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Category Archives: Korea

Korea Blog: Korea’s New Comfort-Woman Comedy “I Can Speak”

Over the past few months, a publicity blitz of the caliber usually reserved for Hollywood superhero spectacles has urged Koreans to see a I Can Speak (아이 캔 스피크), a movie about a straight-laced young civil servant who reluctantly gives English lessons to an old battleaxe. Or at least that’s how it looked at first: as more […]

NPR Music: BTS breaks onto the Billboard charts

Making it to the top of the Korean pop music charts demands no small amount of blood, tears, and sweat — and even more to break beyond it. Few current groups know it as well as the boys of BTS, the young septet who this week became the highest-ranked K-pop act ever on the Billboard 200 chart, […]

Korea Blog: Korea’s Dilbert-Era Loanwords

Lulled into a false sense of security by the simplicity of its alphabet, those students of the Korean language who don’t give up in frustration will sooner or later find themselves facing a variety of unexpected challenges of communication and comprehension. Nearly a decade after learning that deceptively easy writing system, I still often get […]

Times Literary Supplement: Michael Breen’s “The Koreans” and “The New Koreans”

The Korean word for South Korea is hanguk, but South Koreans more often refer to it as uri nara, “our country”. The equivalent term in Japanese is mainly used by octogenarian ultraconservatives, but in South Korea everyone says it. They also speak of uri mal, uri eumshik, uri ddang, uri minjok – “our language”, “our […]

콜인의 한국 이야기: 한국과 일본

작년에 나는 한국에 살면서 일본에 다섯 번 여행을 갔고 거기에 도착할 때마다 일본에 있는 것에 대하여 기뻐했다. 다른 서양인들이 가끔 나에게 한국과 일본이 기본적으로 똑같지 않냐고 물어봐서 나는 그렇지 않다고 대답한다. 미국인이나 유럽인의 시각에서 보면 같은 아시아에 있는 한국과 일본이 비슷해 보일 수도 있지만 서로 비교하면 비슷한점들이 거의 없고 공통점도 거의 없다. 한국에 살고 싶었던 […]

Los Angeles Review of Books Podcast: Bae Suah and Cheon Myeong-kwan

Colin Marshall talks with two of South Korea’s best-known novelists, Bae Suah and Cheon Myeong-kwan, as they visit Los Angeles on a trip with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. Bae’s Nowhere to Be Found and Cheon’s Modern Family have both recently appeared in English translations. Colin also speaks with the Translation Institute’s president, Kim […]

Diary: Blue Bottle Coffee

For a couple years now, I’ve met my Korean speaking partner Mi-young once a week at a coffee shop. During the first few months we always met at the Tom N Toms just up the street from me, but you can only hear their corporate-issue music loop so many times before it becomes a problem. Besides, life’s too […]

Diary: Watching Café Noir (카페 느와르), Marriage Story (결혼 이야기), and the Cinema of Seoul

We hit up a favorite Korean barbecue spot with my cinephile friend Michael, who recently came to Koreatown after five years spent in actual Korea. Naturally, the conversation turned to Korean films we both knew, and big names from the Korean cinema boom of the early 2000s came up: Joint Security Area (110 minutes), Memories of Murder (127 minutes), Oldboy (120 […]

Diary: Luminaries of Korean literature come to town

I had the chance last week to interview Bae Suah and Cheon Myeong-kwan, two well-known Korean writers, when they came to Los Angeles under the auspices of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea to make an appearance at UCLA. Not one to miss a podcasting opportunity, I packed up my recorder and rode over to where they […]

The History of Cities in 50 Buildings: The Sampoong Department Store

Observers tend to describe the rise of South Korea as a miracle, and the actual story makes the word seem only a minor exaggeration. Having emerged an utter wreck from the Korean War in the early 1950s, by the 21st century the country had become a rich, infrastructurally impressive, technologically forward-thinking global economic and cultural […]