Clarissa Tan

Kim Jong-un is the least of Asia’s problems

This may look like just a photo of rather boring-looking suits being led by a placid Eastern monk through some Asian temple, but it’s created a furore in South Korea and China. The picture shows Japanese lawmakers visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which deifies people who have died for the Empire of Japan,

China’s GDP shock may be good for everyone in the long run

Is the Chinese economy for turning? The country has reported a ‘shock’ GDP growth of only 7.7 per cent for the fourth quarter. Yes, I know — if only Britain could get such shocks. But economists were expecting China to post an 8 per cent climb and, along with Fitch’s recent rating downgrade and today’s Moody’s lowering of

TV review: The Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Courts; The Sex Clinic

Sometimes a television programme raises far bigger questions than it actually gives a platform for, which is the case with Panorama’s The Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Courts (BBC1, Monday). Wedged in this half-hour slot are explosive issues such as the sovereignty of British law, the role of religion in arbitrating on marital disputes, and the

North Korea nukes — China has a hell of a lot to answer for

Let us be clear — Beijing bankrolled this monster. As Kim Jong-un continues his bellicose bluster, now having moved a second missile to North Korea’s east coast, we cannot forget: it’s the Middle Kingdom that has for decades funded Pyongyang’s armies and kept this cruelest of regimes afloat. Forget Kim’s crankiness. North Korea is one

East vs East – Asia’s new arms race

It is, by now, clear that Kim Jong-un is madder than his father. He’s blasted off North Korea’s third nuclear test and plans to restart its nuclear reactor, as his people continue to starve. Last weekend his government declared that the ‘time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle’ with South Korea. He has

Composition and catharsis: Review of ‘A Late Quartet’.

Why the sudden spate of movies about classical music quartets and impending death? Early this year, we had Quartet, about four senior singers in a retirement home. Now we have A Late Quartet, about a string ensemble facing the loss of one of its members. The film industry couldn’t possibly be subliminally associating classical music

Would you prefer to do business with the eurozone or China?

Does it really matter now whether the eurozone breaks up or not? The damage may already have been done, in terms of business confidence. A £10 billion bailout for Cyprus has been agreed, but nobody will forget that its people woke up one morning to find their bank accounts raided — something you don’t hear

Bankers: I like them — somebody has to

I like bankers. They’re an honest lot. All of us like money, but only they are upfront about it. I once witnessed a conversation between three financiers that started with them comparing their cars, then their houses, then their helicopters. None of the shilly-shallying you find at a society cocktail party, where people slyly suss

Mimics, pagans and pilgrims on TV

What would you do if you had a quite extraordinary talent in impersonating everyone, from Al Pacino to Barack Obama to just any random Irish bloke? In TV land, you are probably rather baffled by it all, and unsure what to do about it as you languish in an unfulfilling half-life, until a Series of

The Spectator’s new Shiva Naipaul Prize winner

The Spectator is proud to announce it has a new Shiva Naipaul Memorial prize winner — Tara Isabella Burton. Tara’s dazzling travel essay about the town of Tbilisi greatly impressed the judges, which this year included Colin Thubron and Joanna Kavenna. Tara’s piece, which you can read here, was published in our Christmas issue. We

“This coming year, I want to live”

What do New Year resolutions mean? Nothing, I have discovered, unless you resolve your old year’s first. In September I was diagnosed with colon cancer and since then, I’ve had time to think about time. It seems as though my past years have collapsed, one after another, one into the other, until I can see

Special K

There’s a K-Pop Academy in London. Students go through a 12-week course and learn not only the finer points of PSY-style hip-hop, but also Korean cuisine, fashion, history and traditional music. Not everyone can attend — as with Hogwarts, one must be chosen. Applicants submit an essay to the Korean Cultural Centre and 30 students

Christmas story: Forever Christmas

Once upon a time, in a land so far away they had heard neither of Google nor of the iPhone 5, there lived a Queen so beautiful it almost hurt to look at her. Her eyes were as clear as a mountain lake, her skin as white as milk, her hair as golden as, well,

London’s high life

You can take a five-minute flight across the Thames on something called the Emirates Air Line. It’s a cable-car ride between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks that’s sponsored by the Gulf carrier. Much else on the ride simulates a plane trip — the tickets are called boarding passes, and when you ‘take off’ from

Boris in Bollywood

So Cameron is making his mark on the EU budget, Gove has caused a stir with his Leveson remarks, and Osborne is prepping for his Autumn Statement. No matter. As usual, Boris is marching to the beat of his own cinematic drummer. He’s going to Bollywood, on an India trip many interpret as an effort

Faking it | 22 November 2012

The star of Gambit, it seems, is the Savoy. And why not? Nobody else seems to want to lay claim to this movie, a refashioning of the 1966 art con caper that starred Michael Caine. Not even Colin Firth, who spends a fair amount of time in the new film unhappily legging it, trouserless, up

The indebted superpower: China

Not only the US, but China is gearing up to welcome a new President, in its case Xi Jinping. That’s not the only similarity between the two global powers. While nothing can beat America’s critical levels of debt (watch the media leap like lemmings over the term ‘fiscal cliff‘), the Middle Kingdom isn’t doing too