Brief review: Kim Sagwa – Mina

Kim Sagwa: Mina Translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton Two Lines Press, 2018, 237pp Originally published as 미나, Changbi Publishers, 2008. Hell Joseon has become an increasingly familiar context for contemporary Korean literature. But the novels and stories I can think of all focus on the struggles of the poor or those who are just […]

December events 2019

Thankfully, this is a much quieter month. Exhibitions Still on: Nam June Paik at Tate Modern (till next year) Suh Do-ho near Liverpool Street (till next year) Suh Shinuk at Unit 1 | Workshop (till early January) Oh Man Chul at Han Collection (till 21 December) Coming this month Kang Kyungsuck at the KCC (from […]

Shinuk Suh: Man(u)fractured, at Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

Late notice of an exhibition by Shinuk Suh following his Workshop Foundation residency. Shinuk Suh: Man(u)fractured 29 November 2019-11 January 2020 Private View: Thursday, 28 November 2019 Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop | 1 Bard Road | London W10 6TP | unit1gallery-workshop.com Nearest stations: Latimer Road and Shepherd’s Bush Tue – Sat: 11am – 5pm […]

Joo Yeon Sir: Chaconnes, Divertimento & Rhapsodies

Hearing Joo Yeon Sir’s barnstorming performance of Pancho Vladigerov’s Bulgarian Rhapsody “Vardar” at St James’s Piccadilly with Irina Andrievsky in August made me want to return to her recently-released second CD, Chaconnes, Divertimento & Rhapsodies, for which Vardar is the penultimate track. The album, from Rubicon Classics, follows on from her successful first album Suites and […]

Gig review: Kyungso Park, SB Circle + Hey String

Isn’t it refreshing when a band exceeds expectations? When you were expecting something pretty good, and you get something astoundingly good. When the newbie support band has the class to headline their own gig. OK, to call the gayageum trio Hey String a newbie band neglects to mention their success as prizewinners in Seoul Namsan […]

Exhibition visit: Najeon and Ottchil, at Asia House

The current exhibition at Asia House, featuring exquisite work by contemporary master craftsmen and women, celebrates 70 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and the Republic of Korea. Najeon is the craft of decoration using mother of pearl, usually made from abalone shells, while Ottchil is the craft of creating objects out of lacquer. […]

Film Review: Love, Lies (Park Heung-sik, 2016)

An historic album made by a hitherto unknown Korean popular music singer from the colonial period is literally unearthed in a modern-day construction site. Miraculously, although the LP is damaged, audio engineers can restore the sound to something like the original, for broadcast on a golden oldies radio show. But who is the singer, and […]

November events 2019

The autumnal calendar cornucopia, wastefully overflowing, continues into this month. Even the most assiduous devotees of Korean culture will only be able to attend around half of the screenings, performances and other events that clamour for your attention in the first full week of the month. Thanks to similar diary clashes and inconvenient screening times […]

Gig review: Kim Doo Soo at Cafe OTO

Kim Doo Soo’s stage set-up is simple but carefully planned. The stage hand has marked out the precise place where the music stand is to be positioned, and the chair – which offers the minimum of comforts. A table to the musician’s right has some water and a surface to keep the various harmonicas; also […]

A roundup of the early Autumn celebrations

As people return from their summer holidays and prepare for the autumn season, there’s a range of celebratory events that form part of the annaul cycle: from the Korean holiday calendar there’s Chuseok (celebrated over the full moon of the 8th lunar month – 12 -14 September this year) and National Foundation Day, also known […]

Brief review: Park Jiha at Rich Mix

Park Jiha closed K-music 2017 supported by a trio of musicians (playing bass, sax and vibes). She returned to London this year as a solo performer, presenting material from her new album, Philos, as well as older material. We also got one premiere. Park plays yanggeum (dulcimer), piri (oboe) and saenghwang (mouth organ), and when […]

Samuel Hawley’s Imjin War comes to YouTube

One of my most enjoyable reads so far this year has been Samuel Hawley’s Imjin War, originally published in 2005. At 664 pages long it might seem a bit intimidating, but in my view it could probably be twice as long and still be as gripping. But for those who like their history in nibble-sized […]

Nature Republic comes to London

We’ve had temporary pop-up beauty stores before, and since earlier this year the independent SOKOLLAB has been in Soho selling K-beauty and K-pop products. But now the big Korean beauty brand Nature Republic is opening up in London as part of an international expansion plan across Asia, America and the Middle East. The store, at […]