I’ve written about heaven before. Jesus showed us that heaven is a place on earth. Or was that some rock band I wasn’t allowed to listen to in the 80s? The 90s? Whatever. The thing is, there exist on this earth special places where I am sure, if God or the prophets were walking barefoot […]


I start writing this confession on a bleak Friday afternoon, and even though I am still full of Thursday’s Thanksgiving Table, I’ve just stuffed my body with waffles and eggs and bacon and syrup. Winter is coming, after all. If I was home already, the coming weekend would herald the changing of the seasons. Spring giving […]

New York, Don’t Panic

Don’t panic, It’s ok, I’m here, I’ve bloody-well arrived. Making it to New York marks a major milestone in my trip – and I feel funny about it. Some of my anxiety is probably quite rational – unlike my fear of birds, hedges, and footpaths. The thing is, New York is something of a “black hole” in my […]

Sopyonjae: The Accumulation and Resolution of Han

My review of Sopyonjae appears in this month’s edition of 미르 (Mirror), the magazine published by The National Theater of Korea. You can see a digital copy in Korean, here (see page 52). — Evoking the iconic scene from Im Kwon-taek’s original 1993 film, The National Changgeuk Company’s Sopyonjae opens with the itinerant pansori singer Yubong wandering down a winding mountain […]

Progress? Perhaps.

NOTE: The photo above is clearly not of me. On my final lesson in my second-last week here, my teacher asked if there was anything else I wanted to learn. I worked up the courage to say… 심봉사 눈뜨는 대목… This is the climax of Shimcheongga, where old blind Mr. Shim finally comes face to […]

Officially Week 2

On Thursday I spent an hour attempting to learn three phrases that take exactly 29 seconds to sing. Two weeks into my residency, it was my fifth pansori lesson with Oh Minah. In my first week I learned a new folk song, 강강술래 (Gang Gang Sullae), and started more detailed work on the funeral song […]