London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Passcode to the Third Floor: An Insider’s Account of Life Among North Korea’s Political Elite [forthcoming]

Thae Yong-ho was a leading North Korean diplomat to the United Kingdom and Northern Europe—until his dramatic defection to South Korea in 2016. In this gripping tell-all, he reveals the inner workings of the North Korean regime and shares the story of his decision to leave. Thae spent nearly three decades working under three generations … [Read More]

Song of Arirang: The Story of a Korean Rebel Revolutionary in China

Song of Arirang tells the true story of Korean revolutionary Kim San (Jang Jirak), who left colonized Korea as a teenager to fight against Japanese imperialism and fought alongside Mao’s Red Army during the Chinese Revolution. First published in 1941, this remarkably intimate memoir (as told to the American journalist Nym Wales aka Helen Foster … [Read More]

A Gospel for Workers: Cho Chi Song, Yeongdeungpo Urban Industrial Mission, and Minjung

This book tells three overlapping stories: first, the life story of Rev. Cho Chi Song, a pioneer of urban and industrial missions, which served Korean society’s working population; second, the Urban Industrial Mission (UIM) in Korea, which Cho Chi Song pioneered; and third, the story of how UIM provided the roots for Korean Minjung Theology. … [Read More]

Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage: Essential Writings of Im Yungjidang and Gang Jeongildang

Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage introduces the lives and ideas of two female Korean Confucian philosophers from the late Joseon Dynasty (18th-19th century), Im Yunjidang (1721-1793) and Gang Jeongildang (1772-1832), examining how their writings contribute to contemporary philosophical inquiry. Both philosophers are known for arguing that women are as capable as … [Read More]

A Korean Confucian’s Advice on How to Be Moral: Tasan Chŏng Yagyong’s Reading of the Zhongyong

Tasan Chŏng Yagyong (1762–1836) is one of the most creative thinkers Korea has ever produced, one of the country’s first Christians, and a leading scholar in Confucian philosophy. Born in a staunchly Neo-Confucian society, in his early twenties he encountered writings by Catholic missionaries in China and was fascinated. However, when he later learned that … [Read More]

Voices of the Korean Comfort Women: History Rewritten from Memories

An innumerable number of young women were taken from Korea during the Pacific War to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers. These women including teenagers, euphemistically referred in Japanese documents as Comfort Women, were shipped to the vastly expanded battle fronts throughout the Japan-occupied territories covering from Northern China to Myanmar and to the South … [Read More]

The Master from Mountains and Fields: Prose Writings of Hwadam, Sŏ Kyŏngdŏk

The Master from Mountains and Fields is a fully annotated translation of the prose texts from the “collected works” of Sŏ Kyŏngdŏk (1489–1546), an influential Confucian scholar from the early Chosŏn period (1392-1910). A native of Songdo (also known as Kaesŏng) in present-day North Korea, Sŏ has loomed large in the Korean cultural imagination and appeared … [Read More]

The Letters of the Venerable Father Thomas Choe Yang-eop

An English version of the letters of Father Ga Gyeong-ja Choi Yang-eop (1821-1861), the seminarian colleague of the first Korean priest Sung Kim Dae-geon (1821-1846) and the second Korean priest. The Korean Church History Institute (Chairman: Bishop Son Hee-song, Director: Father Cho Han-geon) published the English version of the letters of Father Thomas Choi Yang-eop, … [Read More]

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki

THE PHENOMENAL KOREAN BESTSELLER PSYCHIATRIST: So how can I help you? ME: I don’t know, I’m – what’s the word – depressed? Do I have to go into detail? Baek Se-Hee is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she begins seeing a psychiatrist about her – what to call it? … [Read More]

The Hard Road Out: Escaping North Korea

North Korea is an open-air prison from which there is no escape. Only a handful of men and women have succeeded. Jihyun Park is one of these rare survivors. Twice she left the land of the ‘socialist miracle’ to flee famine and dictatorship. By the age of 29 she had already witnessed a lifetime of … [Read More]

Gwangju Uprising: The Rebellion for Democracy in South Korea

The essential account of the South Korean 1980 pro-democracy rebellion On 18 May 1980, student activists gathered in the South Korean city of Gwangju to protest the martial law government of General Chun Doo-hwan. The security forces responded with unmitigated violence. Hundreds of students, activists and citizens were arrested, tortured and murdered. This fresh translation … [Read More]

Tigers Unchained: 100 Years of Korean Anarchism

From its introduction in the early-twentieth century during the National Liberation Movement to its influence on contemporary politics and culture, anarchism has had a deep, historical significance in Korea. Tigers Unchained explores that significance through lenses that are simultaneously political, cultural, historical, and aesthetic. This translation constitutes a major contribution to multiple fields, while providing new ways … [Read More]

A Cultural History of Modern Korean Literature: The Birth of Oppa

A Cultural History of Modern Korean Literature: The Birth of Oppa examines the cultural and social impact of Japanese colonialism and modernity on the wider aspects of everyday life in Korea. Selected as an outstanding work in 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences in South Korea, is by any measure a remarkable work. Lee considers … [Read More]

Reflections from Prison: 20 Years and 20 Days

Reflections from Prison is a collection of letters and essays from renowned Korean thinker Shin Young-Bok written during his 20 years as a political prisoner under the military government. ​The letters range from post cards to tiny characters squeezed onto his Army Prison daily ration of two sheets of toilet paper. They provide a window not … [Read More]

Record of the Seasonal Customs of Korea: Tongguk sesigi by Toae Hong Sŏk-mo

Record of the Seasonal Customs of Korea (Tongguk sesigi) is one of the most important primary sources for anyone interested in traditional Korean cultural and social practices. The manuscript was completed in 1849 by Toae Hong Sŏk-mo, a wealthy poet and scholar from an influential family. Toae, with his keen interest in the habits and customs … [Read More]

The Encyclopedia of Daily Life: A Woman’s Guide to Living in Late-Chosŏn Korea

From the publisher’s website: This volume is a fully annotated translation of an early nineteenth-century encyclopedia, the Kyuhap ch’ongsŏ (The Encyclopedia of Daily Life). Written by Lady Yi (1759-1824) as a household management aid for her daughters and daughters-in-law, the work is a treasure trove of information on how women of higher status in the … [Read More]