Union ; International Medal of Tolerance, awarded by the Polish Ecumenical Council
2003 Became a leader of "The Geneva Initiative," an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Movement
2005 Received Goethe Prize (Frankfurt) for lifetime literary and essayistic work, with an emphasis on A Tale Of Love And Darkness
2008 Received Heinrich Heine Prize, City of Dusseldorf, Germany
2010 The Readers Prize of Torino International Literary Festival
2013 International Franz Kafka Prize
2014 The Jewish national award for book of the year for Between Friends, USA

Bernhard Schlink (Germany), Winner of the 4th Pak Kyongni Prize in 2014:

Born in Germany in 1944, Bernhard Schlink is a lawyer and writer. He studied law at both the University of Heidelberg and the Free University of Berlin. He was a law professor at the University of Bonn and Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main before he joined Humboldt University of Berlin in 1992. He retired in 2009. His career as a writer began with the publication of the detective story Self's Punishment in 1987. Schlink was twice the recipient of the Glauser Prize for his works The Gordian Knot (1988) and Self’s Murder (2001). He is best known for The Reader (1995), which was adapted to film and became the first German book to reach number one on the New York Times bestseller list. The novel won a number of major awards around the world including in Germany, Italy and France.

Marilynne Robinson (USA), Winner of the 3rd Pak Kyongni Prize in 2013

Marilynne Robinson was born in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1943 and did her undergraduate work in American Literature at Pembroke College, the former women's college at Brown University.
She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Washington in 1977. She has been a writer-in-residence or visiting professor at many universities, including the University of Kent, Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst's MFA Program for Poets and Writers. Her novels include Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004), and Home (2008). She is also a distinguished writer of non-fiction books such as Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989), The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998), and Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (2010).

Ludmila Ulitskaya (Russia), Winner of the 2nd Pak Kyongni Prize in 2012

Born in 1943 in the town of Davlekanovo in Russia, Lyudmila Ulitskaya received a degree in biology from the Moscow State University. After working in the field of genetics and biochemistry, Ulitskaya joined the Hebrew Theatre of Moscow as a literary consultant and scriptwriter. Ulitskaya's first novella, Sonechka (1992), was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Award. It later earned her Medici Prize (1998, France) and Giuseppe Acerbi Award (1998, Italy). In 2001 Ulitskaya became the first woman to receive the Russian Booker Award for Kukotsky's Case (2001). Other works by Ulitskaya include The Queen of Spades (1998) and Daniel Stein, Translator (2006). She has received several international and Russian literary awards.

Choi In-hun (Korea), winner of the 1st Pak Kyongni Prize in 2011

Choi In-hun (13 April 1935 – 23 July 2018) was born in Hoeryong, North Hamgyeong Province, and later dropped out of the College of Law at Seoul National University. Between 1977 and 2001 he served as a Professor of Creative Writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. In 1959 he debuted as a novelist when his works “The Grey Club” and “The Tale of Raul” were published in the literary magazine Jayu Munhak at the recommendation of Ahn Soo-gil. The following year saw the publication of the novella “The Square” (1960). He went on to write a number of novels including A Grey Man (1963), Journey to the West (1966), One Day in the Life of Novelist Kubo (1969), and Typhoon (1973). He has been lauded as one of the greatest post-war writers in Korea.