Ko Un was born in Kunsan (North Cholla Province), Korea in 1933.
His first poems were published in 1958, and he has since published more than 120 volumes of poems, essays, and fiction. In recent years, selections from his work have been translated into at least 14 languages, including four volumes so far published in English: The Sound of My Waves, Beyond Self: Zen Poems, Little Pilgrims, and Ten Thousand Lives.
Ko Un received the Korean Literature Prize in 1987, the first Manhae Literary Prize in 1989, the Chungang Cultural Prize in 1991, and the Daesan Literary Prize in 1994. He also received the Manhae Grand Prize in 1998 and the Manhae Buddhist Literature Prize in 1999.