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Category Archives: Korea Blog

Los Angeles Review of Books: 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: Talk Like a Busanian

Foreigners living in Seoul seldom travel around the rest of the country as much as they’d like to, and Koreans living in Seoul seem to do it even less. Hence the popularity of a television program like Travelogue Korea (한국기행), which brings the remote island and mountain villages to Seoulites rather than the other way around. Part […]

Korea Blog: Short Skirts, Flying Chopsticks, and the “Worst” Korea Essay, Ten Years Later

In the summer of 2008, the New York Times ran “Urban Seoul,” a piece of about 800 words on life as an American expatriate in Korea. Its author, a writer in his mid-30s named Gabe Hudson, had arrived here the previous year to take professorship at at Yonsei University, becoming the founding chair of the creative writing program at […]

Korea Blog: A Traveler’s Video of Seoul Astonishes, while Official Promotion of Korea Embarrasses

A video that recently hit the internet may well turn out to be the year’s most effective piece of Korea-promotion — if not the decade’s most effective — and Korea’s official promoters had nothing at all to do with it. Titled “seoul_wave,” the seven-minute production presents a day in the life of Korea’s capital as hyperkinetically shot […]

Korea Blog: What Jonathan Gold Understood About Korea

Even after I left Los Angeles for Seoul, I kept reading Jonathan Gold. Few who appreciate Los Angeles, no matter where in the world they live, could ignore what his restaurant reviews said about the city as a whole. On my last visit there earlier this year, I got into a conversation with a couple […]

Korea Blog: The Secret Koreanness of Sticky Monster Lab

Despite my long-standing interest in things Korean, I’ve gone in for very few of the “Korean wave” of cultural products that have reportedly swept the globe — or at least much of Asia and a bit of the West— over the past 15 years. Most of them never seemed targeted toward me in the first […]

Korea Blog: Could Seoul Be the Next Great Cyberpunk City?

Since the original Blade Runner takes place in an imagined late-2010s Los Angeles, I’d have gotten a kick out of seeing its sequel, which after prolonged speculation finally came out late last year, in the actual late-2010s Los Angeles. But having moved to Korea a few years ago, I settled for a screening here in Seoul. In […]

Korea Blog: How Anthony Bourdain Revealed Korea — and Los Angeles’s Koreatown

“Anthony Bourdain.” “Anthony Bourdain Osaka Bar.” “Anthony Bourdain Osaka Hanshin Tigers Bar.” “アンソニーボーディン大阪阪神タイガース居酒屋.” I Googled all these search terms, and no small number of variations on them, one afternoon in a coffee shop at Gimpo International Airport. Soon to catch a flight to Osaka, my favorite city in Japan, I’d just found out that Toracy, my […]

Korea Blog: The Essential Korean Fashion Accessory of 2018, a London Review of Books Tote Bag

Though I’ve lived in Korea only a few years, I sometimes fear I’ve already lost sight of the culture around me. When visiting foreign friends bring up sights that strike them as notable or even shocking, I increasingly have to admit that they no longer even register in my consciousness. Though I headed off the […]