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This weekend (25th April ~27th April) saw me grabbing a bite of a Korean burrito at the Corbet Place bar & lounge in London. It was a special 3 day event run by Joo Lee founder of Korrito, a Korean BBQ food stall. As well as having her food stall set up outside the bar, she took the opportunity to show her three part documentary exploring the past present and the future of Korean cuisine inside the bar. (The bar was serving Korean cocktails and I had a soju mixed with pomegranate, aloe vera, lime and mint which was surprisingly nice!!)
The documentary takes you through Joo’s personal journey and what food means to her, although born in Korea, she moved to the UK when she was three. She found food as a way of staying connected with her homeland. She seeks views from celebrity chefs and food writers about global perspectives on Korean food and journeys to her homeland to discover what makes Korean food so unique. She visits the 100 year old Gwangjang Market in Seoul and discusses adapting tastes to suit different cultural palettes. After hungrily watching the mini documentary, I was glad to be able to stuff my face with an interesting mix of Korean Mexican food – the chicken burrito with Kimchi fried rice at the Korrito food stall. It was delicious and because I was unable to take a selfie of me enjoying the burrito, you will have to make do with this quick sketch I produced! Clearly in the second panel, you can see me chewing my buldak chicken burrito which I hold in one hand whilst stretching my other for some apparent reason!
Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything
Based on a quote by Plato
I was asked by a friend what Korean literature was after telling her I was due to attend a book club later that evening at the Korean Cultural Centre. I paused, I was unable to give a specific answer. How can I define Korean literature when the body of work ranges from all types of writing. Korean literature cannot be defined by a single genre nor should it conjure a single image in the mind. It is diverse in its characteristics and has a potted history. Some say that Korean literature emerged after Japanese colonization, others say that the literature has always been in the nation, but it had been written in Hanja (Chinese characters). Hangul was invented by King Sejong in 1443 as the Korean language was never suited to be expressed in Chinese letters. However it took scholars and civil servants at least four hundred years after its invention to fully accept and use it as a language with which to write in. So where does Korean literature begin? Works only written in Hangul? During colonisation by the Japanese (1910-1945) Korea’s identity was being wiped out by Japan, with Japanese as the national language and Japanese history being taught in the schools. Would works being written after this period be considered the start of the literature?
Whatever the correct definition, as its debatable, I have read very little of the existing translated works into English. With the London Book Fair around the corner, I was excited to expand my knowledge in this area and understand what more what was being done to engage the UK market with the works this nation had to offer.
I own 16 books of translated Korean literature, with 3 of them purchased during the London Book Fair (8th April – 10th April) and have read 11 of these (see list below – I will give a review on all of these shortly) However I would not say I am an expert, but post book fair I definitely feel I have a lot of reading to do.
Korean Literature – I have read (to-date)
1) Twisted Hero – by Yi Munyol
2) Who ate up all the shinga – Park Wan-Suh
3) There a petal silently falls – Ch’oe Yun
4) Three days in that autumn – Pak Wanseo
5) Human Decency – Gong Ji Young,
6) A Dwarf launches a little Ball – Cho Se-Hui
7) The Hen who dreamed she could fly – Hwang Sun-Mi
8) Please look after mother – Shin Kyoung-Sook
9) Your Republic is calling you – Kim Young-Ha
10) Three Generations – Yom Sang-Seop
11) Seopyeonje: The Southerners’ Songs by Yi Chung-Jun
She said banana, I said pineapple… I wasn’t sure whether to stand or crouch down next to her…all in all it produced some interesting photographic results…
What I enjoyed most from the three days is having learnt the existence of this unusual word.
There are phones, there are tablets and then there are phablets..
The London Book Fair announces Sun-Mi Hwang as Market Focus Author of the Day.
As author of the day, Sun-Mi was presented with a personalized fountain pen from Montegrappe (Italian pen manufacturer) with her name on it. She was so taken aback and so touched as you can see from these photos below. As the box was being unwrapped in front of her, she admired the design on the box and said it was beautiful. She wiped away the tears in her eyes. It was such a touching and humbling sight to behold. They also gave her another pen with which to sign autographs.