This article was written to review Kim So Wol’s awareness of poetry and the poetic limit in his poems through the analysis of water image shown in his poems.
Kim So Wol shows his strong awareness of limit about life even from his poetic starting stage. This comes from human limit that they should live a mortal and temporary life, and this kind of a poet’s awareness of limit greatly helps us to understand the meaning of “Nim”(lover) and "Gohyang”(hometown), which are the core of Kim So Wol’s poems. Even if “Nim”(lover) and “Gohyang''(hometown) are the only path to Kim So Wol. by which he can identify life’s substantial value, it is impossible to acquire life's value since these lie in an absolutely absent state.
However, the thing that we can’t overlook is that not only Kim So Wol’s “Nim”(lover) and “Gohyang’’(hometown) have the symbolic and complex meaning but also they are the vocabularies of which the extensive meaning can he infinitely extended. Therefore, we have to see these as the things that have root meaning, and his awareness of life’s limit, which he had shown from the early beginning times, makes it possible for us to grasp "Nim"(lover) and “Gohyang”(hometown) as the concept of substantial original form. In other words, these can be understood as the meaning of substantial and primitive life.
If it is said that we need to .see “Nim”（lover) and ''Gohyang”(hometown) in Kim So Wol’s poems from the substantial context and we have to understand the poet’s intention as the aspiration for the substantial one, we can note the fact that this kind of a poet’s thinking is being formed, based on the water image. In the mythical meaning, water symbolizes original form. Water brings birth, and also means death and revival. Water is the storage place for every possible existences as origin and source, and it supports every creation. Like this, when considering water from the viewpoint of symbolic meaning, the poet’s intention can be called the intention for substantial life.
In Kim So Wol’s poems, this kind of intention for substantial life is expressed through the mental image of “sea’. We can also identify this in 「Red Tick」，「Absentmindedness」and「Sea」. In these works, we can see the poet's admiration for life through strong, dynamic image, and this implies that sea is the very space of life and the space of generation.
However, the "sea", which the poet really wanes to reach pathetically missing it, is the place where we can't reach ultimately, and it’s just a space in dream that can't be obtained. The tragedy in Kim So Wol’s poems originates from this, The aspiration for vital life, which Kim So Wol showed, begins to change into the aspiration for death, due to the absolute limit that can’t reach a sea. A.s the water image here is forming the notably downward image, it shows well the poet’s phase of awareness that is falling into death awareness. We can identify this in his works’ such as 「Owl」describing a cloudy sea, 「Hope」suggestively revealing the split between self and world, In the fall morning」showing the poet's dark inside through rain's falling image and「Loneliness on a journey l」describing the pouring rain that is considered as the march to death.
Consequently, we can see that the water image shown in Kim So Wol’s poems is changing into the projection to death as his intention for life is frustrated.