Category Archives: The Korea Blog

Dispatches on the literature, cinema, current events, and daily life of Korea from the LARB’s man in Seoul Colin Marshall and others.

You can follow Colin Marshall at blog.colinmarshall.org, on Twitter @colinmarshall, or on Facebook @ColinMarshallEssayist.

The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation: After Colonialism and Into Civil War

By Charles Montgomery

During the colonial period, the Japanese invaders determined what would and would not happen in Korean literature, but liberation freed Korean to choose its own path. At the same time, for a strongly national literature, colonial history and the traumatic events that it contained left a strong impact on the culture that would reverberate through the years. Worse, further tragic events would follow, and they, too, would leave their footprints on Korean literature. Continue reading

The Korean President’s Artist Blacklist, Product of an Insecure State

By Colin Marshall

The notion of an artist blacklist evokes the ugliest chapters of the Cold War more than the practices of a developed 21st–century democracy, but South Koreans have recently had to come to terms with the fact that, for nearly the past four years, they’ve lived under a state that has seen fit to maintain one. Or at least they’ve lived under a president who felt she couldn’t do without one, and now that she faces impeachment, the names of over 9,000 people her administration has secretly denied official support have come out. They include Han Kang, author of the Man Booker International Prize-winning The Vegetarian, popular filmmaker Park Chan-wook (whose crowdsourced collaboration with his brother Bitter, Sweet, Seoul we featured on the Korea Blog last year), and poet Ko Un, South Korea’s best-placed contender for the Nobel. Continue reading

Where to Start Reading Translated Korean Literature

By Charles Montgomery

Because I write a website on Korean literature in translation, people often email me with questions (often questions I am completely unqualified to answer!), far and away most often asking, “I’m interested in Korean literature. What book should I read?” This that would have been hard enough to answer 20 years ago, when the broad outline of Korean fiction was much simpler, and has become nearly impossible question to answer today. Continue reading

The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation: Literature as Japanese Colonialism Fell

By Charles Montgomery

The LARB Korea Blog is currently featuring selections from The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation, Charles Montgomery’s book-in-progress that attempts to provide a concise history, and understanding, of Korean literature as represented in translation. You can find links to previous selections at the end of the post. Continue reading

Blade Runner 2049 and Los Angeles’ Korean Future

By Colin Marshall

“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 Blade Runner premiered almost three and a half decades ago, that date must have felt comfortably distant. Now, a week before the year 2017 begins, Los Angeles may have got on track to become a densely built metropolis with high-rise-lined streets filled night and day with activity (and not just of the vehicular kind) later than Ridley Scott and company imagined, but the transformation looks well underway nevertheless. Continue reading

The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation: Literature Under the Japanese Occupation

By Charles Montgomery

The LARB Korea Blog is currently featuring selections from The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation, Charles Montgomery’s book-in-progress that attempts to provide a concise history, and understanding, of Korean literature as represented in translation. You can find links to previous selections at the end of the post. Continue reading

Plastic Surgery, Pressure to Succeed, and Presidential Turmoil: Selections from the LARB Korea Blog’s First Year

By Colin Marshall

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 brought up to a million citizens downtown to demand the resignation of President Park Geun-hye, the announcement of whose impeachment came just this past Friday. I’ll certainly be sticking around to see what happens next. Continue reading

Enlightenment Fiction and the Birth of the “Modern” Korean Novel

By Charles Montgomery

The BLARB Korea Blog is currently featuring selections from The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation, Charles Montgomery’s book-in-progress that attempts to provide a concise history and understanding of Korean literature as represented in translation. You can find links to previous selections at the end of the post. Continue reading

Travel Is Living: How Airbnb Ingeniously Markets to Korea

By Colin Marshall

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 historic/sociological insight into the destination being essayed about, just a lot of ‘Ooh this café was so pretty and its espresso so delicious. Ooh here’s another pretty café and its hot chocolate was so sweet.’” A tough assessment, but in its way a fair one: I come across dozens of (admittedly always well-designed) volumes that more or less fit that description whenever I browse the filled-to-bursting travel shelves at any of the bookstores here in Seoul. Continue reading