Yesterday’s (London) Times had a surprise in store. At the bottom of the front page was a promise of the following material in the supplement:
“Dear Bel Mooney: I need sex by arrangement”. But the supplement was not the usual Times2. It was a 12-page “Focus Report” on South Korea — A cultural rebirth.
It was a well-planned feature, with a well-balanced selection of articles. David Watts had been working hard, having written most of them. An introductory page on the nation’s emergence onto the world stage as democracy takes hold (a map showed the peninsula sandwiched between the West Sea and the East Sea); a page on Samsung; an article on Bi / Rain (“The Billy Elliot of Pop”) another on Lee Soo-Man’s SM Entertainment; a brief piece on modern Korean literature; one on Korean animation (Pucca and Pororo); two on the importance Koreans place on learning English; three travel accounts including a temple stay and a trip to Cheju-do. Watts makes space for Chung Chong-wha to write a historical piece, and for Renata Rubnikowicz on a spa visit, but otherwise everything else in the supplement is his.
I’m guessing that this whole affair was pulled together at the instigation of the cultural department at the Embassy, as part of some pre-marketing and awareness-raising in preparation for the forthcoming opening of the cultural centre, which I look forward to very much. It’s great that they’re doing this preparatory work, as I’ve ranted elsewhere that sometimes Koreans are not very good at publicising and explaining their culture to non-Koreans.
One minor gripe. It would have been nice to know that this supplement was coming. I know the embassy knows about the various networks of people who are interested in Korean culture. A quick email a couple of days ago and many more of us might have gone out and bought the Times. As it was, Jason Bechervaise just happened to spot it and rang me at 6:30pm. I bought it on the way home — by which time all the copies of the paper with the supplement on how to have sex by arrangement had been sold, and so now I will never know. The Korean supplement was more than adequate recompense though. Thanks for the info, Jase.