Book review: Yi In-hwa’s Everlasting Empire

Some time ago I watched Park Chong-wan’s 1995 historical mystery movie Eternal Empire on DVD, having purchased it on the strength of its inclusion in Darcy Paquet’s list of top films from the 1990s. I must have been tired when I watched it: I simply have no recollection of what I thought of it, though […]

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: 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 […]

Review: Kim Yideum – Blood Sisters

Kim Yideum: Blood Sisters Translated by Jiyoon Lee Deep Vellum, 2019, 202pp Originally published as 블러드 시스터즈 by Munhakdongne, 2011 I seem to be on a roll with translated fiction this year. Two disappointments (Marilyn and Me and Kim Jiyoung), but now seven that are highly recommendable. I picked this novel off the reading pile […]

Screening: The Marines Who Never Returned CANCELLED

This screening is now cancelled as the KCC has closed, in common with many cultural venues, as a result of the health situation. The KCC’s first season of in-house screenings this year commemorates the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. The Marines Who Never Returned Director: Lee Man-hee (1963, 110 mins) Cast: […]

Book review: Marilyn and Me

Ji-min Lee: Marilyn and Me Translated by Chi-young Kim HarperCollins / 4th Estate 2019, 176pp Originally published as 나와마릴린, 2009 “Where did all the beautiful and hopeful young women go?” That was the thought that occurred to author Ji-Min Lee, looking back at the grim post-war years, and looking at a couple of photographs from […]

SOAS seminar – Small China concept in the T’aengniji by Yi Chung-hwan

The last SOAS seminar before Brexit… The Small China concept in the “T’aengniji” by Yi Chung-hwan (1690-1756?) Dr Nataliya Chesnokova (National Research University Higher School of Economics) 31 January 2020, 5:15 – 7:00 PM Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), Alumni Lecture Theatre, SOAS Free | Registration link on SOAS website Abstract The late Chosǒn period […]

Brief book review: Suni Samchon

Hyun Ki-young: Suni Samchon Translated by Lee Jung-hi Asia Publishers Bilingual Edition, 2012, 186pp Jeju Island, in Korean literature of the late 70s and 80s, is not the honeymoon destination of more recent years. It was a place of poverty, of bitter memories – a place to escape from rather than a destination to visit […]

SOAS seminar: Socialist competition and class formation in DPRK, 1953-56

A seminar at SOAS tomorrow, just announced. Looks interesting. Socialist competition and class formation in North Korea’s post-Korean War recovery, 1953-1956 Dr Owen Miller (SOAS) Friday 6 December 2019, 5:15 – 7:00 pm Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Alumni Lecture Theatre Register on SOAS website Abstract How did North Korea manage to recover […]

The World’s First ‘Active’ Greenhouse

The greenhouse is an ancient invention, dating back 2,200 years. Modern ‘active’ greenhouses are distinguished from older ‘passive’ ones by the fact that they allow for the adjustment of air and soil temperature. Previously, the first such greenhouses were believed to have been built in Germany in 1619, using a stove to regulate air temperature, […]

Film Review: Love, Lies (Park Heung-sik, 2016)

An historic album made by a hitherto unknown Korean popular music singer from the colonial period is literally unearthed in a modern-day construction site. Miraculously, although the LP is damaged, audio engineers can restore the sound to something like the original, for broadcast on a golden oldies radio show. But who is the singer, and […]

Screening: Returning, After Seventy Years

Wednesday 29 October 2019, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm SOAS | Russell Square | College Buildings Room: 4429 Register online here Synopsis In September 1950 the Daily Worker journalist Alan Winnington released his pamphlet “I Saw The Truth in Korea” which documented atrocities in Daejeon during the Korean War presided over by the South Korean […]