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Category Archives: Korea

New Yorker: the door opened by “Gangnam Style”

The capital of South Korea makes a good first impression, not least with its infrastructure. This May, Seoul’s ever-expanding subway system opened another addition, an extension of the Shinbundang Line that connects four existing stations. The northernmost, Sinsa, lies in an area popularly associated with South Korea’s world-renowned cosmetic-surgery industry. (In search of coffee there […]

Korea Blog: Routledge’s New Handbook of Contemporary South Korea

I began living in and writing about Korea, an endeavor in which I’ve now been engaged for years, with practically no academic preparation. After graduating university, I audited a few lectures on Korean popular culture, then tried to take community-college Korean 101, which ended up cancelled for lack of enrollment. Later, after moving to Los […]

Times Literary Supplement: Michael Booth, “Three Tigers, One Mountain”

Were does Europe end and Asia begin? “If someone can pose as an expert on the country in question without knowledge of the relevant language, it’s part of Asia”, the American North Korea analyst Brian Reynolds Myers once quipped. Michael Booth doesn’t pose as an authority on the Koreas, or on the other countries in Three […]

Korea Blog: Our Language Battle, Korea’s Surprisingly Addictive Game Show of Vocabulary, Expressions, and Proper Spacing

If you want to understand a society, watch its game shows. The principle behind that advice has come to light with the advent of such entertainment sources as the Game Show Network, on which Americans can catch clear, sometimes too-clear views of the foreign societies that are Americas of decades past. You don’t stay tuned […]

A Wrap-Up: Seoul Urbanism on TBS eFM’s Koreascape

Each month for the past two years I’ve joined Kurt Achin, host of Koreascape on Seoul’s English-language radio station TBS eFM, for an exploration of one of Seoul’s urban spaces. With the end of Koreascape this month comes the end of the Seoul urbanism segment, and so we look back at all we’ve covered over the past two years. […]

Sewoon Sangga, the 1960s Megastructure Reborn: Seoul Urbanism on TBS eFM’s Koreascape

Each month I join Kurt Achin, host of Koreascape on Seoul’s English-language radio station TBS eFM, for an exploration of one of Seoul’s urban spaces. This month we explore Sewoon Sangga, the concrete megastructure that has survived half a century of change in Seoul and is now the subject of a revitalization effort like no other. Originally commissioned by Seoul mayor […]

Guardian Cities: Gangneung in the Spotlight

The 2018 Winter Olympics will soon open in Pyeongchang, South Korea – which has taken pains, of varying effectiveness, to prevent the world from confusing it with Pyongyang, North Korea. But the games won’t be limited to the tiny mountain town of Pyeongchang itself; with a comparatively enormous population of 213,658, the nearby coastal city of Gangneung […]

Korea Blog: Yoo Jae-ha’s “Because I Love You,” 30 Years After His Untimely Death

Thirty years ago this month, a Korean singer-songwriter by the name of Yoo Jae-ha died at the age of 25. Had the car accident that killed him happened a few months earlier, before he released his first and only album Because I Love You, Korean pop music, now better known as “K-pop,” might have taken a […]

Seoul Urbanism on TBS eFM’s Koreascape: Seoul’s development seen through TV commercials

Each month I join Kurt Achin, host of Koreascape on Seoul’s English-language radio station TBS eFM, for an exploration of one of Seoul’s urban spaces. This time, building on a piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog, we talk about the development of Seoul as you can see it over sixty years of television […]

Korea Blog: Korea’s 1990s sitcom about life in Los Angeles, “LA Arirang”

Not long after I started studying Korean, I signed up for a Japanese class, Japanese being the closest language I could find classes for in Santa Barbara at that time, in hopes of meeting a Korean international student with whom to practice the one I really wanted to learn. I soon did, and he invited […]