1939 edition of Selected Poems of Sowŏl

I obtained this beautiful (but also damaged) edition of Kim Sowŏl’s poems from my old mentor. It seems to be the 1939 edition published by Kim Sowol’s mentor Kim Ŏk, 5 years after the tragic death (most likely by his own hand) of Sowŏl. Most famous for his attempts to write poetry connected to the rhythm of Korean folk songs, his signature poem is Azeleas 진달래꽃 reproduced here in English translation.

Female divers from Cheju and George Lazenby

20140527_152350Okay, okay, so this has nothing to do with Northern Korea. It’s a Cheju-do postcard, I know. But just look at those colours. I betcha Instagram would pay a fair amount to produce a filter that can make photos look like that. You know what I see in this picture (except for implausible dressed-up Cheju haenyŏ 해녀 wannabe models)?

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Postcards from Manchukuo

20140527_114618I recently bought these two Japanese postcards, one depicting the most important weapon any army has employed in the quest for the ultimate whooping of the other guys’ ass: corporals (here portrayed as sentinels, but to me it seems they do

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Go East, Young Man or: Manchuria, Land Of Opportunities (1922)

20140518_230946If I had been a young man in the 1920s and had gotten hold of Manchuria, Land Of Opportunities (1922), I just might have bought myself a one-way ticket on a slow boat to Manchuria. In terms of opportunities, in particular investment opportunities, it doesn’t come much better than as described in painstaking detail in this book. Did you know for example that in 1920 1,955,464 gallons of lubricating oil were imported into Manchuria? Don’t ask me why. No, don’t. And that in the same year 52,508,400 pounds of perilla leaves were exported from Manchuria?

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Virgin Terrorist Mayumi’s Apocalypse (1990)

No, this is not a4571 porn movie. It is as bad as a porn movie, though. Worse actually, because it trades the hanky panky for government rhetoric. It’s propaganda porno. It’s essentially what legendary director Shin Sang-ok 신상옥 had to do before being allowed back into South Korea after his forced stay in the North (no, don’t get me started on this). So in order to be able to go back home from the US, Shin made a propaganda movie about Kim Hyon Hui  김현희,  the North Korean terrorist who blew up a South Korean plane and got caught doing it

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The Last Fist Of Fury (1977)



No, this is not Bruce Lee. It just isn’t. Really.

lastfistHere is a treat. An authentic Dragon Lee movie! Starring Dragon Lee 巨龍 거룡, whose Bruce Lee impersonation is so perfect it borders on the surreal. Bruceploitation at its best, it is hard to tell that this was originally a Korean movie. The original version is lost,

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Shadowless Sword (2005)

2This must be my favorite pulp movie or at least one of my favorites. Shadowless Sword 무영검/無影劍 is extremely well-made fun, loaded with historical and contemporary references and with those rare actors who under the right direction gracefully bear the load of impressive action scenes and tongue-in-cheek acting.

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Hapkido (1972)

hapkido2Here comes the unbreakable china doll to give you the kicking of your life! That is a fair description of this early Hong Kong/South Korean co-production made by Golden Harvest. Three Chinese students (Angela Mao as Yu Ying, Carter Wong as Kao Chang and Sammo Hung as Fan Wei)have practised Hapkido in colonial Korea for five years, but have to flee the country under increasing Japanese pressure.

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Kill The Shogun (1975)

1killtheshogunzu0“In 1592, the Japanese shogun Hideyoshi failed in his attempt to invade Korea (and later, China through Korea). This Hong Kong kung-fu thriller is loosely based on that historical incident. Since the real Hideyoshi is not an issue, and kung-fu is the star of the movie anyway, historical narration does not overpower the action. Basically, the movie shows the Koreans fighting the Japanese against all odds– but as everyone knows, that one Korean officer with the fast kicking feet, is going to whomp the heck out of anything that moves and single-handedly send Hideyoshi packing.”

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