Update from Executive Director following Congress planning visit to Korea

Laura McVeigh, Executive Director of PEN International writes:
I’ve just returned from an excellent planning meeting with Korean PEN for the 2012 PEN International Congress which will take place this year from 9 – 15th of September inclusive at the Hotel Hyundai in Gyeongju, South Korea.

Full details will be sent shortly to all PEN Centres. Paul Finegan is co-ordinating the Congress preparation within the International Secretariat and can be contacted at paul.finegan@pen-international.org for further information.

The theme for the Congress is ‘Literature, Media and Human Rights’; Keynote speakers include Nobel Laureates Wole Soyinka, Orhan Pamuk and Jean Marie Gustave Le Clezio. There will be several key changes to the Congress format – with the emphasis much more on creating spaces and times to enabling centre delegates to talk, to share information and to connect. For example, there will be special network sessions, a centre development training session, workshops on fundraising, campaigning and communications, and centre governance. Delegates will be invited to participate directly in one of the Free the Word! literary events; and as it is the 90th anniversary of PEN International there will be 90th Celebrations running throughout the Congress programme. We are currently compiling a short film of PEN International since 1921 – if your centre can share footage, content or photographs please let Karis know at communications@pen-international.org

Alongside the Congress there is a wonderful cultural programme planned and there will also be the opportunity for all participants to learn about the Korean culture and language during the Congress.

During the visit we also discussed the situation for writers in North Korea and the many issues surrounding freedom of expression. We will be further exploring with Korean PEN how PEN International can best support writers in North Korea both in advance of and following this year’s Congress.