Skip to content

Category Archives: Korea Blog

Korea Blog: the Korean literary crime wave, part three

Watching a lecture from Sebashi, the Korean equivalent of TED Talks, I heard the speaker mention a previous speaking engagement he’d had in an unusual venue: a women’s prison. Most all of the inmates, he said, had been locked up for financial malfeasance of one kind or another. This mildly surprised me, despite the well-documented lack […]

Korea Blog: the Korean literary crime wave, part two

Whatever its country of origin, crime fiction prizes murderers. Even more suited to the demands of the genre are serial killers, murderers who — according to most of the definitions available — kill three or more people on two or more separate occasions. Though the protagonists of both Jeong You-jeong’s The Good Son and Kim Un-su’s The Plotters do meet […]

Korea Blog: the Korean literary crime wave, part one

Americans in general don’t emigrate at particularly high rates, but some Americans in particular are given to declaring, in moments of frustration, their imminent move to another country. Often that country is Canada, possibly because of the vague impressions it inspires of a more humane and orderly civilization (and more probably due to linguistic and […]

Korea Blog: the Uncommonly Speculative Fiction of Kim Bo Young’s On the Origin of Species

“Speculative fiction” is in some quarters used as little more than a euphemistic label for science fiction, by readers hoping to preempt association with a stigmatized genre. But interpreted literally, the term covers a vast imaginative field encompassing horror stories, fantasy sagas, alternate history, and much else besides. Many writers specialize in one or two […]

Korea Blog: the Techno-Mythological Imagination of Kim Bo-young’s I’m Waiting for You

South Korea has one of the first populations who can claim to have collectively traveled through time. In a trivial sense, of course, we all travel through time, forward at a rate of one hour per hour, one day per day, one year per year. But this country, as no introduction fails to mention, underwent […]

Korea Blog: K-Pop Evolution Traces the Origins of Korea’s Prime Cultural Export

Certain Western observers of Korea wear their aversion to K-pop, or at least their pointed disinterest in it, as a badge of honor. From them I’ve heard the rise of K-pop credited with destroying Korean culture, or — somewhat more positively — with turning the Korean mainstream bland enough to give rise to a counterculture […]

Korea Blog: Kim Ki-young’s The Insect Woman (1972), Featuring the Grandma from Minari as a Grindhouse Femme Fatale

Now that K-pop, K-drama, and K-beauty have been international phenomena for years, Westerners must prepare themselves for the reign of the K-grandma. I’ve heard that label, or rather its more Korean form K-halmeoni, applied to Youn Yuh-jung, a veteran actress famous here in Korea since the 1970s. Much more recently she’s become a star in the […]

Korea Blog: Youjeong Oh’s Pop City Reveals How K-Pop and K-Drama Have Transformed their Homeland

If you read the Korea Blog regularly, you more than likely have an interest in Korea. And though it’s far from guaranteed, you may well also be a Westerner of one kind or another. If both of these conditions hold true for you, then the odds say — albeit with plenty of room for exception […]

Korea Blog: the First Korean “Comfort Woman” Novel, Kim Soom’s One Left

When a 92-year-old woman by the name of Lee died at last year, all of South Korea took notice. Her passing reduced to eighteen the official count of surviving Korean “comfort women,” who as girls were kept in sexual servitude to the Japanese military during the Second World War. Six months later, University of Washington […]

Korea Blog: Indie Synth-Electro-K-Pop Queen Neon Bunny’s Journey from Seoul to the Stars

From time to time since the 1960s, South Korea and North Korea have blared propaganda at one another through hulking stacks of loudspeakers aimed into the Demilitarized Zone. These border blasters came down in 2018, during a period of thaw in North-South relations, but in the years leading up to that point the mutual sonic provocation had become […]