Brief review: Samuel Hawley — The Imjin War

Samuel Hawley: The Imjin War – Japan’s Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China 2nd Edition, Conquistador Press 2014 Originally published by Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, Seoul, 2005 How is it that a 664 page book only merits a brief review? Well, because as an historical book a proper review should only […]

Book review: Min Kym — Gone

Min Jin Kym: Gone — A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung Viking, 2017, 256pp When Min Jin Kym’s Gone came out, I mentally heaved a sigh of relief. Here’s one Korea-related book, I thought, among the dozens that will be published this year, that I don’t need to read. The story of how her […]

New and upcoming non-fiction titles for 2019

Unlike my list that attempts to compile upcoming literature and fiction titles, here I’ve had to be selective in what to include, otherwise the length of this post would be unmanageable. Nevertheless I’ve almost certainly missed out some titles that I’d want to have on my bookshelf. I’ve divided the list into seven sections: Literature […]

A look back at the 2018 literary year

A look back at the books and literary events of the year – and a summary of my reading diary. Literature in translation In translated fiction, my reading this year has not managed anywhere near to keep pace with the amount of translations being published. I know I said the same in respect of 2017 […]

Book review: Blaine Harden – King of Spies

Blaine Harden: King of Spies – The dark reign of America’s spymaster in Korea Mantle, 2018, 272 pp The character of the maverick cop, or even maverick spy, delivering outstanding results through unorthodox means and despite a disregard for hierarchy, is a familiar one in crime and spy fiction. Blaine Harden, who worked with Shin […]

Talking to North Korea: Ending the Nuclear Standoff

News of a book launch and talk at Bookmarks: Talking to North Korea: Ending the Nuclear Standoff Thursday 08 November 6.30 With Glyn Ford Bookmarks | 1 Bloomsbury Street | London WC1B 3QE | bookmarksbookshop.co.uk Admission £2.00 Payable on door Reserve your place here or call 020 7637 1848 North Korea’s regime is often called […]

Exhibition visit: Nick Bonner’s Made in North Korea

When one thinks of North Korean graphic art, images of strident anti-American propaganda posters spring to mind. Fortunately, and in the current climate of reduced tension on the peninsula, the posters that greeted you in the first room of Nick Bonner’s exhibition at the House of Illustration focused less on stirring up national hatred against […]

New books for the summer

A couple of new books to take with you on your summer break – or, more likely in respect of the first on the list, to adorn your coffee table when you return. First, fulsomely reviewed by Andrew Salmon in Asia Times, comes Inside North Korea by The Guardian‘s architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright […]

Book review: Lee Yil – Dynamics of Expansion and Reduction

Lee Yil: Dynamics of Expansion and Reduction Selected Writings on Korean Contemporary Art, 1970 – 1996 Initial draft translations: Chung Yeon-shim, Park Eun-ah, Park Sung-ji Final translations: Paul O’Kane, Song Bada Published by AICA (International Association of Art Critics) / Les Presses du Réel, Dijon, France, 2018, 212pp How often do you read the learned […]

Lee Yil: seminar and book launch of selected writings on Contemporary Korean Art

Artist Bada Song and critic / lecturer Paul O’Kane spent a large part of last year helping to translate and edit an important new collection of mid-to-late 20th century writings of renowned Korean art critic Lee Yil (1932-1997), “the main observer of “Dansaekhwa”, or Korean monochrome”. That work has now come to fruition, with the […]

New and upcoming non-fiction titles for 2018

Too many books, not enough time to read them, or space to store them. Encouragingly, in a skim of the upcoming publication lists I had no problems finding plenty of books on a wide range of interesting topics. No longer it seems is the reading public (or the publishers’ perception thereof) solely interested in that […]

BKS hosts an interview with Michael Breen

We enjoyed Mike Breen’s first book – The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies – and are currently enjoying this completely new and updated version. It’s full of fascinating detail as well as giving you the big picture. We were hoping to have written a review by now, but events […]

Book review: Bandi — The Accusation

Bandi: The Accusation – Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea Translated by Deborah Smith Serpents Tail 2017, 245 pp Originally published as 고발, Chogabje.com, 2014. Mike Breen, in his book The New Koreans, describes han as “a kind of rage and helplessness that is sublimated and lingers like an inactive resentment” and is often evidenced in […]