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Category Archives: Korea Blog

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 […]

Korea Blog: Haruki Murakami Has More Books in Korean than He Ever Will in English

Whenever someone has made progress studying a foreign language and asks which author they should try reading in that language, I always recommend the same one: Haruki Murakami. Though perhaps an obvious choice for students of Japanese, his mother tongue and the language in which he writes, his work has now made it into about […]

Korea Blog: How “Seopyeonje” Went from Tradition-Fueled Passion Project to Art-House Megahit

One singer and one drummer on an otherwise nearly bare stage, expressing the pain of Korea for four or five hours: the prospect, to a great many foreigners, does not immediately appeal. Then again, despite its deep roots in the culture, the traditional form of musical storytelling called pansori (판소리) didn’t much appeal to a […]

Korea Blog: Blade Runner 2049 and Los Angeles’ Korean Future

“LOS ANGELES NOVEMBER, 2019.” So, with that stark title card, begins the film that presented the most fully realized vision of the city’s future in cinema history to that point — and maybe still to this day. It also fixed its setting in the Western imagination as the go-to image of urban dystopia, though when […]

Korea Blog: Twelve Selections from the First Year

I started writing the Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog on December 4th of last year, just three weeks after moving to Seoul from Los Angeles. One of my first posts covered a protest in Seoul Square; once of the most recent covered a series of demonstrations over the course of weeks that eventually […]

Korea Blog: How Airbnb’s Travel Book Ingeniously Markets to Korea

Stuff Koreans Like, a short-lived imitator of the mid-2000s satirical blog Stuff White People Like, only took ten posts to get to travel essay books. “Usually set in foreign cities (mostly New York or Paris),” writes its author, “they feature soft-focus photographs of café facades and interiors, coupled with inane text with no depth or […]

Korea Blog: Anti-Trump Protests, Anti-Park Protests, and the Koreanization of American Politics

Since the election of Donald Trump last Tuesday, protesters across the United States, thousands of them in downtown Los Angeles alone, have taken to the streets to make their displeasure heard. Coincidentally, anti-presidential protests have also erupted in South Korea own over the past few weeks, culminating in the unrelieved crush of humanity, comprising 500,000 […]

Korea Blog: Finding a New Seoul in the Old Buldings of Kim Swoo-Geun, Architect of Modern Korea

Like many a Westerner with an interest in Korea (and without any stake in the relevant historical conflicts), I’ve also cultivated a parallel interest in Japan, and I find few things Japanese as interesting as I find Japanese architecture. Who, I began to wonder as I learned more about the architecture of Japan and the […]

Korea Blog: Kevin M. Maher’s English-Teaching Expat Novel “No Couches in Korea”

Korea has inspired several volumes of English-language travel writing, even narratives of extended sojourn in or repeat visits to the country over long periods of time, but a full-fledged, high-profile memoir or novel of the expatriate-in-Korea experience has yet to materialize. Kevin M. Maher’s No Couches in Korea, which recounts the experiences of a young […]

Korea Blog: Watching Korea Develop Through Sixty Years of Commercials

Not long after I moved to Korea, an American expat of decades’ standing described the country to me as approaching the end of its “long 1950s.” He meant, I think, that all the qualities we rightly or wrongly associate with America in the 1950s — family solidity, lifetime employment at large companies, robust economic growth, […]