Groove Korea February 2015

Page 68

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Edited by Emilee Jennings (

Nell Fox Influence WhiteLies Burlesque Revue leader Residence Seoul Featured in Groove Korea August 2014

Story by Jamie Keener Photo by Andrew Faulk

WhiteLies Burlesque Revue got its start five years ago when a group of Army wives gathered to perform on post. The group is part of the new burlesque, which keeps the kinky props, satirical sneer and sassy attitude of previous incarnations, but now it’s less about the strip and more about the tease. “Burlesque is not about stripping,” says Nell Fox, the group’s current leader, also U.S.-born, though not an Army wife. “It is about telling a story with your body. It’s about the art of tease, and you can tease however you choose to.” Fox, who moved to Korea in 2008, says she was an introvert with little fashion sense and even less confidence before she did her first burlesque show three years ago. But as time went by her confidence grew, and she began incorporating elements of striptease into her act. Her newfound skills have transformed both her image of herself and her career. Now the 28-year-old from Connecticut is a self-proclaimed glitter junkie with some serious fire-spinning skills who lacks any reservations about embracing herself as a powerful woman. Fox says that in performance, the group tries to capture “the feeling of wanting to glam up and feel good about your body and to have a chance to be like, ‘Look at me, I’m a sexy woman and I’m not scared to let you know it.’” If the group had a manifesto, that would be it. The members see the female body as a canvas onto which the audience can project their own opinions, just as you would with any other work of art. They use sexuality to deconstruct gender and femininity, while challenging the idea that what they do subverts feminism. “WhiteLies has shined a light on burlesque and brought some awareness to the art that was otherwise nonexistent, and I think we’ve inspired a lot of women to feel more confident in their bodies,” Fox says.

Krys Lee Influence Novelist Residence Seoul Featured in Groove Korea June 2012

Although originally from Seoul, Krys Lee grew up along America’s West Coast and received her education in both the U.S. and the U.K. When she returned to Seoul in her 20s she was on her own, and had to learn the Korean language and culture like any other expat. Since then, she’s carved out a life here while navigating the balance between being Korean, Korean-American and a writer who happens to write about Koreans and Korean-Americans. “Drifting House,” Lee’s first book, made its way onto the American and British literary landscapes in February 2012, and was later made available in Korea. Published in the United States by Viking/Penguin, Lee’s collection of stories has received accolades on both sides of the Atlantic, from The Guardian, NPR, The Financial Times and Newsweek’s The Daily Beast among others. Lee’s haunting debut weaves together intricate tales of family and love and the abandonment and loss of Korean immigrants to the United States. Talking about the collection, she says, “I wouldn’t call them immigrant stories, and yet they are in some ways, I suppose. I think of them as stories about individuals with their unique desires and struggles, but because I was so haunted by my parents’ generation while writing ‘Drifting House,’ immigration is certainly part of the stories’ concerns.” She adds, “Many other themes — power, society versus the individual, violence and love — are just as prominent.” Lee is spending the year in Italy as a recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize Fellowship. Her forthcoming novel is about North Korean refugees. 68 / February 2015

Story by Kim Stoker Photo by Dukhwa