Colonial period

Korean acts coming to the Fringe have often majored on the non-verbal: percussion, taekwondo, comedy, physical theatre, music and dance. Last year, with Othello – Two Men, we discovered that more traditional theatre, heavy on text, can work well despite the language barrier – provided surtitles are visible. This year the Korean contingent was bolder […]

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Kim Young-ha: Black Flower – an imaginative re-telling of a fascinating byway of Korean history

by Philip Gowman 13 March 2013
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Kim Young-ha: Black Flower Originally published in Korean in 2003 This edition Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012, 305pp, Translated by Charles La Shure Black Flower tells the fascinating story of a thousand or so Korean emigrants who sailed from Jemulpo (now Incheon) in 1905 in search of jobs in Mexico, and ended up founding a short-lived […]

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Happy 150th Birthday, James Scarth Gale

by Philip Gowman 19 February 2013
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James Scarth Gale – missionary, translator, and one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch – was born 150 years ago on 19 February 1863. His birthday has been marked by an upgraded Wikipedia page, a special page with photos on Brother Anthony’s site, and a memorial service at Yeondong Church (which […]

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2012 Travel Diary #22: The Burial Grounds of the Royal Joseon Placentas, and why underfloor heating is not always good for you

by Philip Gowman 3 December 2012
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1 April 2012. Yes, it’s 1 April, and no, this article is not an April Fool’s joke. Sunday in Sancheong town, and the National Assembly election campaign is in full swing. All along the main street, the ppongtchak trucks are parked nose to tail, probably about eight of them. All of them blare out loud […]

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Book review: So Far from the Bamboo Grove

by Philip Gowman 30 November 2012
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Yoko Kawashima Watkins: So Far from the Bamboo Grove Harper Collins, 1986 Reprinted with letter from the author, 2008 183pp This time last year, Wikileaks revealed that when Mitt Romney, then Governor of Massachussetts, visited Korea in December 2006, one of the topics raised by the Korean Acting Foreign Minister Cho Jung-pyo was this short […]

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Adam Cathcart at SOAS: Sino-North Korean relations in 1940s and 1950s

by Philip Gowman 13 November 2012
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The fourth of this season’s free seminars at SOAS: Sino-North Korean relations in the borderland regions in the 1940s and early 1950s Adam Cathcart (Queen’s University, Belfast) Date: 23 November 2012 Time: 5:15 PM Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G50 Abstract Sino-North Korean relations in the borderland regions in the 1940s and early 1950s […]

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2012 Travel Diary #19: Beopgyesa Temple and those Japanese feng-shui stakes

by Philip Gowman 16 October 2012
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Beopgyesa Temple (법게사) is the highest in Sancheong County and at least the third-highest in Korea. The good people of Sancheong believe that Beopgyesa is the highest temple in South Korea, a claim which is supported by Beopgyesa’s entry on the Cultural Heritage Administration website, where the following text is to be found: “It is […]

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Gumok, a new musical at the Chelsea Theatre

by Philip Gowman 14 June 2012
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News of an interesting new musical getting an outing for one day only later this month in Chelsea, featuring the stories of the Korean Comfort Women: Gumok Date: 30th June, 2012 Place: Chelsea Theatre (SW10 0DR) Time: 5pm and 8pm Price: Pay what you like (min. £1) Project Team Gumok presents a new musical “Gumok” […]

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2012 Travel Diary 4: Walking the palace trail with the RASKB

by Philip Gowman 3 May 2012
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25 March 2012. It’s a cold, sunny morning, like the day before. I’ve booked myself on a walking trip of Seoul’s palace area, courtesy of the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea branch. We’re due to meet outside the Deoksu Palace at 9am, hence in part my reluctance to over-indulge the previous evening. It’s a pleasant day […]

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Guilt, Nostalgia, and Victimhood: Korea in the Japanese Theatrical Imagination

by Philip Gowman 25 November 2011
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Looks like a very interesting talk at the Japan Foundation on 1 December. Of course, it has to clash with something equally as compelling: a rare screening of Kim Ki-young’s Insect Woman at the KCC. The Japan Foundation hosts: Guilt, Nostalgia, and Victimhood: Korea in the Japanese Theatrical Imagination Speaker: Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei (UCLA) How […]

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Creating Impressions of Colonial Korea: The Role Played by the Japan Society and its Membership, 1910-1939

by Philip Gowman 1 October 2011
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The Japan Society is holding a talk on 17 October which may be of interest to Koreanists: Creating Impressions of Colonial Korea: The Role Played by the Japan Society and its Membership, 1910-1939 Susan House Wade, Independent Author and Lecturer Monday, 17th October 2011 6.45 pm The Oriental Club Stratford House 11 Stratford Place London […]

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So far from the Bamboo Grove discussed by Governor Romney

by Philip Gowman 1 October 2011
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WikiLeaks: Massachusetts governor Romney discussed So Far From the Bamboo Grove with acting foreign minister Cho Jung-pyo in 2006. The book, on state school reading lists, contributes to a negative perception of Koreans. Authors: Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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Documentary footage of Korea in 1925

by Philip Gowman 7 September 2011
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Amazing documentary footage of Korea in 1925, made by German missionary bit.ly/oDyCkw

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The forgotten story of Sohn Kee-chung, Korea’s 1936 Olympic hero

by Philip Gowman 27 August 2011
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The forgotten story of Sohn Kee-chung, Korea’s 1936 Olympic hero and Marathon winner http://t.co/aNMnK13 via @guardian #

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Book review: Pearl Buck’s Living Reed

by Philip Gowman 25 February 2011
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Pearl S Buck: Living Reed – A Novel of Korea Moyer Bell, 1963 Pearl Buck spent most of her childhood and early adulthood in China in an American missionary family and, mixing with local children, grew up with an unrivaled understanding of the country. Her experiences were distilled into an unexpectedly bestselling trilogy of novels […]

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Book review: The Calligrapher’s Daughter

by Philip Gowman 21 January 2011
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Eugenia Kim: The Calligrapher’s Daughter Bloomsbury, 2010 Eugenia Sun-hee Kim’s first novel is based in part on the life of her mother, who was born in Japanese-occupied Korea and later emigrated to America after having lived to see liberation. The key characters in the novel are Najin – born on the day that Japan formally […]

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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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