Memoirs

The heartwarming story of two identical twins from Busan being adopted and brought up in separate continents made it into London freesheet the Metro yesterday. Samantha and Anais, having successfully raised $30,000 for phase 1 of an autobiographical documentary project on Kickstarter, are now looking to raise $80,000 for post-production. They are over a quarter […]

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Twinsters book deal announced

by Philip Gowman 27 July 2013
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That sure is fast work: Twinsters Sam Futurman and Anais Bordier have signed a deal for the book of the film – and the film isn’t even made yet. According to AP, Penguin’s US affiliate G.P Putnam’s Sons will be publishing the memoir, which will be coming out in late 2014 – in time for […]

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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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Chinese hordes and human waves: Korean War talk at the KCC

by Philip Gowman 20 October 2011
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News of an upcoming book launch event at the KCC: Chinese Hordes and Human Waves: A Personal Perspective of the Korean War 1950-1953 By Brigadier (Retd.) Brian Parritt CBE Thursday 10 November 2011 6.30pm – 9.30pm (Pre-talk Drinks at 6pm) Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK, 1-3 Strand, Grand Buildings, London WC2N 5BW (Location) Admission is […]

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Who Ate Up All The Shinga – a critical essay by Alice Bennell

by Alice Bennell 24 September 2010
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Alice Bennell, UK winner of last year’s Korean Literature Translation Institute essay contest on “There a Petal Silently Falls”, contributes her entry for this year’s competition. Who Ate Up All the Shinga is an autobiographical novel chronicling the early life of the author, Park Wan-Suh. The Japanese occupation of Korea, and events leading up to […]

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Brief book review: Dictée – Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

by Philip Gowman 23 March 2010
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Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: Dictée University of California Press, 2001. Originally published 1982. Not all books are easy to read, and it would be a dull world in which all books were. The assessment of whether to continue struggling through a difficult book is tricky: maybe it will all come together in the end – […]

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Nineteen Years in South Korea’s Gulag

by Philip Gowman 3 December 2009
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Suh Sung: Unbroken Spirits – Nineteen Years in South Korea’s Gulag Rowman & Littlefield, 2001 Original Japanese version, (Gokuchû 19 Nen, Nineteen Years in Prison) 1994 We are all familiar with stories reporting the horrors of torture and starvation in North Korean prison camps. What we can forget is that over the past decades South […]

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Book review: The Reluctant Communist

by Philip Gowman 9 November 2009
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Charles Robert Jenkins: The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea University of California Press, 2008 “Our choices are what makes us who we are. Nobody knows that better than me.” So ends the autobiography of Charles Robert Jenkins, the only American to spend most of his life in North Korea […]

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Why North Korea is unlikely ever to produce a Solzhenitsyn

by Philip Gowman 23 August 2009
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Christian Oliver reviews “Long Road Home: Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor” in the weekend FT # Kim Yong escaped North Korea’s gulag in 1999, and his story is told by Kim Suk-yong Kim [Yong] is shocked when he meets Soviets who can openly guffaw about Yuri Andropov. North Korea also lacks Russia’s profound […]

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The Korean War: the Korean version

by Philip Gowman 12 August 2009
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General Paik Sun Yup: From Pusan to Panmunjom Potomac Memories of War, 2007 (original English version pub 1992) Your typical book on the Korean War centres on Generals MacArthur and Ridgeway, on the landing at Incheon and maybe (if it’s a British account) the battle at the Imjin. It’s a war fought by Americans, with […]

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Book Review: Reginald Thompson — Cry Korea

by Jennifer Barclay 23 April 2009
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Jennifer Barclay reviews a contemporary war reporter’s account of the Korean war, “Cry Korea” (Reginald Thompson)

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Escaping North Korea book launch

by Philip Gowman 17 March 2009
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An account of the book launch of Mike Kim’s “Escaping North Korea” held at SOAS in March 2009

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Inheriting the gifts of grief

by Philip Gowman 10 January 2008
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Brenda Paik Sunoo: Seaweed and Shamans – Inheriting the gifts of grief Seoul Selection, April 2006 I remember logging this book in my memory sometime in early 2006, having read some advance notice of in, I think, the Seoul Selection weekly email. I didn’t read the small print too closely, and confess I didn’t read […]

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De profundis

by Philip Gowman 26 November 2007
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Cullen Thomas: Brother One Cell — Coming of Age in South Korea’s Prisons Pan Books, 2007 A “powerful, harrowing and moving memoir”, proclaims the blurb on the back. “A Korean tear in the muscle round the ribs, a Korean hernia…” reads the selective quote. The cover design, a Getty image of hands grasping prison bars, […]

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Guy Delisle: Pyongyang – A Journey in North Korea

by Philip Gowman 17 November 2006
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(Jonathan Cape, 2006) An account of a three-month work stint in Pyongyang at around the start of the Bush presidency, this book is neither particularly topical (it’s taken some time to be translated from the original French) nor well-titled. But it sure is original. We’ve read travel accounts of North Korea before; we’ve heard about […]

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Susie Younger: Never ending flower

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2006
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Susie Younger: Never ending flower Collins Harvill, 1967 To describe this book as a memoir of a Catholic missionary in South Korea in the early 1960s, while factually correct, undersells it. Yes, the author is a person of deep Christian faith, but her work in Korea is more that of a social worker than evangelist. […]

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