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Notebook on Cities and Culture’s Korea Tour: Itaewon Freedom with Stephen Revere

stephenrevere-002Notebook on Cities and Culture‘s Korea Tour is brought to you by Daniel Murphy, David Hayes, and The Polar Intertia Journal, an outlet for artists and researchers documenting the urban condition.

In Seoul’s Itaewon District, Colin talks with Stephen Revere, CEO of 10 Media (producer of Chip’s Maps), co-founder and managing editor of 10 Magazine, author of two Survival Korean books, and for three years the teacher on Arirang television’s Let’s Speak Korean. The Seoul in which he arrived, and which amazed him, in 1995; how quickly he decided to master the Korean language, and the dearth of tools he had back in those days, such as the Korean Through English books; where the Defense Language Institute’s hierarchy of difficulty discouragingly ranks Korean; the frustrations of studying Korean alongside Chinese and Japanese classmates; why students on Let’s Speak Korean had to pretend to speak Korean poorly; his days with the “한외모” speaking group; what he enjoyed most about Korean life that convinced him to learn more and more about it; what got him from subscribing to 3-2-1 Contact as a kid to starting 10 Magazine as an adult; what a foreigner should know to make best use of a city like Seoul, or a country like Korea; what remains “hidden” about Korea in this era of the “Korean wave”; why so many Koreans dismiss their hometowns, if they don’t come from Seoul; what he does when he heads out in to the provinces; the “massive” generational difference between older and younger Koreans; what his life in Korea has taught him about America; what positive aspect of Korea it reflects that you can easily get into shouting matches there; how the size of your vehicle determines your right-of-way on the roads of Seoul; the unique role Itaewon, home of 10 Magazine headquarters as well as “Hooker Hill”, “Homo Hill”, and a mosque, plays in Seoul, and why it inspires a song like “Itaewon Freedom“; whether more Korean teaching lies in his future; when he knew he would’t be going back to America; when he realized he’d attained fluency in Korea, and what it means to be fluent anyway; why you’ve got to join the group for eating in Korea (and possibly turn ex-vegetarian because of that); why the markets provide the purest experience of the culture; and whether he still  considers mastering another language.

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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