London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Book review: Kim Won-il – The Scorpion

Kim Won-il looks at 80 years of Korean modern history, presenting us with the less glamorous side of the story in a novel that spans three generations of a Milyang-based family who are swept along in the political and economic tides of the colonial period and Korea’s subsequent reconstruction. [Read More]

A look back at our 2021 reading diary

Looking back at this year, it’s been one of the best for new translations of Korean literature that I can remember. There have been at least ten new fiction titles, and unusually for me I managed to get through all the titles I was intending to. All of them are recommendable in their different ways. … [Read More]

Review: Hwang Sok-yong – The Prisoner

How to review the autobiography of one of Korean’s leading novelists, who has won accclaim both sides of the border; who has spent five years in prison as well as being a person of interest to the authorities for much of his professional career? The memoir makes for fascinating reading as literary history: most of … [Read More]

Book review: Kwon Yeo-sun – Lemon

Someone, somewhere, must have done a study of multi-person narratives in Korean fiction – novels which tell the same story (or different episodes involving the same characters) from two or more different perspectives. Two of the best-loved Korean novels in translation use the technique: Please Look After Mother and The Vegetarian. And this year, we’ve … [Read More]

Book review: Kim Soom – One Left

When the issue of comfort women has been with us since the Pacific War, to re-emerge in 1991 when Kim Haksun came forward as the first to announce herself as victim, it is astonishing that we had to wait until 2016 for what is, according to Bonnie Oh’s introduction (p ix), “the first Korean novel … [Read More]

A look back at our 2020 reading diary

Like many readers, we started the year with good intention of blitzing through the pile of new titles that were promised for the coming months, as well as making inroads into the backlog. And we genuinely got off to a good start with a string of fun K-thrillers, some of them new, some not: The … [Read More]

Review: City of Ash and Red

City of Ash and Red is a novel for 2020, even though it was originally published in 2010. Inspired no doubt in part by the SARS outbreak of 2002-3, Pyun Hye-young imagines a world where a virus has the potential to shut down whole countries, in which visitors are tested for infection on arrival at … [Read More]

Review: Na Man’gap – the Diary of 1636

Na Man’gap’s Diary of 1636, as George Kallander explains in his informative introduction, is the longest known private account of the second Manchu invasion of Korea. Na (1592 – 1642) was a senior scholar-official who was with the King and court inside Namhansanseong – he was in charge of military rations – throughout the siege … [Read More]

Review: Pyun Hye-young – The Law of Lines

Life was much deeper than he could ever imagine. It was impossible to tell just how far you could sink1 Two apparent suicides in different parts of the country kick-start two separate story-lines which turn out to be interlinked. Se-oh is the daughter of one of the deceased – a man who had fallen into … [Read More]