Back to listSep 15, 2012

SGI-Korea Sponsors 78th PEN International Congress

The 78th PEN International CongressThe 78th PEN International Congress in Gyeongju, Korea

From September 9-15, the PEN International Korean Center hosted the 78th PEN International Congress at the Hyundai Hotel in Gyeongju, Korea, under the theme “Literature, Media and Human Rights,” focusing on the impact of media on literature and its role in defending the right to freedom of expression, including digital freedom. Some 1,000 writers from over 80 countries and territories participated in the various sessions and side events, which included literary forums, book signings, readings and exhibitions. SGI-Korea was one of four official sponsors of the event, alongside Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, the local government of Gyeongju, and the Korea Radioactive Waste Management Corporation.

Wole Soyinka viewing the SGI-Korea exhibitionWole Soyinka viewing the SGI-Korea exhibition

Founded in 1921 to celebrate literature and promote freedom of expression, PEN International is a global association of writers that continues to act as a powerful voice on behalf of writers worldwide who are persecuted, imprisoned and attacked for their views. At this year's PEN Congress, keynote speakers included Wole Soyinka, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature (Nigeria); Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature (France); Orhan Pamuk, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature (Turkey); and O Young Lee, advisor of the major Korean newspaper JoongAng IIbo and honorary professor of the Ewha Academy for Advanced Studies (Korea).

As an official sponsor, SGI-Korea representatives attended the opening ceremony and side events, and set up an exhibition at the Congress from September 10-14, introducing SGI President Ikeda's philosophy and writings and SGI-Korea's contributions to peace, culture and education.

Upon viewing the SGI exhibition, Wole Soyinka expressed his appreciation for SGI-Korea's support of the 78th PEN Congress and their continued efforts to promote respect for cultural diversity and human rights. He recalled his meeting with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in 1987 in Kobe and the friendship they have enjoyed since. As a playwright and poet, the distinguished Nigerian writer is a powerful advocate of Africa's indigenous cultures.

[Adapted from a report from SGI-Korea; photos courtesy of SGI-Korea]