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Category Archives: Uncategorized

Books on Cities: Trans-Europe Express: Tours of a Lost Continent (2018)

The publisher of Owen Hatherley’s Trans-Europe Express: Tours of a Lost Continent sent me a copy addressed to “Colin Marshall, Cities Writer.” Though I’ve never worked under that title, I can hardly reject it; then again, it would seem to apply rather better to Hatherley himself, who despite being only three years older than me has published […]

Books on Cities: Christopher Alexander, “A Pattern Language”

When urban theorists speak of “reading” the city, they usually leave the mechanics of the act to the reader’s imagination. In 1977, Christopher Alexander launched himself high into the urbanist canon by taking the opposite approach, creating with his team at Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Structure a set of verbal tools to make legible, discuss, […]

Korea Blog: Six Expatriate Writers Give Six Views of Seoul in a New Short-Fiction Anthology, “A City of Han”

As a cradle of expatriate literature, Seoul has thus far proven to be no Prague, Mexico City, or Tangier, to say nothing of a Vienna or Paris. That’s not for lack of desire among expatriates themselves: every few months here I get word of the existence of another Westerner-oriented writing workshop, or contacted by another […]

Korea Blog: The Explosively Controversial “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” Comes Out in English

The tagline of last year’s cautiously anticipated film Kim Jiyoung: Born 1982 (82년생 김지영) promised to tell “your story and mine.” The picture itself delivers only to the extent that you or I happen to be a Korean woman in early middle age, and even then to the extent that our background aligns with the title character’s. But […]

Korea Blog: In Praise of Pilsa, the Highly Uncreative Korean Method of Learning to Write

Many Western expatriates start feeling their days in Korea are numbered as soon as they become parents. “We’ll have to leave before the kid starts school,” I often hear; the combination of urgency and vagueness reminds me of Los Angeles parents insisting that one “just can’t” send one’s children to whichever local public school their […]

Korea Blog: The Coronavirus Breaks Out in Itaewon, the “Gays-and-Foreigners” Seoul Neighborhood Celebrated in a Hit Netflix Drama

They say you can find anything in Itaewon. To find Itaewon itself, you need only head toward the very center of Seoul, right next to the old United States Army base. To orient yourself within Itaewon, you need only know three landmarks: “Hooker Hill,” “Homo Hill,” and “Halal Hill.” Though unlikely to appear on an […]

Architectural Review: Hyundai Card’s Gapado Project

Within South Korea, you can hardly get further from the capital Seoul than the island of Gapado. The journey requires a 70-minute flight to Jejudo, the country’s largest island, then a trip across it by car or bus to a port on its south coast, and from there a 15-minute ferry ride. The first impression is […]

Korea Blog: Selling Your Body to Seoul in Kim Ho-seon’s “Yeong-ja’s Heydays” (1975)

Watch enough Korean movies from the late 1950s through the 80s, and you start to notice what looks like an obsession with prostitution. Pictures from the end of that period — 1988’s Prostitution (매춘), for instance, which has spawned at least five sequels — tend to make it obvious. Earlier ones deal explicitly with prostitution as a […]

Korea Blog: Everything Turns into ASMR in Korea, Even Cultural Heritage

Last weekend I took my first trip to Korea’s Jeju Island, a vacation spot popular enough to make the air route between it and Seoul the busiest in the world. But I wasn’t going on vacation, nor, strictly speaking, was I going to Jeju: my destination was Gapado, a much smaller island off Jeju’s south […]

Los Angeles Review of Books: The London Review of Books Turns 40

I alway ask serious readers which publications they find reliably interesting, and each year they struggle harder to come up with titles. Those who read print sources usually mention the London Review of Books, and an explanation of what keeps them coming back must, I suspect, begin with its headlines. Here’s Frank Kermode on Martin Amis’s The […]