Ep. 20 – Alastair Gale on Japan and the Koreas

Alastair Gale is the former Korea bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and now Japan Editor, writing about Japan’s economic, business and security challenges. Alastair has lived in Asia for over two decades covering the two Koreas, including the emergence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Prior to Seoul, Alastair spent several years in Singapore and Tokyo. He’s originally from the U.K. and graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Philosophy and Mathematics. You can connect with Alastair at alastair.gale@wsj.com and on Twitter @AlastairGale

Show Notes

01:33 on getting in to journalism

03:20 on covering the death of Kim Jong-il

07:30 on work-life balance in Korea vs Japan

14:45 what Japanese people read / North Korea

17:50 on working as a foreign correspondent in Korea and Japan

21:53 on language skills and reporting

23:49 favorite stories

27:00 underreported news stories in Korea and Japan / Article 9

37:40 why Alastair isn’t worried about North Korea

40:10 why Tokyo is easier to live in than Seoul

43:25 what Alastair wish he knew about journalism when he started

45:20 overrated and underrated in Japan

47:27 bad ideas

48:42 advice to aspiring foreign correspondents in Asia

50:03 book recommendations / what Alastair will publish

People, Places, Things Mentioned in the Show

Abenomics (アベノミクス)

Asia Struggles for a Solution to Its ‘Missing Women’ Problem

Blue House (청와대)

Comfort women

Committee for the Five Northern Korean Provinces (이북 5도 위원회)

DMZ landmine attack (2015)

Elderly poverty

Evan Ramstad

Japan Says Kobe Steel Scandal Threatens Country’s Reputation for Quality

Japan’s Abe to push pacifist constitution reform after strong election win

Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-nam


Liberal Democratic Party (自民党)

Mario Kart Racing in Tokyo

Myers, B.R.: The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters

North Korean Fishermen, Adrift for Months, Wash Up in Japan

Oberdorfer, Don: The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

Perry, Richard Lloyd: Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone

Press club (Kisha club) (記者クラブ)

Robert Kelly (BBC Dad)

The Wall Street Journal

Yonhap News

You May Run Into Kim Jong-un in South Korea, but He or She Won’t Be a Dictator

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