BUG #1 |
by J. Scott Burgeson
Talk about a slick, content-rich production ... this is it. From the oversized, slightly-glossy pages to the professional presentation and content-rich format, this 'zine can hardly be called a 'zine. It's a masterful production that looks like it should be on a shelf near the Glamour and Time magazines.
I tried very hard, as a reviewer, not to let the fantastic production of this publication sway my opinion of the work as a whole. A lot of very slick magazines are nice, have content and look good -- but few of them would be categorized as a 'zine. (The definition of which is slippery and elusive -- no words really come to mind to describe what, exactly, makes a 'zine a 'zine instead of a newsletter or a magazine.)
The fact stands, though, definition or not -- this is a great rag. There are interviews with famous Koreans from all different camps -- from Choi Jeong-Hwa, the artist, to Icinoo, the famed costume and fashion designer, to Jang Sun-Woo, an incredible young filmmaker who is rumoured to be the Korean version of Spielberg. The content is so rich and varied (around an arts theme) that you almost forget that only one person, J. Scott Bergeson, put this thing together on his own. The only real help he had was in designing the logo and having things translated.
It boggles the mind.
All 60 pages of this 'zine (Volume 1 -- the special Korea issue) are fascinating. There's an interview with a filmmaker who made a series of independent films based on the comfort women (women imported by Japan during the war to "service" their troops, and I don't mean by serving them cookies and tea, if you get my drift.). There's one with a ch'umjaenggi, or a Korean fortune-teller. There's a fantastic, complex interview with a gisaeng -- Korea's answer to the geisha. And for any martial arts folks who might be reading, there's an interview with Korea's top Taekkyun (Tae Kwan Do) master.
I could go on. There are more than fifteen interviews and articles in this 'zine, and every single one of them is a little slice of artistic creativity and Korean culture.
But I gush.
I have nothing bad to say about BUG, except that the only way to get it is with a credit card, directly from Korea. With shipping, mine came to just about $8 (U.S.). It varies, depending on the exchange rate of wan at the time, but it hovers around 4,000 wan or $3.75, with shipping costs of about $6 added on. Delivery time is quick, and there are more issues available. I'd subscribe if I could.
To read more about it, you can visit the Web site. At this time, I believe none of the major distributors carry it, but I could be wrong.
However you get it, it's worth the trouble. Pick it up, read it from cover to cover, and give in to the fascination. It has my highest recommendation.