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Born in 1933 in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, Ko Un is Korea's foremost living writer. After immense suffering during the Korean War, he became a Buddhist monk. His first poems were published in 1958, then a few years later he returned to the world. He became a leading spokesman in the struggle for freedom and democracy during the 1970s and 1980s, in a struggle for which he was often arrested and imprisoned. He has published more than 120 volumes of poems, essays, and fiction. In recent years, selections from his work have been translated into at least fourteen languages, including 4 volumes so far published in English: The Sound of My Waves (Cornell EAS) and Beyond Self: Zen Poems (Parallax) were published in the 1990s, Little Pilgrim (Parallax) and Ten Thousand Lives (Green Integer) have been published in 2005. He has been invited to talk and give readings of his work at major poetry and literary festivals in many countries.