Event reports and reviews

Park Chan-wook at LEAFF, talking about Handmaiden, octopuses and more

by Philip Gowman 24 October 2016
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I’ve now lost count of the number of times that Park Chan-wook has come to London. But it’s always nice to see him, especially when there’s his latest film to enjoy as part of a retrospective of his work at the London East Asia Film Festival. We got to see the amazing Handmaiden at the BFI […]

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Jambinai at the Oslo Hackney – a second-hand mini-review

by Philip Gowman 13 October 2016
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We didn’t manage to get to Jambinai at the Oslo Hackney as this year. Nor it seems did the Guardian or Resonate, who have been diligent reviewers of the other K-Music gigs. Jambinai were certainly one of the highlights of last year’s festival – and I would have loved to have got to see them […]

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Gig review: Patients + Idiotape @ Rich Mix

by Philip Gowman 11 October 2016
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Sometimes you enjoy an event but don’t know what to say about it. Rock music is not one of my own core competencies. I know when a band enthuses me, but if asked to describe the style or genre, or to compare the musicians with other, possibly Western, reference points I’m usually at a loss. […]

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Film review: The Lovers and the Despot

by Philip Gowman 10 October 2016
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The way you watch Ross Adam’s and Robert Cannan’s The Lovers and the Despot is likely to depend on whether you know the story or not. To those who are coming to it afresh, this is an extraordinary tale which is another example of the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction: one of South […]

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Brief review: Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden

by Philip Gowman 9 October 2016
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I’ll leave others to do the detailed review of Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden (아가씨), which screened at the London Film Festival this week and which will return later in the month at the London East Asia Film Festival. Suffice it to say that it’s gorgeous-looking, both in terms of costume and interiors, great story-telling and totally […]

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Brief review: Train to Busan

by Philip Gowman 8 October 2016
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What can you say about Train to Busan that hasn’t already been said? When everyone tells you it’s a fantastic thrill-ride you try to go into the screening with lowered expectations just in case everyone is delusional and you come away disappointed. No need to fear. It’s pretty much non-stop entertainment from start to finish, […]

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Gig review: Youn Sun Nah + Ulf Wakenius @ Union Chapel

by Philip Gowman 6 October 2016
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It’s been too long since Youn Sun Nah performed in London: five long years. Last time was a small, intimate venue – Pizza Express in Soho – and the time before was the Queen Elizabeth Hall – more generous in terms of space but one that made the performers work hard to create the atmosphere. […]

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A look at some of the Korean artists featured at Start Art Fair 2016

by Philip Gowman 25 September 2016
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No matter how much preparation you put into visiting an art fair – planning which stalls to visit, estimating how much time you are likely to spend at each – you will almost always end up spending your time differently from the way you originally intended: some stalls will engage you in conversation, telling you […]

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Biennale visit: Korea’s contemporary vision of Utopia

by Philip Gowman 24 September 2016
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At the heart of Korea’s contribution to London’s first design biennale is a digital rendering of Ahn Gyeong’s famous realisation of a visionary dream described by his patron, Prince Anpyeong, a son of King Sejong the Great. On the left of the image, in place of the calligraphic colophon provided by Prince Anpyeong himself is […]

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Exhibition visit: Kang Ik-joong’s Moon Jars at Robilant + Voena

by Philip Gowman 20 September 2016
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With Kang Ik-joong’s specially commissioned work floating prominently on the river outside Tate Modern, Robilant and Voena have chosen an opportune time to exhibit a collection of his moon jar paintings. Also on show is Things I Know (2010) an installation of 500 small moon jars arranged in a circle. He may have been pulling […]

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Concert notes: Jeong Ga Ak Hoe at the British Museum

by Philip Gowman 19 September 2016
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Although the official opening concert of K-Music 2016 is Nah Youn-sun with Ulf Wakenius on 20 September, the British Museum’s Chuseok celebrations in collaboration with the KCC have given us several performances by the contemporary gugak group Jeong Ga Ak Hoe. They presented a programme of traditional music in the Korean Gallery on the morning […]

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Kang Ik-joong’s Floating Dreams for Korean reunification

by Philip Gowman 14 September 2016
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Kang Ik-joong’s installation entitled Floating Dreams is a symbol of hope for the unification of Korea. Moored on the Thames outside Tate Modern, the installation is an assembly of 500 drawings in the shape of a cube – four square sides and a flat upper surface each featuring a grid of 10 x 10 pictures […]

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Film review: Tunnel – will it be a hit outside Korea?

by Philip Gowman 4 September 2016
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Tunnel (dir: Kim Sung-hoon, whose Hard Day put him on the map) has been topping the Korean box office since it was released less than four weeks ago, and amazingly now has a one-week release in the UK, until 8 September. What has contributed to its popularity in Korea? And could it attain the same […]

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Kang Ik-joong’s Floating Dreams installed on the Thames

by Philip Gowman 30 August 2016
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For one reason or another, today at the office I had my eyes glued to my PC screen most of the day. I didn’t have much time to enjoy the view from my window, from where I can see the Thames around the Greenwich peninsula. Which meant that I managed to miss one of the […]

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Fringe visit: The Tiniest Frog Prince in the World

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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I was feeling grumpy when I went into this show and had decided I was not going to enjoy it. I had rushed to get there having just got off the train. It had started late, and if it overran I wasn’t going to have time to get to the next show. And I’m not […]

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Fringe visit: Girl

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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Modl Theatre Company is perhaps best known in this country for its work aimed at younger audiences, but it is a diverse company which also engages with more adult material too. And you can’t get much more adult than a graphic description of the surgical procedure that the Japanese forced upon young Korean girls so […]

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Fringe visit: Dandelion’s Story

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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What on earth makes a theatre company think that creating a piece about doggy poo is a good idea? How do you persuade an actress that taking on the role of a talking turd is a big break for her? Well, firstly, this production is aimed at children, and kids of all ages find poo […]

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