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Category Archives: Uncategorized

From my interview archive: architecture critics Christopher Hawthorne, Alex Bozikovic, Owen Hatherley, and Jonathan Meades

I’m listening again to selections from the archive of long-form interviews I conducted on the public radio program The Marketplace of Ideas and podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture between 2007 and 2015. In trying to understand a place, I begin with its architecture. This puts rural environments at a disadvantage against urban ones, granted, but as you may have guessed I […]

Korea Blog: A Liberation Day Protest Raises the Question, How Anti-Japanese Is Korea, Really?

Koreans hate Japan. Even those who know precious little else about Korea — that place with the spicy food, all that pop music, and the troublesome neighbor? — know that. But in recent years public expressions of anti-Japanese sentiment have been hard to come by here, at least from the under-80 set. Any outside observer […]

Korea Blog: The Suicides in South Korea, and the Suicide of South Korea

Every journalist covering South Korea must, at one point or another, write about suicide. Not only do a greater percentage of people kill themselves here each year than anywhere else (though Lithuania comes close), the very act of killing oneself can plausibly be tied to other widely lamented conditions in Korean society. A CEO’s suicide might result […]

Open Culture posts on Jorge Luis Borges

Since 2012 I’ve written about all manner of topics at Open Culture, and you can find a selection of some of my favorite posts over the years in the Open Culture section of my essays page. I often write there about writers, and few writers as often as Jorge Luis Borges. Here are all my posts on the […]

Korea Blog: 43 Reasons Everything in Seoul Is Good and Nothing Is Bad (or Something Like That)

Waiting to step off a bus here in Seoul not long ago, I got an idea for not just a tweet but a whole Twitter thread. As usual, I had just tapped the exit-door reader with my transit card — but strictly speaking, it isn’t a transit card of the kind used in Los Angeles […]

Korea Blog: The Making of a Dictator in Anna Fifield’s “The Great Successor”

I first learned of Kim Jong Il at the same time I learned of the country he ruled, and for years thereafter had no image to associate with North Korea but that of the high-living, Hollywood-obsessed Dear Leader with permed hair and platform shoes. This was back in my high school days of the late […]

일기: 데이비드 호크니 회고전

데이비드 호크니는 영국 화가이지만 그의 제일 유명한 그림은 로스앤젤레스 풍경을 묘사한다. 1967년에 그렸던 <더 큰 첨벙>이라는 그 그림은 가장 인상적인 로스앤젤레스를 보여 주는 예술 작품들 중 하나인 것을 부인할 수 없다. 한국에 이사오기 전에 로스앤젤레스에 살았던 나는 <더 큰 첨벙>을 사진이나 동영상에서 본 적이 많지만 그 그림을 직접적으로 볼 수 있게 된 곳은 바로 서울시립미술관이다. […]

Korea Blog: A Harrowing Journey to an Island of Women, and Into Korea’s Psychological Recesses: Kim Ki-young’s “Iodo” (1977)

Every Westerner with an interest in Korea remembers when they first realized just how different Korea is from the rest of Asia. The contrast with Japan and China is especially notable, given that many Westerners at first see those countries as culturally indistinguishable from Korea. But it doesn’t take much observation before distinctive elements start […]

일기: 배수아, <올빼미의 없음>

나는 미국에 살았을 때보다 한국에 살면서 독서 모임들에 훨씬 더 자주 참여한다. 고정관념일 수도 있겠지만 미국에서 열리는 독서 모임의 참여자들은 대부분 다른 할 일이 없는 아줌마일 경우가 많다. 그러나 내 경험에 의하면 한국 독서 모임 참여자들의 대부분은 20대나 30대 여자이지만 남녀노소들도 오는 경향이 있다. 나는 한국어 읽기와 말히기를 연습하려고 나를 빼고 한국인 밖에 없는 한국말로 […]

Korea Blog: With “Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho Comes Back to Attack His Homeland — and Wins it a Palme d’Or

When a Korean wins a major international award, that award tends to be seen here in Korea as having been won for, or even by, the nation itself. Olympic gold medals, if not silver or bronze, have long mattered a great deal. Anticipation for another Nobel has run high since former president Kim Dae-jung’s Peace […]