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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 […]

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Kingdom of Pines: State Forestry and the Making of Korea, 1392-1910

by Events Editor 31 October 2018
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Part of the Autumn 2018 season of seminars at SOAS: Kingdom of Pines: State Forestry and the Making of Korea, 1392-1910 John Lee (Manchester) Friday 23 November 2018, 5:15 – 7:00pm SOAS Brunei Gallery Room B211 Abstract For almost every society before the twentieth century, the forest ecosystem was the main source of fuel, construction […]

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November literature night: Mary Lynn Bracht’s White Chrysanthemum

by Events Editor 28 October 2018
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A break from tradition this month. November’s book for discussion is a novel written in English, rather than one translated from the Korean. We’ll be there because we rather liked the book. White Chrysanthemum: A discussion with author Mary Lynn Bracht Wednesday 28 November, 19.00-21.00 Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK Entrance Free – Booking Essential. […]

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Book review: Mary Lynn Bracht — White Chrysanthemum

by Philip Gowman 9 August 2018
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Mary Lynn Bracht: White Chrysanthemum Penguin Random House 2018, 320pp White Chrysanthemum, the debut novel from Mary Lynn Bracht, tells the story of two sisters, brought up on Jeju Island, who were tragically separated in the last years of the Second World War. The elder sister, Hana, is abducted into sexual slavery by a Japanese […]

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New books for the summer

by Philip Gowman 16 July 2018
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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 […]

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Review: 1987 – When the Day Comes

by Philip Gowman 18 June 2018
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1987: When the Day Comes is one of those movies which could not have been made a couple of years ago. It would have got the director and its all-star cast included on the infamous blacklist of suspected lefties who would not get government support in future. And to have the director of this film […]

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UK Premiere screening: 1987: When the Day Comes

by Events Editor 7 June 2018
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After Save the Green Planet (2003), one of my own favourites from that decade, director Jang Joon-hwan took a long break. I’m afraid I missed his second feature, Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013), something that I’m going to have to rectify, because his third film, coming to the Picturehouse Central this month, has been getting […]

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The Longest Tomb: Documentary on the Daejeon Massacre (1950)

by Events Editor 25 May 2018
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At SOAS next week: Film Screening and Q&A: The Longest Tomb 29 May 2018, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Alumni Lecture Theatre Facebook event page Knowledge is Power and The Education Centre for Peace and Reunification present The Longest Tomb, the first ever documentary on the controversial subject of […]

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Book review: Shin Kyung-sook – The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2018
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Shin Kyung-sook: The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness Translated by Jung Ha-yun Pegasus Book, New York, 2015, 369pp Originally published as 외딴방, Munhakdongne, 1995 When reading Ahn Jung-hyo’s White Badge, I found myself wondering why, despite what I thought was my general antipathy to novels with listless central characters who can’t seem to find their way […]

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Book Review: Ahn Jung-hyo – White Badge

by Philip Gowman 20 April 2018
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Ahn Jung-hyo: White Badge Soho Press, NY, 1989, 337pp Originally published as 하얀전쟁, 1983 Translated by the author If I saw Jeong Ji-young’s White Badge (1992) when it screened in London eight years ago, I do not remember it. I cannot imagine having a similar lapse of memory concerning Ahn Jung-hyo’s Vietnam war novel on […]

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Film review: Yu Hyun-mok’s Descendants of Cain

by Philip Gowman 13 April 2018
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I had looked forward to the first movie in the KCC’s Korean Novels on Screen series – Kim Ki-young’s adaptation of Yi Kwang-su’s The Soil – and had been disappointed. Conversely, not being a particular fan of Yu Hyun-mok’s depressing movies, I was regarding the second in the series – his adaptation of Hwang Sun-won’s 1954 […]

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Brief review: Kim Ki-young – The Soil

by Philip Gowman 2 April 2018
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I’m not sure quite how to assess Kim Ki-young’s adaptation of Yi Kwang-su’s 500-page serial novel The Soil (흙, 1932-3). At 125 minutes, it doesn’t sound particularly long. But as we got up from our seats at the KCC last Thursday at around 9:15pm, it felt much later – maybe around 10:30pm. And that wasn’t […]

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April Literature Night: Silver Stallion with Ahn Jung-hyo

by Events Editor 30 March 2018
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Ahn Jung-hyo is in town not just to talk about his novel Silver Stallion but also his Vietnam War novel White Badge, which will be screened at the KCC later in the week. We reviewed Silver Stallion ten years ago but that won’t stop us reading it again. Literature Night: Ahn Jung-hyo’s Silver Stallion 25 […]

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Book review: Yi Kwang-su — The Soil

by Philip Gowman 26 March 2018
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Yi Kwang-su: The Soil Translated by Hwang Sun-ae and Horace Jeffery Hodges Dalkey Archive, 2013, 512pp Originally published as 흙, 1932-3 Yi Kwang-su’s The Soil, at over 500 pages long, is not a book that immediately entices you to read it. But with a screening of Kim Ki-young’s adaptation of the novel coming up shortly […]

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Yi Han-eung remembered at BKS Seollal celebration

by Philip Gowman 17 March 2018
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The British Korean Society gathered on the newly refurbished top floor of the South Korean embassy yesterday for a belated celebration of Seollal, courtesy of the Deputy Head of Mission, Minister Sun Nahmkook. Apart from the generous buffet, a splendid selection of innovative cocktails and the opportunity to socialise, the highlight of the evening was […]

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Screening: Kim Ki-young’s The Soil

by Events Editor 8 March 2018
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This year the KCC’s first film screenings are adaptations of Korean novels. We start the season with Kim Ki-young’s adaptation of Yi Kwang-su’s 1932 novel 흙, variously known as The Soil, Earth or Peasants. Kim Ki-young: The Soil (흙 – 1978) Cast: Lee Hwa-si, Kim Jeong-cheol, Yeom Bok-soon, Nam Sung-hoon Thu 29 March 2018, 19:00 […]

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Japan Society talk: Escaping to North Korea – with Markus Bell

by Events Editor 18 February 2018
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Apologies for the late notice of tomorrow’s talk organised by the Japan Society, which may by now be fully subscribed. The speaker gave a fascinating talk at SOAS on broadly the same subject a few months ago, so I’d have high hopes of this one too. Escaping to North Korea – with Markus Bell 19 […]

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