Kim Sowol (1902–1934) is most famous for his contributions to early modern Korean poetry. Throughout his life he wrote his beautifully poignant poetry in a style reminiscent of traditional Korean folk songs. "Azaleas" (진달래꽃) is one of his most famous poems. Its melancholy themes of departure and loss reminds one of the folk song "Arirang." Because he used the music and tone of folk songs he became known as a “Folk Song Poet.”
Kim Sowol was born in 1902 in Kwaksan, North Pyong'an Province. Shortly after he was born his father became insane. This fact although tragic must have affected the poet's early life and eventually led to his own premature death. His grandfather taught him classical Chinese and entered him in the famed Osan Middle School at the age of fifteen. He became a pupil of Kim Eok (김억;金憶), pen-named Anso, who remained for the rest of his life not only his mentor but one who truly understood the growth and abrupt termination of his poetic genius. Kim Sowol’s real name was Kim Jeong-sik (김정식;金廷湜).
He wrote most of the poems contained in The Azaleas, his first and only collection of poetry published in his lifetime. It was written in 1925 while he was still a teenager.