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Dennis Rodman: Our Man in Pyongyang

Guess who’s thinking about going back to Pyongyang to hang with his bud, Kim Jong Un? The Worm. At least that’s what the digital Chosun Ilbo is reporting today: Rodman told the Miami Herald at a charity gala last Friday that he and Kim “have no plans really, as far as what we’re going to […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — She’s Got the Beat

In the late summer of 2001, I was writing a series of articles about USFK (United States Forces Korea) organizations doing things in the Korean community. One of the articles I planned to write was about the Eighth Army Band that was giving a concert with some Korean bands in the middle of September. Then […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — Swilling OB, 1990

I’ve got this “Big Country” look going for me one Sunday afternoon in Itaewon, swilling OB in a restaurant underneath what used to be the Burger King. The name of the restaurant was called Vincent, as in Vincent Van Gogh. All these places were the same: the standard menu: kimchi fried rice or pork cutlet, […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — President George Bush’s visit to Korea, 2002

Of all the years that I have lived in Korea, 2002 was a rough year to get through if if you were an American living and working in Korea. Early in the year, U.S. President George Bush included North Korea in his “Axis of Evil” speech and short track speedster, Apolo Ohno became Public Enemy […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — A North Korean Through the Looking Glass, December 31, 1996

My first trip to Panmunjom, which is not really Panmunjom per se, but the Joint Security Area (JSA) was on a cold, deary New Year’s Eve in 1996. The weather made me feel like I had stepped into some Cold War thriller. When you step out on Conference Row and enter one of the Military […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — North Korean School Trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA), 2000

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A North Korean school trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and Panmunjom. This was back in the summer of 2000 during my second trip to the JSA and a trip that I would write about for my first article about “the scariest place in the world.” Of […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — Tumuli Park, 1991

Before we journeyed to Pusan, my friend and colleague Ken wanted to spend a day or two in Kyongju, the ancient capital of Korea’s Shilla Kingdom (noted for its arts and the spread of Buddhism). Located in the center of town were these small hills, which were actually burial mounds. You see these mounds all […]

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — On the Streets of Pusan, 1991

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Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — Chalgachi Fish Market, 1991

One of my first trips outside of Seoul was all the way down to Pusan in early 1991. My friend and colleague Ken Celmer, who had made the same trip the year before wanted to take the same trip again and I joined him. I have an essay about this trip in Waking Up in […]

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Daejeon, 2011 — Seoul, 1990

In many ways, Daejeon reminds me of what Seoul was for me 21 years ago, especially when I see a truck laden with yontan–the charcoal briquettes used for heating and cooking. A lot of it is used in Daejeon, in fact still used a lot by low-income families across the nation. I mention yontan a few […]

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