Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Appearing in the Korea Times...

I've had two articles published in the Korea Times (or on its site) in the past few days. The first is a post about the Mikuk Sikdang eatery and the meaning behind its name, while the other is the first of a new column (still working on a title) focusing on (mostly) post Korean War history and foreign-Korean encounters (helped out by my access to the Korea Times archives). Many thanks to Jon Dunbar for making this happen.

Today's column deals with the history of James Wade's 1964-74 Korea Times column "Scouting the City," and can be found here. I've written about James Wade before and posted several excerpts of his writing here.

Here are a few sentences I cut out due to space restrictions:
According to Stickler, to get material for this entertainment column, a sidekick "would approach nightclub managers with the pitch that in return for two free dinners and a show a great deal of valuable publicity would be gained” - which surprisingly usually worked. Some nightclubs included “striptease dances performed by nubile Western girls imported for the purpose," and one of them, Babette Blake, was immortalized as the oft-appearing character LaLa Legume.


One of the largest targets “Uncle Alfie” took on, however, was the US. Army. Some criticisms were based on his own observations, such as when he described in 1966 how the US Army could "stick out a little chicken-wire playpen for its dinky beach enclave” at Haeundae Beach in Busan “to prevent contamination by the natives." The reason for this, a GI asserted ("more honest than most"), was "Just so the army can assert its privilege."
One section I knew I wouldn’t have room to insert was regarding a review by Wade in which he criticized the “repulsive callousness” of the “cardboard” main character of C.D.B. Bryan’s Harper Prize Novel “P.S. Wilkinson,” which was set partly in a “godforsaken place” – early 1960s Korea. Though a character shouts “This is the foulest, goddamndest country I’ve ever seen!”, it was a place made bearable by the “Availability of women.” (This was a portrayal of Korea that came up again and again.)

As for the Goldfinger reference, the part of the "white race" Koreans wanted "to the grossest indignities" was white women. Add that to the "striptease dances performed by nubile Western girls imported for the purpose" and you get some rather interesting tensions.

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