Former Monty Python’s star Michael Palin aims with North Korean Journal to do for Pyongyang what The Life of Brian did for the New Testament. He almost succeeds.
The great Swiss travel writer Nicolas Bouvier began his career in 1963 with L’Usage du Monde, an account of a journey from Geneva to the Khyber Pass. Published in English as The Way of the World, the book earned him cult status amongst travel-writing aficionados, its distinctive sensibility and supremely elegant prose elevating it well above the myriad other 20th-century travel books featuring well-heeled young Europeans traversing sections of the old Silk Road.
In Reencounters, Crystal Mun-hye Baik examines what it means to live with and remember an ongoing war when its manifestations—hypervisible and deeply sensed—become everyday formations delinked from militarization. Contemplating beyond notions of inherited trauma and postmemory, Baik offers the concept of reencounters to better track the Korean War’s illegible entanglements through an interdisciplinary archive of diasporic memory works that includes oral history projects, performances, and video installations rarely examined by Asian American studies scholars.
Author and memoirist Fatima Bhutto’s slender but potent volume for Columbia Global Reports (an imprint from Columbia University devoted to long-form journalism), surveys a shift in global popular culture in which America’s soft-power dominance is facing challenges from local art forms.
Seoul 1954. The Korean War armistice has been signed less than a year ago. Millions are dead and a shattered country struggles to rise from the rubble. There is little food and even less hope. Seoul teems with ghosts.
These aren’t bedtime stories. Indeed, reading them before bed might not be a good idea at all.
When Travis Jeppesen, 37-year-old writer and art critic, spotted the ad offering a one-month study program in North Korea, he didn’t hesitate. Not that he was any wide-eyed naif: he’d visited four times before. But he was done with package tours, with being shuttled from monument to tedious monument. If he were to return to the DPRK (the country’s official name, i.e. the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”), it would have to be for a different sort of trip.