Books on DPRK

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: 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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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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Hyeonseo Lee: The Girl with Seven Names and three book launches

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2015
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Hyeonseo Lee’s memoir, The Girl with Seven Names, is published on 2 July. Three separate events on 1 July (Asia House), 2 July (European Association for Human Rights in North Korea) and 3 July (Guardian / Amnesty) will give you the chance to hear her story and get a signed copy. Details in date order […]

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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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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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In a bookshop yesterday…

by Philip Gowman 7 December 2013
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No, this is not *my* bookshelf (it’s part of the Korean section at the university bookshop yesterday), though I do have a couple of these. I don’t have the yellow one, and don’t propose buying it. But I really recommend Sonia Ryang’s Reading North Korea – a look at how North Korea’s relationship with the […]

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Book review: Martin Limón — The Joy Brigade

by Philip Gowman 30 July 2013
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Martin Limón: The Joy Brigade Soho Press, 2012. 304pp Martin Limón’s eighth novel in the Ernie Bascom and George Sueño series covers new ground in many respects. It is the first novel in which we see Sueno on his own, not accompanied by his buddy Bascom. And it is the first time that Limon has […]

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Orphan Master wins Pulitzer

by Philip Gowman 16 April 2013
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At LKL we were lukewarm, but we don’t mind being in the minority. So congratulations to Adam Johnson for winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, “for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life,” with The Orphan Master’s Son. Source: www.pulitzer.org Authors: Adam Johnson

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You followed the blog, now buy the book

by Philip Gowman 12 January 2013
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You’ll probably have visited Kim Jong Il Looking at Things once in a while for some gentle entertainment at the expense of the late Dear Leader and his propaganda unit. The blog closed in December 2012, a year after his death, but now you can buy the book, from Jean Boîte Éditions, price EUR24 plus […]

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John Everard launches Only Beautiful Please at Asia House

by Philip Gowman 4 January 2013
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John Everard has already held a US launch of his entertaining book containing his reflections on life in North Korea – Only Beautiful Please. And LKL reviews the book here. We enjoyed it. He is now holding a UK launch at Asia House on 24 January. Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea […]

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Book Review: John Everard – Only Beautiful Please

by Philip Gowman 19 December 2012
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Only Beautiful Please – a British Diplomat in North Korea John Everard Asia/Pacific Research Center, Div of The Institute for International Studies, 2012, 250pp It is always with a sense of duty rather than eager anticipation that I pick up a book on the DPRK, regardless of who the author is. To the extent that […]

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Another book on the DPRK hits the bookshops

by Philip Gowman 27 August 2012
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I always get depressed when I see a new book on the DPRK, because the DPRK is a depressing subject. Plus, it’s the thought that people are spending their lives trying to figure out this unfathomable regime. It’s the thought that there’s another 500 pages which I feel I ought to read, but which if […]

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Damn! I’ve run out of shelf space

by Philip Gowman 22 August 2012
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I’ve run out of shelf space, so I have no room for the recently issued Volume 17 (enlarged edition) of Kim Jong-il’s selected works. Now I’ll never get the full set, or find out how to “More Firmly Strengthen Socialist Revolutionary Position by Doing Party Work Well”.

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John Everard launches “Only Beautiful Please”

by Philip Gowman 8 July 2012
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Former UK ambassador to Pyongyang John Everard has just launched his book “Only Beautiful Please” at a talk to the Korea Society. He caused a stir by saying North Koreans don’t like the Chinese, which links in with something the defector Kim Joo-il said in a letter to the FT in September 2010: North Koreans […]

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