Memoirs

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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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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Pak Chiwon’s Jehol Diary: An amiable bore abroad

by Philip Gowman 30 March 2015
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Pak Chiwon: The Jehol Diary Translated with notes by Yang Hi Choe-Wall Global Oriental 2010, 208pp The Jehol Diary is a contemporary account of one of the regular journeys from Joseon Korea to Qing China bearing tribute to the emperor. The journey described in this diary took place in 1780, and was ordered by King Jeongjo […]

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Twinsters story comes to the Kindle

by Philip Gowman 4 October 2014
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Those of you who have been following the story of identical twins Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman will be pleased to know that their story will be available on Kindle at the end of this month or hardcover next month. The title is Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited. The […]

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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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Twinsters featured in Metro

by Philip Gowman 2 February 2014
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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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