Thu, 5 February 2015
At Busan's Dongseo University, Colin talks with North Korea analyst Brian Reynolds Myers, author of such books as A Reader's Manifesto and The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters. They discuss why South Koreans don't care about the Sword of Damocles that is North Korea; how Korea's capital-centricity looks from relatively far-flung Busan; why Koreans from outside Seoul seem to lack "local patriotism"; why Busan feels, to him, more like an "aggregation of apartment buildings than a community," but nevertheless like home; the benefits he enjoys of his outsider status in Korean society; the intellectual questions he can ask about Korea that a Korean couldn't; what makes the Koreans as an "ahistoric people," like the Greeks and unlike the Egyptians (and more Confucian societies); why he thinks Koreans should learn Indonesian, and why they refuse to; the difference between what Koreans tell themselves and what they tell the world; why so many fewer expatriates in Korea learn the language than in Japan or China, and what makes it so hard; how he got his Soviet Studies degree just before the Berlin Wall came down; what the reunification of Germany has to teach us about the reunification of Korea; how he became well-known among arch-conservatives for a piece on Korea's lack of "state spirit"; why he got his higher degrees in Germany, where they didn't make him go to classes; his arrival in Korea in the time of 9/11, and what took the most mental readjustment from then on; his trial by fire of lecturing at length about North Korea, in Korean; what South Koreans seem to think America is, and why it still attracts them; what it means to "behave like an American" in Korea; the "expiration period" on a foreigner's respectability; what he has come to value about Korean "flexibility"; the free-floating aggression he dislikes about America but doesn't sense in Korea; how he sees the literary pretension situation as having changed in the years since A Reader's Manifesto (and since e-books have taken off); why he hasn't fully engaged with Korean literature and cinema; and one of the highlights of his time in Busan, meeting Isabelle Huppert on the street; and whether he sees more differences or similarities emerging between North and South Korea in recent years.
Direct download: NCC_Korea_Tour_BR_Myers.output.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:24pm UTC