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Category Archives: North Korea

Korea Blog: A Python in Pyongyang (and Well Beyond)

A few weeks ago I watched Monty Python’s Michael Palin toss an inflatable globe to a classroom full of North Korean schoolchildren. The sight took my mind back across the Pacific Ocean and more than a quarter-century in time, from my current home in Seoul to the childhood home in California where I first saw […]

Korea Blog: The Colors of Pyongyang, Seoul’s Shadow Self

Much of South Korea had some or all of last week off work, owing to the chuseokfall harvest festival. Westerners in Seoul take the opportunity to enjoy a quieter version of the city while Koreans take the opportunity (or if you prefer, adhere to the obligation) to spend the holiday in their family’s provincial hometown. Westerners […]

Korea Blog: On Not Being Interested in North Korea

I once asked a former foreign correspondent in South Korea what he wrote about. “North Korea, North Korea, North Korea, and North Korea,” he said. “Oh, and some North Korea as well.” But he’d done that work, for the Economist, something like a decade ago, when the Korea he actually lived in commanded much less international […]

Korea Blog: When Chris Marker Freely Photographed, and Briefly Fell in Love with, North Korea

Even though I live there, I still only with difficulty perceive Northeast Asia through any lens not borrowed from Chris Marker. This owes mostly to the influence of dozens of viewings of Sans Soleil, his 1983 fact-and-fiction cinematic travelogue through places like Iceland, Cape Verde, San Francisco, and especially Japan, a feature-length realization of the […]

Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E37: Closed Worlds with Mark Edward Harris

Colin Marshall sits down in Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile district with photographer Mark Edward Harris, author of such books as Inside North Korea, Inside Iran, The Art of the Japanese Bath, and Faces of the Twentieth Century. They discuss filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s introduction to his Iran book, and his rule about always excluding people from his own photographs; the importance […]

Notebook on Cities and Culture S3E8: Pyongyang Style with Rob Montz

Colin Marshall sits down in Los Angeles’ Koreatown with filmmaker Rob Montz, director of Juche Strong, a short documentary about North Korea and its propaganda. They discuss reaching the same age as Kim Jong-un without a hermit kingdom to rule; the question of why North Koreans continue to believe in their state, despite having good […]