1960-1993

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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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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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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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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SOAS conference: Colonialism and its Reverberations

by Events Editor 16 January 2018
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A good half-day conference coming at the beginning of February. Check the event’s Facebook page or the SOAS website for updates. Colonialism and its Reverberations: ‘Comfort Women’ and Historical Revisionism in Korea and Japan Professor Yonson Ahn (University of Frankfurt), Professor Vladimir Tikhonov (University of Oslo), Professor Chong Yeonghwan (Meiji Gakuin University) 3 February 2018, […]

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Festival film review: Bae Chang-ho’s Whale Hunting

by Philip Gowman 24 November 2017
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Based on a story by long-standing collaborator Choe In-ho, Whale Hunting is one of Korea’s seminal road movies. Hunting the whale, in the dark days of the dictatorship, was symbolic for yearning for things beyond the day-to-day. In Bae Chang-ho’s 1984 movie it represented the search for the things that give life meaning; in a […]

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Festival film review: Bae Chang-ho’s People of the Slum

by Philip Gowman 20 November 2017
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Bae Chang-ho’s debut feature, People of the Slum (1982), is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Lee Dong-chul. The film tells the story of a complicated love triangle. Myeong-sook, played by Kim Bo-yeon, lives with her second husband, the idle and dissolute Tae-seop (played by Kim Hui-ra). Living in the same house in the run-down […]

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Film review: A Taxi Driver

by Philip Gowman 31 August 2017
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I went along to watch A Taxi Driver out of a sense of duty. What can be said about Gwangju, I thought, that hasn’t been said already? I’d rather see a documentary. Plus, Korean movies with foreign actors always raise slight alarm bells with me (Isabelle Huppert in Hong Sang-soo’s In Another Country left me […]

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Double book review: two takes on Shin Sang-ok

by Philip Gowman 8 January 2016
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Paul Fischer: A Kim Jong-il Production Penguin / Viking 2015, 353pp Steven Chung: Split Screen Korea – Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema University of Minnesota Press 2014, 262pp The story of actress Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok combines elements of both romance and thriller as well as representing important phases in the history of film […]

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UK-Korea Relations – A Talk by Thomas Harris KBE

by Matthew Jackson 2 July 2014
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The talk on UK-Korea relations by Sir Thomas Harris KBE CMG, held at Gresham College on Friday 27th of June, was both a stimulating and ultimately uplifting account of the diplomatic and economic interactions between the two countries before and after the Korean War. Amongst his various international posts as a businessman and diplomat, Sir […]

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March For The Beloved – in memory of Gwangju

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2013
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On the anniversary of the 18 May 1980 uprising in Gwangju, here is song which became its unofficial anthem. It was written in 1982 by Kim Jong-ryul for his friends, a couple who were murdered in the uprising. The title is 임을 위한 행진곡 or “March for the beloved”, sometimes translated as “March for the […]

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Kim Sung Ok: A Literature of and for the Self – Steve Capener at SOAS

by Events Editor 13 May 2013
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On his way to a conference on Alternative Modernisms in Cardiff, Steve Capener gives a talk on one of my favourite authors. Kim Sung Ok: A Literature of and for the Self Steve Capener (Assistant Professor, Seoul Women’s University) 14 May 2013, 5:15 – 7:00 PM Russell Square Room 4421 Abstract After he took power […]

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Book review: Yi Mun-yol — Our Twisted Hero

by Philip Gowman 19 October 2012
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Yi Mun-yol: Our Twisted Hero Originally published 1987 Translated by Kevin O’Rourke Available on Kindle (Minumsa, 2012) or hard copy (Hyperion Books, 2001) Moving to the provinces from a school in Seoul in which the social hierarchy was one he had lived with all his life, our twelve-year-old hero Han Pyongt’ae is faced with a […]

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SOAS public workshop: State Capitalism and Development in East Asia

by Events Editor 11 October 2012
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A free all-day seminar sponsored by the Centre of Korean Studies at SOAS: State Capitalism and Development in East Asia Speakers Jeong Seongjin (Gyeongsang National University) Lee Jeong-koo (GNU) Gareth Dale (Brunel University) Jamie Allinson (University of Westminster) Owen Miller (SOAS, University of London) Tuesday, 6 November 2012, 10am-5pm Room B111, First Floor, Brunei Gallery, […]

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2012 Travel Diary 9: Yun Isang — Victim of the Cold War

by Philip Gowman 29 May 2012
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Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Monday 26 March 2012. For most big Korean cultural events there’s a glossy brochure with a welcome message from various officials and dignitaries. And for the most important events you might expect a welcome message from the Minister of Culture. It is a measure of the sensitivity of the Tongyeong International Music Festival’s […]

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