Books

Han Kang says she’s “amazing”. Deborah Levy says she’s “obviously a genius”. And now, congratulations to Deborah Smith for winning The Arts Foundation Literary Translation Award 2016. According to the TLS blog, the award comes with a £10,000 bursary which Deborah plans to use “to fund research into the Korean author Yi Chong-jun” (Your Paradise, […]

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Event news: Korean ‘Comfort Women’ — Listen to Their Voices, Hear Their Cries.

by Philip Gowman 26 January 2016
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A timely new book on the Comfort Woman issue is out about now from Palgrave McMillan. Its author, Dr Maki Kimura, will be giving a talk at SOAS on 12 February: Korean ‘Comfort Women’: Listen to Their Voices, Hear Their Cries presented by the SOAS Save Jeju Island Society 6:30pm, Friday 12th, 2016, SOAS main […]

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A look back at the books of 2015

by Philip Gowman 16 January 2016
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In place of our annual “LKL Awards” post, we look at some of the highlights of 2015 in the area of books, film and music. Apart from the field of literature in translation (and of course I’m talking Han Kang here), there are no clear winners or I haven’t covered enough ground to choose one. […]

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Double book review: two takes on Shin Sang-ok

by Philip Gowman 8 January 2016
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Paul Fischer: A Kim Jong-il Production Penguin / Viking 2015, 353pp Steven Chung: Split Screen Korea – Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema University of Minnesota Press 2014, 262pp The story of actress Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok combines elements of both romance and thriller as well as representing important phases in the history of film […]

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Event news: launch of Han Kang’s Human Acts

by Philip Gowman 17 December 2015
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Three separate opportunities to hear Han Kang talk about her newly-translated book, Human Acts – a Norwich appearance sandwiched in between two London ones. If you can’t wait to get hold of a copy of the book, Foyles (whose event is 13 Jan) claim they have “exclusive availability of Human Acts for a full month […]

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Book review: Kim Namcheon – Scenes from the Enlightenment

by Philip Gowman 11 December 2015
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Kim Namcheon — Scenes from the Enlightenment Translated by Charles La Shure Dalkey Archive, 2014, 254pp orignally published as 대하, Inmunsa 1939. A brief review, because this is a book I never finished. The blurb on the back of the book sums the contents up well: An account of seemingly trivial events – a wedding […]

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Event news: APPG meeting and book introduction

by Philip Gowman 9 December 2015
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Notice of an upcoming North Korea-related event: The All-Party Parliamentary Group will be hosting an open meeting on Monday 14th December. The event will serve two purposes. Firstly, to outline the Group’s recent business and its strategy for 2016. Secondly, to host Daniel Tudor (former Korea correspondent at the Economist) who will introduce his new […]

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Book review: Hwang Sok-yong — Princess Bari

by Philip Gowman 7 December 2015
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Hwang Sok-yong: Prices Bari Periscope, 2015, 240pp Translated by Sora Kim-Russell Originally published as 바리데기, 2007 Princess Bari is Hwang Sok-yong’s fourth full-length novel to be translated into English. It is also the most recent, having been originally published in 2007. And for a British audience it is one of the most immediately accessible, being […]

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Book Review: Cho Chongnae — How in Heaven’s Name

by Philip Gowman 4 December 2015
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Cho Chongnae: How in Heaven’s Name Translated by Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton Merwin Asia, 2012, 141 pages. Originally published as 오 하느님 (O God) and renamed 사람의 탈 (Human Mask) How in Heaven’s Name is an appropriate title for the mind-boggling story of how a group of Korean country lads came to be fighting in […]

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Book Review: Ahn Do-hyun — The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher

by Philip Gowman 28 November 2015
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Ahn Do-hyun: The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher Panmacmillan 2015, 122pp Translated by Deborah Smith Originally published as 연어, Munhakdongne, 1996. Ahn Do-hyun is a bestselling poet and this is his first novel to be translated into English. The English title for this translation is an interesting one – clearly echoing the English title […]

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Book review: Han Kang — The Vegetarian

by Philip Gowman 26 November 2015
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Han Kang: The Vegetarian Translated by Deborah Smith Portobello Books, 2015, 183pp Originally published as 채식주의자, Seoul 2007 Sometimes, reading translated Korean literature can be a bit of a private affair. You read it, you maybe enjoy it and appreciate it, but you think twice about recommending it to a non Koreaphile; or if you […]

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Book news: Han Kang’s Human Acts coming in January 2016

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2015
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Han Kang is among the eight women writers whose books have been awarded an English PEN grant in the latest round. Han, acclaimed author of The Vegetarian, will publish her novel Human Acts in January 2016 with the backing of both a PEN Promotes and a PEN Translates grant. Deborah Smith once again translates, and […]

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Sophie Bowman wins Korea Times translation award

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2015
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Way back in the summer of 2008, when the KCCUK ran its first language class for beginners in Korean, one of the students on the inaugural course was Sophie Bowman. Unlike another student in the same class (me) Sophie has progressed somewhat since then. Many congratulations to her on winning the Korea Times Grand Prize […]

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Book Launch: Cash or Smash by Bada Song (eeodo)

by Philip Gowman 28 October 2015
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Some LKL followers may remember Bada Song’s performance-cum-exhibition at Mokspace earlier this year. The weekend has been documented in a book which will be launched on 31 October. The event will feature a screening of a video of the event earlier this year, plus drinks, discussion, reading and a planned intervention by a political performance […]

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Yeonmi Park is Radio 4 book of the week

by Philip Gowman 26 October 2015
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Yeonmi Park’s refugee memoir In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom is Radio 4’s book of the week this week, airing at 9:45am. If you missed this morning’s episode there’s a repeat at 12:30 tonight, or of course you can listen to it for the next 30 days on the Radio […]

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Yeonmi Park’s DPRK refugee memoir out next week

by Philip Gowman 26 September 2015
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Yeonmi Park’s defector memoir In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom comes out in a couple of days. It is trailed in this weekend’s Telegraph and her testimony has also been examined in The Diplomat. Italian and German editions will be coming out later this year. According to Aidan Foster Carter, […]

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Free short story by Heinz Insu Fenkl

by Philip Gowman 22 September 2015
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Five Arrows, a short story by writer and translator Heinz Insu Fenkl is available in the August issue of New Yorker magazine. If you’re lazy there’s an audio version on Soundcloud available here. And at the bottom of the New Yorker webpage you’ll find a link to his translation of the Yi Mun-yol story which […]

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