Today’s Google Doodle denotes the 117th birthday of Jeong Ji-yong, an author, translator, and teacher whose work experienced a resurgence in the late 1980s and who is currently broadly considered a pioneer of modern Korean poetry. The Doodle was made by Seoul-based visitor artist, Mikyung Lee.
In 1902, on this day, born in Hage-ri village of Ocheon County in Chungchong province, Jeong Ji-Yong grew up during the Japanese occupation of Korea. He published his first poem in 1919 and afterward traveled to Japan to study English at Doishha University, writing his thesis on British artist and poet William Blake.
As a Korean living in a different nation, his poetry from this period expressed a sense of longing for home. Among his best-loved poems is 향수, or “Nostalgia,” published in 1923. Adapted into a song, it has become popular on Korean radio, bringing out memories of life in a nation village, punctuated with the haunting refrain: “Could it ever be forgotten, even in one’s dreams?”
Famous for his powerful imagery and basic yet evocative verse, Jeong Ji-yong kept publishing poetry and teaching high school English at his alma mater—and later at Ewha Women’s University—until his unexplained vanishing around 1950. The Jeong Ji-yong Literature Prize was set up in 1989 to recognize emerging writers and keep his legacy alive.