Friday, July 14, 2006

Visions of Koreas

Some very different images of the two Koreas can be found on-line. For the positive, some western jazz musicians have found successful opportunities for artistic collaboration in South Korea recently, according to the Korea Times. American Ronn Branton now lives in Korea with his Korean wife, pursuing fusions of Jazz and traditional Korean classical music. American vocalist Tim Strong is also currently living in the South with his wife, the New Zealand Ambassador, another in a long line of jazz ambassadors, going back to Armstrong and Brubeck.

Conversely, the Black Ship (via Korea Liberator) shows some grim images of life in the North, from a book published in Japan by Charles Jenkins. Jenkins had deserted the American army while serving in South Korea for fear of serving in Viet Nam. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of seeking refuge in the North, where he was exploited as a propaganda tool. He was eventually allowed to relocate to Japan, where he published this memoir. Black Ship provides some helpful caption translations, like: “Just married. Whenever taking a picture, we always struggled to find a spot where there wouldn’t be any barbed wire in the background.” Obviously Jenkins is a controversial figure, but it looks like his book has value as a document of life in North Korea. These translations show how cool the internet can be for disseminating information.