- The NYT looks at the predicament Suki Kim’s recent book “Without You, There Is No Us,” a memoir of her time teaching English at a private university in Pyongyang, has caused the Christian educators who run the school:
A memoir by a Korean-American author about teaching English to adolescent boys at a private university in Pyongyang was certain to anger the North Korean government.
But the author, Suki Kim, may have provoked even more anger among the university’s Christian educators. They have denounced Ms. Kim for breaking a promise not to write anything about her experiences and said her memoir contains inaccuracies, notably her portrayal of them as missionaries, which could cause them trouble with the North Korean authorities.
In particular, she accuses the teachers at the school of wanting to turning North Koreans on to Jesus:
However, Ms. Kim argued, her fellow teachers also had what she described as another motive. “As much as they say they wanted to educate North Korean kids for no reason, and poured money — life’s savings — into this school, really the larger goal was to convert them, one day, if North Korea were to open up,” she said. “It’s a long-term project of turning them to Jesus, that’s really their larger goal.” Dr. Kim denied her allegations, saying that the school is committed to education, not proselytizing.
As I’ve written here before, I’m not a huge fan of missionary work. That said, I have to imagine that Christian proselytizing probably ranks pretty low on the list of problems North Koreans face.
Anyway, there’s a good interview with Kim in NK News, so go read it.
UPDATE: Suki Kim has posted a response to the New York Times article—and an explanation on the ethics of writing her book—at her website. It raises some interesting questions on how you should approach North Korea as a writer and is worth reading. Here is just a sample:
There is a long tradition of “undercover” journalism—pretending to be something one is not in order to be accepted by a community and uncover truths that would otherwise remain hidden. In some cases, this is the only way to gain access to a place. North Korea, described only recently by the BBC as “one of the world’s most secretive societies,” is such a place.
– Some expats reportedly will be gathering near Hongdae on Saturday to protest the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case:
“We are planning a solidarity action to support and stand with folks in the United States and all around the world for Mike Brown and for justice,” rally organizer Deja Motley told The Korea Times. “Our goal is to raise awareness of the issue in Korea and give people space to voice their opinion.”
From 2 p.m., organizers will start handing out fliers with information in English and Korean about what happened in the case. The organizers will then lead protest chants before speakers recite poems and speak words of hope.
The organizers also plan to collect support messages and mail them to the Brown family in the United States.
Frankly, I find myself agreeing with Kevin McCarthy that Officer Darren Wilson should never have been brought before a grand jury, let alone indicted. The failure to indict the cop who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island, on the other hand, seems like a legitimate miscarriage of justice, regardless of whether prosecutors would have been able to get a conviction out of that case or not.
– A little gift—all the way from 1965—Wangkon sent me via Facebook:
Now, the funny thing is that as I watched it, I had two empty Hwal Myeong Su bottles on my desk:
– Must have been a slow protest day.
– If you like hanok—and you know you do—Tuttle has released a new photo book on Korean homes that looks well worth the purchase.
– Also courtesy Wangkon, we have this piece in the LA Times about Los Angeles Koreatown’s historic architecture:
If K-town increasingly resembles an empire on the march, gobbling up new territory by the week, it is not an empire made of bricks and mortar. It is a net draped over the existing cityscape, a net of signage and light, easily stretched and infinitely expandable. It fills, cloaks or remakes spaces in the city others had abandoned or forgotten about.
In a city that has often demolished even its best-known landmarks, that makes it both an anomaly and a suggestion of the L.A. to come. Threaded through a neighborhood that in demographic terms is mostly Latino, well served by subway and bus lines, K-town is a thriving, charismatic advertisement for a more intensely urban Los Angeles.
It is also a reflection of a city whose immigrants are more settled than ever before, increasingly gaining the clout to shape public and private architecture.
The pictures are worth checking out, too. Because really, who doesn’t like Art Deco?