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Category Archives: Uncategorized

Korea Blog: Listen to the Seoul of the 1980s, Real or Imagined, with Streaming Mixes of Korean “City Pop”

Japanese names like Katomatsu Toshiki, Ohnuki Taeko, Yamashita Tatsuro, or Takeuchi Mariya may or may not mean anything to you. Rest assured, however, that there are Korean record collectors to whom they mean a great deal indeed. I see more than a few of them in person whenever Gimbab Records, a shop not far from where […]

Korea Blog: Fried Chicken’s Central Role in a TV Drama, a Police Comedy, and Korean Culture Itself

“Did you come because of the movie?” said a middle-aged man waiting a few places in front of me in line for fried chicken. He didn’t ask me, but a nearby family of four or five, and they had indeed come because of the movie, as had I. That movie, Lee Byeong-heon’s Extreme Job (극한직업), racked up […]

My Interview on the Blunt Report Podcast: Korean Desires, Happiness, and a Frog in a Well

A few months ago, Konner Blunt came to Korea to record a few episodes of his interview podcast The Blunt Report, which “exists today to create interest and intrigue in the world around us.” You might remember me doing something similar with Notebook on Cities and Culture‘s Korea Tour, and now that I live in Korea myself, I seem to have […]

Korea Blog: Luc Besson’s “Léon: The Professional,” a Cultural Phenomenon Going Strong in Korea for 25 Years

Léon: The Professional, the film that launched director Luc Besson into an international renown, came out a quarter-century ago this year. And in this case, “international renown” means he became known outside his native France not just in America but all over the world, and especially here in South Korea. Or rather, Besson the filmmaker […]

Korea Blog: Reading Tocqueville in Korea (Part Two)

Alexis de Tocqueville made his transatlantic journey in 1831 in order to discover what made America different from other countries, especially his native France and the rest of “Old World” Europe. “On my arrival in the United States, it was the religious atmosphere which first struck me,” he writes in the first volume of Democracy in […]

Talk at San Diego State University: “The Urban Future on Film” (2/14/19)

“Los Angeles is the city of the future,” the old joke goes, “and it always will be.” Certainly that holds true on film, where the southern Californian metropolis has been put to every possible cinematic end. Filmmakers have used Los Angeles to recreate the past, to portray the present, and most memorably to envision the […]

Korea Blog: Reading Tocqueville in Korea (Part One)

“Culture is not necessarily our destiny,” wrote the high-profile Korean activist and later president of South Korea Kim Dae-jung in a 1994 Foreign Affairs piece. “Democracy is.” Kim made that claim as part of an argument against Lee Kuan Yew, three-decade prime minister of Singapore, who took a dim view of transplanting Western political institutions into Asian soil. […]

My ten favorite Open Culture posts of 2018: Malcolm Gladwell in cafés, Éric Rohmer in Paris, David Lynch at Bob’s Big Boy, and more

For nearly seven years now, I’ve written a post every weekday at Open Culture, usually to do with literature, film, music, art, television, radio, or language. The total comes to more than 1800 so far, and here are ten of my favorites from the more than 250 I wrote in 2018: The Case for Writing in […]

My ten favorite Open Culture posts of 2017: Chris Marker’s travel books, Randy Newman’s Los Angeles, J.M. Coetzee’s secret computer poetry, and more

For nearly six years now, I’ve written a post every weekday at Open Culture, usually to do with literature, film, music, art, television, radio, or language. The total comes to more than 1500 so far, and here are ten of my favorites from the more than 250 I wrote in 2017: David Sedaris Breaks Down His […]

Five years at Open Culture

As of today, I’ve been writing for Open Culture on a variety of ever-more-interesting subjects, from wherever in the world I can get wi-fi, every single weekday for five years. My total post count now comes to over 1,300, but here are twenty of my hand-picked favorites to give you a sense of both the […]