London Korean Links is a UK-based website founded in 2006 which covers Korean arts and culture in London and elsewhere. It is a reflection of the way Korean culture has begun to gain momentum among foreigners outside of Asia. It provides a space for those who are interested in Korean culture to write about their enthusiasm, while providing an independent source of information and critique about events in London and Korean cultural content generally available internationally.
It has a team of volunteer writers covering a wide range of Korea-related topics:
- News and reviews of Korea-events in London and elsewhere, both those sponsored by the Korean Cultural Centre and independently organised events
- Reviews of books related to Korea
- Album, film and drama reviews
- Interviews with musicians and other prominent individuals
- Description of some of Korea’s historical cultural achievements
- Analysis of some of the Korean treasures in the British Museum
- Travel tips and diaries of trips to Korea
- The Korean football league, and Korean footballers in the UK
- Articles highlighting connections between the UK and Korea
- Anything else that its writers think interesting or noteworthy
The website takes particular interest in UK based Korean artists, performers and designers, and in Korean artists and performers visiting the UK. It also aims to support events organisers by providing a free publicity service for advertising their events. The website has been featured in the Korea Times and the Donga Weeklymagazine, and has been described by Anna Fifield of the Financial Times as “a great resource” and by Aidan Foster-Carter in the Asia Times as “excellent”. The site has an international readership, attracting visitors from emerging countries interested in Korean popular music and drama, and followers of Korean film and arts in the West.
The website’s is founder and editor is Philip Gowman, who runs the site as an evening hobby. He graduated from Oxford University in 1984 and since then has worked in London’s financial services industry. His interest in Korea commenced in the late 1980s when one of his clients was a mutual fund investing in the Korean stock market, in the days when LG was Lucky Goldstar; and in the 1990s he spent much of his time assisting Korean banks to acquire their UK banking licences. Then the wave of exciting, genre-bending films coming from Korea in 2000 and beyond showed him that there was much more to explore. Chance encounters with Koreans in London, together with the many events organised by the Korean Cultural Centre, have led to a wider appreciation of Korean food, film, music and history.
What this site started as
When I started this site, it had several objectives. This is how I introduced it back in 2006:
- First and foremost, it’s designed as a personal scrapbook, collecting together news sources, articles and other stuff which I don’t want to lose. It’s also a personal memo pad, reminding me what I thought of the various books I’ve read, films I’ve watched, music I’ve heard and shows I’ve seen. Somehow it’s easier doing all this on a blogging package than a note book. The ability to file things in multiple categories, to use a search engine, makes things so much easier to find if, like me, you’re bad at filing. If you like, this site is a diary of my own exploration of and encounter with Korean culture, which is why it has ended up as a blog.
- Secondly, it’s a small attempt to bring together the various organisations out there who bring Korean culture and academia to the public in London. So often, some of these organisations are better at marketing to the Korean community rather than to the British; often the coordination between the organisations is not as good as it could be, so that events clash. But most importantly, I have yet to find a consolidated list of all Korean cultural events in London – so I’m trying to do this as a service to others like me who might be interested.
- Finally, this site is designed to help people wherever they are, with English as their first language, who are interested in Korean culture. Many westerners have been caught up by the Korean Wave, and in particular the explosion of Korean film onto our cinema screens. Some of them now want to know more about the country which gave rise to this creative talent. Much of the information on Korea is only available in the Korean language, and for many it’s difficult to know where to start. The links and information on this site, which represent the fruit of about five years browsing the web and retail outlets both virtual and physical, is of necessity an eclectic and personal selection, but I hope it is useful to those who like me struggled to find out more. If you’re looking for specialist and intellectual content, try somewhere else, or follow up on some of the links I include here. This site is meant to be user-friendly and generalist in nature.
Please send me comments or suggestions. I can’t hope to cover everything, and if there are people out there with time, enthusiasm and knowledge of a particular subject area, I’d love to hear from you.
Site history and construction
The idea for this site came to me out of the blue sometime in February 2006, and the first static materials didn’t take long to write. Not being particularly web-savvy, I created a very straightforward site in Microsoft Publisher and uploaded it onto my personal webspace which comes with my broadband package. In March 2006 I decided I needed a decent domain name, and began to have fond hopes that other people might find the site useful. That meant forking out for a webhosting service, without which I couldn’t see a way to have my site coming up on google. Still, it doesn’t cost much.
But after a while I found myself spending far too much time updating and FTPing my Publisher files, and started exploring blogging packages as an easier way of updating the site. After some google searches I came up with WordPress. I vowed I’d never get in to html and other stuff like that, but I found WordPress reasonably user-friendly, but was frustrated at my inability to get it to do what I wanted it to. I’m gradually making progress on this score, as I mug up on the tecchy side of things. It’s an ongoing learning experience.
The design of the site has evolved over time. No blogger is content with leaving things as they are for too long. With thanks to Scott Wallick at plaintxt.org for providing the foundation (in the form of the highly elegant and simple plaintxt theme) for LKL’s look for most of its first three years of existence, LKL is now using the Thesis template by DIYthemes. Every set of templates involves compromises. In moving to Thesis in August 2009 I’ve simply traded one set of compromises for another. A couple of years down the road, as priorities change, it will no doubt be time to move on again.
이제까지 알게 모르게 저의 한국 문화와 역사에 대한 관심과 이해를 높여준 한국 친구들에게 이 웹사이트를 빌어 진심으로 감사를 표합니다. 제게 특별한 혜택을 준 친구들은 본인 스스로가 자신이 얼마나 저에게 소중한 사람인지를 알고 있을 것입니다. 그들을 만난 순서대로 언급해보면 다음과 같습니다. (Citibank에 병합된) 한미은행의 전 런던지점 매니저 이 인호. 환경의 변화속에서 지속된 제주 해녀들의 본질적 모습과 인고력, 그리고 연기가 자욱한 런던의 펍 을 사진을 통해 포착해온 예술가 겸 사진가이며 그리고 더없이 관대한 영혼을 지니 백 경숙. 세상에서 가장 훌륭한 차를 만드는 제주도 목석원의 백 운철. University of Arts London 의 학위를 위해 그녀의 어려운 에세이를 잡고 함께 씨름했던 재능 많은 헤어디자이너 김남희. 그리고 폭넒은 일반상식과 영어교육기술을 가진 고집스러운 남희의 여동생 민. 높은 성취를 보여준 학자, 자신의 정치관, 언어선택, 연구주제, 논쟁거리에 대한 지칠줄 모르는 열정을 지닌 박소양. 내가 다니는 회사의 서울 지점에 최연숙과 신영미. 신사적이고, 조용하지만 쉴새 없이 일하는 런던의 한국 문화대사 오태민, 태민의 미술 다이렉터 김승민. 이상 다시한 번 이 모든 이들에게 감사를 표합니다
A lot of the images on this site I’ve plundered from online sources. If you think I’m infringing copyright in any way please let me know and I’ll do something about it.