An Unexpected Encounter in London, or Gutenberg in Korea

Korean_book-Jikji-Selected_Teachings_of_Buddhist_Sages_and_Seon_Masters-1377The universe works in mysterious ways. It boggles the mind at times. Last Wednesday I was in London for a very brief visit to the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea to talk about the pros and cons of cultural diplomacy with North Korea. About the possibility of anything slightly resembling cultural diplomacy with North Korea. Timing was excellent. Not my timing, but that of the universe, for the previous evening the proposal for a resolution on the human rights situation in North Korea

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Man And Mystery in Asia – Ferdinand Ossendowski  

I was lucky this weekend to get a chance to read a book which has been lying on my desk for a few months now (next to

Man And Mystery In Asia

Man And Mystery In Asia

the ever-growing pile of the latest research in my field…): Man And Mystery in Asia by Ferdinand Ossendowski, the Polish noble/ chemist/ biologist/ geologist/ explorer/ fugitive from the Cheka and the Bolsheviks/ bestseller author/ hunter/ storyteller extraordinaire. I’m sure I’m leaving a number of defining qualifications out of this description, but the fact that he saw the inside of a prison both under the Tsar and under the Bolsheviks on account of ideological crimes tells you something about the man. That he was a fundamentally decent and courageous person. Or incredibly stupid and unfortunate to fall foul of two such formidable enemies,

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Classified materials obtained in dark and sinister ways

I wasUntitled just sent classified materials. 291 pages of classified, top secret data filled with numbers, analyses, tables, indexes. How do I know they  are classified, you ask? Well, this here to the left  is a dead give-away, the Chinese character equivalent of this immediately recognizable warning below:
UKUSA_top_secret


That is what it would have said had this been a 70s spy movie.

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The Tiger’s Claw – Mary Linley Taylor

WoImagenderful book about George Yankovsky, a larger-than-life hunter of Manchurian tigers, punisher of Manchurian bandits, one-time Texas cowboy (I shit you not), breeder of horses and deer, scion of Polish nobles in exile and overall too-cool-to-be-true guy (he’s probably the only person in the world to equal this guy in terms of raw coolness). His resort in what is now Jeongjin in North Korea must have been incredible. His eldest son (Valery Yankovsky, who ended up in Soviet Gulag after ’45, but survived and became a writer and poet) wrote a number of autobiographical books on the incredible story of his family (this is one of them, translated into English for your benefit). Another son (Arseny) made it to America where he became a very valuable CIA asset (he spoke Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Korean, German, French, English) until he was suspected

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