Pyongyang – the view from Europe

Glyn Ford (with Kwon Soyoung): North Korea on the Brink (Pluto Press, 2008) Books on North Korea tend to blur in to one another. There are seemingly countless volumes either describing life under the Kims or analysing the history of diplomatic and undiplomatic engagement between the DPRK and the rest of the world, particularly the […]

Charlie Crane: Welcome to Pyongyang

Chris Boot, 2007 The new photo book on Pyongyang can be appreciated on a number of levels. Firstly, there’s the literal level: it’s a collection of well-taken photos, with captions provided by the North Korean Tourist Board. But like it or not, whenever you see anything in which the North Koreans have had a hand, […]

New and upcoming books

Tom Coyner and Jang Song-hyon have just brought out Mastering Business in Korea – A Practical Guide. The ad in Seoul Magazine reads as follows: In an engaging and easy-to-read format, two experienced business consultants explain the ins and outs of contemporary Korean business culture, etiquette, work rules, and marketing to the Korean consumer. Pick […]

Andrew Holloway: A Year in Pyongyang

(Aidan FC’s website, 1988) Amid the pile of available reading material on the DPRK, is there room for an unpublished memoir, getting on for 20 years old, recording the experiences of a lowly “raiser” — someone who converts Konglish into English — in late 1980s Pyongyang? Definitely yes. Though obviously not state of the art, […]

Jane Portal: Art under control in North Korea

Jane Portal: Art under control in North Korea Reaction Books / British Museum Press, 2005, 192pp An interesting, easy to read book cataloguing the different art forms in North Korea. Some of the works, particularly poster art, have been on display in the Korean gallery in the British Museum. The book carefully avoids making judgements […]

Hwang Sok-yong: The Guest

(Seven Stories, 2005) Transalted by Chun Kyung-ja and Maya West Originally published as 손님, Seoul 2001 The Guest of the title is an unwelcome foreigner: originally applied to smallpox, it is used by extension to cover the cultural imports of communism and Christianity. The theme of the book is that until the ghosts of the […]