Books

There’s a really good interview with Krys Lee (Drifting House, How I Became a North Korean) in The Guardian: “The acclaimed short story writer talks about her debut novel, trying to understand her violent father and moving back from the US to South Korea”. The novel is available on Amazon from 18 August. Krys Lee […]

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Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea

by Philip Gowman 30 July 2016
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This book by David Straub, head of the political section in the US Embassy in Seoul 1999-2002, has just gone onto my wishlist. Reviews by Aidan Foster Carter in the Korea JoongAng Daily and by Bradley K Martin in Asia Times. Available from Amazon.co.uk. Published by Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and distributed by the […]

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Event news: August’s literature night features Jung Young Moon

by Philip Gowman 29 July 2016
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The last two literature nights featuring Hwang Sun-won and Park Wan-suh have been really rewarding. Even if you’re not wholly convinced about the subject book, the opportunity to discuss it with others always provides different ways of looking at it. I hope I’ll get around to writing about both books – Park Wan-suh’s Lonesome You […]

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Those foreigner-friendly cookery books keep on coming…

by Philip Gowman 26 July 2016
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Time was when you really couldn’t lay your hands on a cookery book focusing on Korean food that was written by someone who understood the UK market. We were all waiting for Judy Joo’s Korean Food Made Simple – which according to Amazon was published on 19 May this year, though it was available on […]

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Book review: Cheon Myeong-kwan — Modern Family

by Philip Gowman 2 June 2016
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Cheon Myeong-kwan: Modern Family Translated by Kyoung-lee Park White Pine Press Korean Voices Series, 2015 Originally published as 고령화 가족 by Munhakdongne Publishing Corp, 2010 The KCC has been running its Korean Literature Nights for more than two years now. The discussion group has an enthusiastic and regular following, to the extent that seats have […]

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Event news: an evening with Korean authors Han Yujoo and Cheon Myeong-kwan

by Philip Gowman 23 April 2016
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Cheon Myeong-Kwan and Han Yujoo are being made to work hard during their visit to London in support of the special Korea issue of the Asia Literary Review. Asia House on 10 May (with Deborah Smith), SOAS on 12 May (again with Deborah Smith), and KCC on 13 May (with Kelly Falconer): Korean Literature Night: […]

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Tony’s Reading List plugs Bae Suah

by Philip Gowman 6 April 2016
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There’s a great article in support of Bae Suah’s Nowhere to be Found (tr Sora Kim-Russell) on Three Percent, by Tony of Tony’s Reading List fame. A year ago he did a review of Nowhere to be Found along with Highway with Green Apples. And in his Three Percent article he passes on this bit of […]

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Event news: K-Lit in the age of Korean Cool

by Philip Gowman 4 April 2016
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For those who are lucky enough to get to the Korean Literature Night at the KCC this month, the author of the featured book will be at Asia House a couple of weeks later: K-Lit in the age of Korean Cool 10 May, 2016, 18:45 – 20:30 Asia House | Book here Hallyu – the […]

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KCC’s April Korean Literature Night features Cheon Myung-kwan’s Modern Family

by Philip Gowman 4 April 2016
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Cheon Myung-kwan is definitely author of the month – he’s appearing at Asia House in May as well as being the subject of this month’s Korean Literature Night. The novel was made into the movie Boomerang Family by director Song Hae-sung, which was the closing gala screening of the 2013 London Korean Film Festival. Korean […]

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Hong Gildong coming soon to Penguin Classics

by Philip Gowman 23 March 2016
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I wonder why it’s taken so long. But coming soon, in a new translation by Minsoo Kang, is The Story of Hong Gildong, “arguably the single most important work of classic Korean fiction,” according to the publishers, Penguin Classics. A release date of 7 July 2016 is mentioned, though Amazon UK is offering it on […]

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Why Han Kang’s Human Acts is likely to be my book of the year

by Philip Gowman 17 February 2016
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Han Kang: Human Acts Translated by Deborah Smith Portobello Books, 2016, 224pp Originally published as 소년이 온다, Changbi Publishers Inc, Seoul, 2014 Han Kang’s Human Acts hits the bookshelves in the UK just as The Vegetarian starts to make waves in the US. The latter book has already made its mark in the UK, making […]

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Deborah Smith wins Literary Translation award.

by Philip Gowman 29 January 2016
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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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