November literature night: Mary Lynn Bracht’s White Chrysanthemum

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. […]

Review: 1987 – When the Day Comes

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 […]

UK Premiere screening: 1987: When the Day Comes

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 […]

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

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 […]

Book Review: Ahn Jung-hyo – White Badge

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 […]

SOAS conference: Colonialism and its Reverberations

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, […]

Film review: A Taxi Driver

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 […]

Double book review: two takes on Shin Sang-ok

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 […]

Book review: Yi Mun-yol — Our Twisted Hero

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 […]

SOAS public workshop: State Capitalism and Development in East Asia

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, […]

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

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 […]