Books

Robert E Buswell, Jr: The Zen Monastic Experience – Buddhist Practice in Contemporary Korea Princeton University Press, 1992, 259pp A curious tourist visiting one of the popular Korean temples will admire the architecture of the buildings; will poke their nose into the main shrine, nervously wondering whether they’re allowed in and if so what is […]

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“Jazz” in the DPRK: Autumn Whispers and the forbidden fruit of Richard Clayderman

by Philip Gowman 7 July 2014
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I’ve just finished reading Jang Jin-sung’s memoir, Dear Leader. It’s a real page-turner that will appeal to many types of readers, including people who like a good adventure story (the passages describing Jang’s evasion of Chinese and North Korean security forces once he has fled from the North Korean capital are genuinely exciting) and of […]

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The London Korean Novel Club

by Philip Gowman 29 June 2014
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Many LKL followers will have already heard of the London Korean Novel Club – not to be confused with the monthly Korean Literature Night meetups at the KCC. The London Korean Novel Club was born in part because the KCC-organised literature nights seemed to get booked up so quickly: there’s obviously a market for informal […]

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An evening with Bae Suah at SOAS

by Philip Gowman 6 June 2014
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Another highly recommended event linked to the London Book Fair 2014 cultural programme coordinated by the British Council: Border States and Mother Tongues: an evening with Bae Suah Wednesday 11 June 2014, 17.15-20.00 Room B104 (Brunei Gallery Building, 1st floor), SOAS, University of London, London WC1H 0XG. Bae Suah, currently in residence at Writers’ Centre […]

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Gong Ji-young on tuna sandwiches, Jane Eyre and manual labour

by Philip Gowman 27 May 2014
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Gong Ji-young was passing through London on her way to the Hay Literary Festival. Saturday would involve dinner with Stephen Fry as president of the Festival, together with other authors. Sunday morning, hopefully without a hangover, she would be sharing the stage with British author Ned Beauman in a conversation with Granta online poetry editor […]

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Gong Ji-young in conversation with Grace Koh

by Philip Gowman 19 May 2014
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So you thought you were done with the London Book Fair? Think again. As part of the ongoing programme which the British Council reminded us about at the Fair, it’s about more than just the three days in April. For starters, LKL hasn’t finished writing it all up yet… But more importantly Gong Ji-young’s in […]

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Paul French discusses North Korea: State of Paranoia

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2014
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A talk at the Fulham branch of the wonderful Daunt Books. I’m assuming this is a second edition of his Paranoid Peninsula. Paul French in conversation with Harriet Evans on North Korea: State of Paranoia Thursday 29th May, 7pm at Daunt Books Fulham Road North Korea continues to make headlines, arousing curiosity and fear in […]

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English PEN video: Hwang Sunmi in conversation with Maya Jaggi

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2014
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Here is English PEN’s video of Hwang Sun-mi in conversation with Maya Jaggi on the second day of the London Book Fair. The Hen who Dreamed she could Fly is obviously one of the things discussed. Links: English PEN YouTube channel Titles: The Hen who Dreamed she could Fly Authors: Hwang Sun-mi (황선미)

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English PEN video: Kim Young-ha in conversation with Krys Lee

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2014
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Here is English PEN’s video of Kim Young-ha in conversation with Krys Lee on the first day of the London Book Fair: Links: English PEN YouTube channel Authors: Kim Young-ha (김영하)

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Shin Kyung-sook on what modernity makes us forget

by Philip Gowman 11 May 2014
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Shin Kyung-sook attended three London events during the this year’s London Book Fair: a conversation with Arifa Akbar on 8 April, a panel session with Han Kang on Families, Relationships and Society on 9 April, and a panel entitled Separations with Krys Lee and Quaisra Shahraz at Asia House on 10 April. The below  is a digest […]

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Hwang Sok-yong and the burden of history

by Philip Gowman 6 May 2014
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Like many of his fellow authors at the London Book Fair, Hwang Sok-yong was put to work in at least three events: first at the Free Word Centre on 7 April with author Adam Foulds; then on the first day of the Fair itself he appeared with Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie in a panel session […]

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A Poem I Didn’t Name – Ko Un on the Sewol tragedy

by Philip Gowman 3 May 2014
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In this month’s edition of Words Without Borders, a translation by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Lee Sang-Wha of a new poem by Ko Un on the Korean ferry disaster. Here’s one stanza: A floodtide of sorrow has risen in every corner of this country, everyone feeling indignant, fists clenched. Not only anger, not only […]

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Book review: Kim In-suk — The Long Road

by Philip Gowman 29 April 2014
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Kim In-suk: The Long Road Translated by Stephen J Epstein MerwinAsia, 2010, 113pp First published as 먼 길, 1995 When you hear a Korean abroad refer to the locals as “stupid whiteys”, and soon afterwards refer to his fellow countrymen as “mannerless gooks” you know you are dealing with someone who doesn’t feel at ease […]

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Ha-joon Chang on anchovies and economics

by Philip Gowman 27 April 2014
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Cambridge economist Ha-joon Chang’s next book, Economics: The User’s Guide will be available on 1 May. It is the first of a batch of new publications in Penguin’s Pelican imprint, which has been dormant for thirty years. He talks about his book in a diary article in this weekend’s FT: In saying that there is […]

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Hwang Sun-mi on following your dreams

by Philip Gowman 22 April 2014
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LKL reports from two events involving Hwang Sun-mi at the London Book Fair in Earls Court. So you think Hwang Sun-mi’s bestselling book The hen who dreamed she could fly is all about maternal sacrifice? Think again. It could be that you’ve been influenced by the film adaptation Leafie, a hen into the wild. During […]

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LTI Korea video: Yi Mun-yol in conversation with Claire Armitstead

by Philip Gowman 19 April 2014
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Here is LTI Korea’s video of Yi Mun-yol in conversation with The Guardian‘s Claire Armitstead at the English PEN Literary Salon, Earls Court on the last day of the London Book Fair 2014, 10 April 2014: Links: LTI Korea website | YouTube channel Authors: Yi Mun-yol (이문열)

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LTI Korea video: Shin Kyung-sook in conversation with Arifa Akbar

by Philip Gowman 19 April 2014
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Here is LTI Korea’s video of Shin Kyung-sook in conversation with The Independent‘s Arifa Akbar on the first day of the London Book Fair. The topic is mainly Please Look After Mother, but also we talk about I’ll be Right There, and we learn about what Shin is working on right now. LKL’s question comes […]

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