“The Physics of Love” by Kim In-yook

Ever since I first watched the Korean drama 쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비, known in English as Guardian: The Great and Lonely God or simply Goblin, I have been obsessed with the poem the male lead (Kim Shin, an immortal goblin) reads from an anthology the female lead (Ji Eun-tak, his prophesized bride) carries around with her. That anthology became a bestseller in 2016 after audiences fell in love with the piece. Poet Kim In-yook then re-released the original collection of his that contained it, under the new title The Physics of Love, the name of the poem the goblin reads.

The subtitles contain a decent translation, but I thought I would try my hand at something slightly more poetic.

The Physics of Love

Mass is not proportional to volume.

That girl as small as a violet,
that girl who floats like a petal
pulls me toward her with a force
greater than the Earth’s mass.

In an instant,
like Newton’s apple,
I dropped with a thump
and rolled to her
without stopping.

Thump.
Thump.
My dizzy heart kept swinging
between Heaven and Earth—
it was my first love.

—translated by David Bowles
September 23, 2021

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Original Korean

사랑의 물리학

질량의 크기는 부피와 비례하지 않는다

제비꽃같이 조그마한 그 계집애가
꽃잎같이 하늘거리는 그 계집애가
지구보다 더 큰 질량으로 나를 끌어당긴다.
순간, 나는
뉴턴의 사과처럼
사정없이 그녀에게로 굴러 떨어졌다
쿵 소리를 내며, 쿵쿵 소리를 내며

심장이
하늘에서땅까지
아찔한 진자운동을 계속하였다
첫사랑이었다.

10 Comments

  1. I love these Korean poems! I hope you will keep posting them! Thank you so much

  2. Thank you very much. I also love this poem so much.

  3. Thank you so much. I have been looking for this ever since I watched goblin.

  4. Is there any place that the English translation is available?

  5. Thank you for posting this. I love this poem. That scene was one of my favorite scenes in that drama.

  6. Thank you for this page. When can i get the book. I live in India and i can not find it anywhere. Could you suggest any sites for online reading?

  7. Thank you for translating this poem. Your translation is wonderful. If you ever decide to translate the book that made this movie “Guardian: The Great and Lonely God “, please let me know. I would love to purchase it.

  8. Fall in love with the sense and the poem……❤️

  9. I literally just finished watching episode 4 of Guardian, googling the poem The Physics of Love and found your page. I thought The King: Eternal Monarch was my favorite all time ever series but now I think it has been upstaged by this wonderful tale, this poem stirring something within me, at the end of the episode. The writer of these two series is a truly gifted talent, weaving poetry and tale together to create something magical, not easy to put into words because it is so much an essence of something hard to explain. Thank you for your page.

  10. Am trying to purchase the book in transliteration in English. Having no luck
    Advice

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