Che Guevara in Korean poetry

Here’s a fascinating query I just received from a reader. I am compiling a book of poetry from around the world about the Argentine-Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. I have been referred to the titles of two Korean poems that make indirect references to Che: In front of Kim Nam-ju’s grave written by Min Yeong in […]

The magic straight perm

After receiving two requests from readers about Korean hairdressers in London who do hair straightening, I thought I’d do a bit of research. My first problem was this: why on earth would Koreans (and Japanese for that matter) want to develop complex mechanisms for straightening hair when their hair is straight anyway? The Chosun Ilbo […]

Pyongyang’s latest statue and other DPRK humour

One view of recent events: Pyongyang’s latest statue © Chappatte – (where you can find more along the same lines: filter on “Nuclear North Korea”). Plus, for “On-the-spot whimsy and wisdom from a Benevolent Despot” – an irreverent blogger claiming to be from within the DPRK – visit the Beloved Leader. And some unintended […]

“Through the Looking Glass” panel discussion at Asia house

Yesterday morning’s panel session gave a priveleged1 insight into the work of some of the artists represented at the stimulating show at Asia House. Chaired by Beth McKillop of the V&A, the discussant panel included Alessio Antoniolli from Gasworks, Hans Ulrich Obrist from The Serpentine, curator Jiyoon Lee and artists Duck-hyun Cho, Yeondoo Jung, Jeong-hwa […]

Fame at last?

Thanks to UK fan for letting me know that a (thankfully) heavily-edited version of my recent interview aired today on YTN as part of a bigger piece on the hallyu in the UK. The Times’s recent Korean supplement was featured, as were Korean footballers in the premier league. They also interviewed Mr Choi who will […]

Is Korean cinema’s heyday over?

Darcy has a thoughtful piece on his “What’s New” page, sensing a lack of dynamism in mainstream Korean cinema. While noting that Korean films in September took 83% of local box office, and Hollywood was beaten into third place by Japan, But you’ll have to forgive me if, despite the numbers, I feel a lack […]

Beer-bottle VC honoured

The Korean War featured briefly in the first episode of a Channel 5 series, presented by Prince Charles, on Sunday. The series is about holders of the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for military bravery. The first Victoria Cross awarded by our current monarch was to Bill Speakman (left) of the Black Watch, attached to […]

Freestyle #3

(July 2004) Primarily for rap-lovers. Strangely, 5 out of the 14 tracks have no musical content whatsoever, being recordings of one end of a phone conversation. Not understanding Korean, I don’t know whether there is any deep significance in these tracks. The first four tracks I can happily live without. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, […]

BoA #5: Girls on top

(2005) BoA’s 5th Korean album is leagues ahead of her 2nd, (No 1). Since then, she’s worked on her voice, and her managers have hired some decent songwriters and pushed the music in a more international direction. Let’s get the final track, 가을 편지, out of the way first, as it’s atypical. It comes as […]

BoA #2: No.1

(January 2002) With the emphasis on electronic sounds rather than compositional inspiration, this is not a recommendable album. The robotic drum machine, brainless key shifts and silly noises do not make for engaging listening. BoA’s voice is nothing remarkable, a bit nasal – though not unpleasant. Perhaps the video is worth watching, but I’m not […]