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 […]

Book review: Paek Nam Nyong – Friend

When faced with a translation of a book written by a North Korean, based on past experiences you might expect material that’s hostile to the regime. Texts that have been rendered into English tend to be either defector testimonies or an occasional collection of short stories or poems by a dissident writer that have apparently […]

Book review: Christopher Lovins on King Chŏngjo

Thus far this year I’ve been focusing on literature in translation. As I wait for the next major wave of publications to hit the shops, I’ve turned my attention to non-fiction. And the first title I reached for was Christopher Lovins’s King Chŏngjo: An Enlightened Despot in Early Modern Korea, which came out in paperback […]

Online lecture: Samsung Rising

Let’s hope there are more of these to keep us interested while stuck at home. Instructions for joining this free Zoom conference can be found on the RASKB website. And while you’re there, join as a member if you haven’t already. Geoffrey Cain will be talking about his book Samsung Rising which was published last […]

Whose Comfort? – book launch at the KCC

Friday 21 February 2020, 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm Korean Cultural Centre UK | Grand Buildings | 1-3 Strand | London WC2N 5B Admission free | Register via Google Docs Join World Scientific Publishing at the Korean Cultural Centre UK to celebrate the launch of Whose Comfort? The issue of sexual violence against civilian ‘comfort […]

Recently published books on Korean film

Having done my list of upcoming fiction titles, I’ve been working on a similar list of upcoming non-fiction. But in compiling the non-fiction list I’ve identified several titles that slipped under the radar towards the end of last year. Three of them relate to film. No doubt, following all the buzz about Parasite, there will […]

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 […]