You’ve seen the film, now read the book

The Korean Film Council recently publicised on its website the new “Book to Film” initiative aimed at bringing together the film and the publishing industries. Of course, the practice adapting a book for the big screen is almost as old as the movie industry itself, and some of South Korea’s most successful movies have been […]

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 […]

Book review: Richard E Kim — The Martyred

Richard E. Kim: The Martyred First published by George Braziller, 1964 Published in Penguin Classics 2011, with introduction by Heinz Insu Fenzl and Preface by Susan Choi. 199 pp Fourteen North Korean priests are rounded up by the communists just before North Korea invades the South in June 1950. Twelve of the priests are shot, […]

Festival Film Review: Leafie, a Hen into the Wild

At last year’s LKFF the surprise success was the animation Green Days – which for me was the first Korean animation really to stand comparison with Japan’s Studio Ghibli. This year the story may well be the same, with another animation from a director making his first full-length feature. In a country where animation screenings […]

Book Review: Hwang Sok-yong – The Old Garden

Hwang Sok-yong: The Old Garden / The Ancient Garden Originally published in 2000 English translation by Jay Oh, Seven Stories Press 2009 / Picador 2010. “More has been expected of Hwang Sok-yong than almost any other Korean writer of the past quarter century,” says Bruce Fulton1. Having read The Guest (2002), and having watched and […]

1970s: the missing decade in Korean film?

Newcomers to Korean film can sometimes get the impression that Korean cinema started with Shiri. Indeed, one contributor to the recent Korean Film Blogathon claimed “Korea’s cinema was virtually non-existing until the new millennium”. Not a sentiment with which I strongly agree. While the last decade has certainly seen more than its fair share of […]

White Badge: Korea and the Vietnamese War

In a year that we remember the 60th anniversary of the first post-WW2 US military involvement in Asia, it was a great idea to invite Director Jeong Ji-yeong (정지영) to the UK. Jeong is known for a number of well-received films, including Nambugun, a film which gives a nuanced view of the Korean War from […]

Book review: Hwang Sun-won – The Descendants of Cain

Hwang Sun-won: The Descendants of Cain Translated by Suh Ji-moon and Julie Pickering East Gate / UNESCO, 1997. Originally published 1954 Novels set in post-liberation Korea, or during the Korean war, often make uncomfortable reading, particularly those set in the Soviet sphere of influence, and where the story is set in the countryside. The historical […]

Petal essay contest Salon des Refusés 3

Peter Corbishley offers his entry into the “There a Petal Silently Falls” essay competition. A Korean novella – a human tragedy It is unnerving to have images from a half-recollected film1 play through a reading of There a Petal Silently Falls.2 Yet that sense of disorientation evocatively models how the girl’s bewildered spirit-awareness3 interweaves, recalls […]

Petal essay contest Salon des Refusés 2

The LKL Editor contributes his own unsuccessful entry into the “There a Petal Silently Falls” essay contest. Ghosts of Kwangju Ch’oe Yun’s There a petal silently falls is an interesting choice for a first Korean literature essay contest. Elusive in content, obscure in characterisation and insubstantial in length, it encourages a discussion not about the […]

Petal essay contest Salon des Refusés 1

Earlier this year the Korean Literature Translation Institute sponsored an essay competition based on Ch’oe Yun’s There a Petal Silently Falls. Now that the finalists have been announced, Michael Rank is the first to offer his submission for publication on the pages of LKL. The Kwangju (Gwangju) massacre of 1980 has been called the most […]

Book review: Kim Sung-dong — Mandala

Kim Sung-dong: Mandala Translated by Ahn Jung-hyo Dongsu Munhaksa, 1990 A novel about the search for truth, and about the nature of corruption in religion. When Pobun takes his priestly vows, he undertakes not to kill, steal, have sex, lie, drink, wear ornaments, sing or dance, sleep in a comfortable bed, possess gold, or eat […]