Colonial period

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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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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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 Jeffrey 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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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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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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Factory Girls by Yangson Project tours London, Midlands and South

by Events Editor 22 September 2017
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The performing arts programme of Korea/UK 2017-18 year of cultural exchange brings a new production to the UK, in collaboration with Farnham Maltings. The production hits London on 13 October, but is touring the Midlands and South of England before then. Factory Girls 8pm, 13 October 2017 Jacksons Lane | 269a Archway Road | London […]

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Film review: The Battleship Island

by Philip Gowman 30 August 2017
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Synopsis Some nasty Japanese are being beastly to the Korean forced labourers in an offshore Japanese coal mine as the Second World War comes to a close. And one or two Koreans aren’t exactly being that patriotic either. In the middle of it all is a weak, venal Korean who is among the labourers with […]

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Festival Film review: Spirit’s Homecoming

by Philip Gowman 27 December 2016
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With the signing of the Comfort Women “deal” between Japan and South Korea in December 2015 – a deal signed without consulting the victims themselves – the issue of the wartime sex slaves once again came to the fore. While the inter-governmental negotiators were reaching the final stages of their deal-making, Cho Jung-rae’s long-term project […]

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Exhibition news: Memories of Korea, at Han Collection from 6 January

by Events Editor 18 December 2016
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An interesting exhibition to start the New Year: Memories of Korea – Cross-vision from East and West 6th – 28th January 2017 Han Collection | 30 Museum Street | London WC1A 1LH | www.hancollection.co.uk A collection of woodblock prints from both eastern and western artists, using traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques along with a mix […]

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Book review: Hwang Sun-won — Lost Souls

by Philip Gowman 30 August 2016
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Hwang Sun-won: Lost Souls Translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton Columbia University Press 2010, 354pp Having quite enjoyed two of Hwang Sun-won’s fuller-length stories – Trees on a Slope and Descendants of Cain – though without necessarily being enamoured of the characters of the stories they inhabited, I was looking forward to tackling Lost Souls, […]

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Book review: Kim Namcheon – Scenes from the Enlightenment

by Philip Gowman 11 December 2015
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Kim Namcheon — Scenes from the Enlightenment Translated by Charles La Shure Dalkey Archive, 2014, 254pp orignally published as 대하, Inmunsa 1939. A brief review, because this is a book I never finished. The blurb on the back of the book sums the contents up well: An account of seemingly trivial events – a wedding […]

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Book Review: Cho Chongnae — How in Heaven’s Name

by Philip Gowman 4 December 2015
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Cho Chongnae: How in Heaven’s Name Translated by Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton Merwin Asia, 2012, 141 pages. Originally published as 오 하느님 (O God) and renamed 사람의 탈 (Human Mask) How in Heaven’s Name is an appropriate title for the mind-boggling story of how a group of Korean country lads came to be fighting in […]

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Comfort Women: Listening To Their Voices — free screenings and discussion in Sheffield

by Events Editor 13 June 2015
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A series of documentary screenings and discussions on the subject of Comfort Women, spread over Friday evening and Saturday. Director Byun Young-joo will be present to discuss her work – the first two documentaries of her 낮은 목소리 trilogy will be screening. Director Kim Dong-won will also be present. Korean Cinema Stories: Comfort Women — […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 9: Yeongsanjae and Seodaemun

by Philip Gowman 6 June 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Saturday 6 June Bongwonsa temple and the Yeongsanjae rituals Today is the second UNESCO-listed item of intangible cultural heritage of my brief stay. I am tagging along with a small group of American summer students who are getting course credits by having a whale of a time in Seoul. How this works from an […]

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Edinburgh Fringe visit: two Korean monodramas and one Korean American

by Philip Gowman 18 August 2014
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Korean acts coming to the Fringe have often majored on the non-verbal: percussion, taekwondo, comedy, physical theatre, music and dance. Last year, with Othello – Two Men, we discovered that more traditional theatre, heavy on text, can work well despite the language barrier – provided surtitles are visible. This year the Korean contingent was bolder […]

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Kim Young-ha: Black Flower – an imaginative re-telling of a fascinating byway of Korean history

by Philip Gowman 13 March 2013
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Kim Young-ha: Black Flower Originally published in Korean in 2003 This edition Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012, 305pp, Translated by Charles La Shure Black Flower tells the fascinating story of a thousand or so Korean emigrants who sailed from Jemulpo (now Incheon) in 1905 in search of jobs in Mexico, and ended up founding a short-lived […]

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Happy 150th Birthday, James Scarth Gale

by Philip Gowman 19 February 2013
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James Scarth Gale – missionary, translator, and one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch – was born 150 years ago on 19 February 1863. His birthday has been marked by an upgraded Wikipedia page, a special page with photos on Brother Anthony’s site, and a memorial service at Yeondong Church (which […]

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