Hello and welcome to Across the River, a Korea-focused news blog. My name is Ben Hancock, and I’m a journalist currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve lived in Seoul twice — first as a student, and later working as an editor and correspondent — and have reported on and been an observer of social, political and economic issues on the peninsula for more than a decade. This blog is aimed at three things: (1) Highlighting Korean-language news items I think are interesting; (2) Putting them in context; and (3) Helping the reader (and hopefully myself) learn more Korean vocabulary. It’s part news blog, part open workbook. I encourage readers to comment, add their own perspective, and correct me where I’m wrong. This site also doubles as my professional portfolio. Samples of my published journalism can be found through the About page.
At the outset, I should pay homage to some of the many blogs I’ve read over the years that have informed my perspective on Korea. Many (but not all) are admittedly written by foreigners like myself on the outside looking in. If you’re looking for more insight or just another vantage point from an English-language site, I’d encourage you to check out Ask a Korean!, James Turnbull’s The Grand Narrative, Robert Kelly’s Asian Security Blog, Korea Exposé, and Gusts of Popular Feeling. For news and analysis focused above the DMZ, there’s 38 North, NK News, and Martyn Williams’ North Korea Tech. And of course, one can’t fail to mention The Marmot’s Hole, though it’s now retired. But do check out the great photography by its former operator, Robert Koehler.
Finally, about the title of this blog: It’s taken from a bit of nostalgia about my commute when I last lived in Korea, each day passing under or over the Han River. But it also captures what I’m trying to do here — peering over from my perch abroad, trying to better understand a place that never feels that far away.