Reviews of Puns using the Seoul / Soul Pseudo-Homonymy

These assorted puns all use, in some way, the movement between the word Seoul, meaning the city in Korea, and Soul, the spiritual or essential concept. I have collected and arranged the following, with short to medium reviews of whether the pun, in the context of the visual image as it occurs, is good or not.

This pun is bad. "The Seoul" is not coherent to refer to the city, so it becomes lopsided toward "soul". It appears to be a pun based only on the pseudo-homonym. 

This pun is not very good. While it has a semi-layered meaning (you are not just buying the nice exterior[ity] but the high-quality asian interior[ity]), there is no such phrase that I'm aware of "buy it body and soul". What would it mean to buy something body and soul, except as it regards, uncomfortably, male fantasies of prostitution, which seem incorrectly juxtaposed with this car.

This is not exactly a pun, but a resonance, and it is not very good because the rhythm of the specific line is not very good. If you're going to have that symmetry of "soul in Seoul", the preceding and proceeding lines should have a relation, instead of "my black American" and "South Korea" otherwise the reader will insinuate that you have racialized and othered the nature of "South Korea" with a vagueness that stands in contrast to your specificities. The cover is very good and the topic seems also very good, despite the poor resonance. 

This pun is terrible. First, Seoul in the image is very bright, it is not dark at all. Perhaps if it was written, "Dark Night of the Hwanghae", the pun would be sufficiently nested that it would surface on reflection. But it isn't. Worse, the image is stupid and reductive and significantly inaccurate, so the pun is in service to reactionary prejudices. But worst of all is the cruelty done to St. John of the Cross, whose profound feeling of spiritual despair is rendered using the visual metaphor, bereft of light and direction, and is here presented as it's untrue inverse, that lacking electrical power is in itself a kind of spiritual destitution. God help us, give us mystic poets rather than people who mistake light bulbs for spirit.

This pun is pretty good. Like a prior entry, it reads "the Seoul" instead of "Seoul", suggesting that nobody thought very hard how to shoe-horn this pun together. However, it's more clearly referring to Fassbinder's "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul". The possibly pretentious character of the reference is soothed by the badness of the pun, which means that the pun is in service to the work and not a stupid afterthought. This is rare enough that it should be encouraged. Also, little puns run throughout the title, with the F in fear laid out as a backward ㅋ and the o in Seoul as a ㅇ that the concept appears, after consideration, to be clearly thought through.

This is a terrible resonance. Not only does it avoid using Seoul to any useful effect, it is in the midst of a grammatical nightmare, as if the nomad found her soul in Seoul while living my designer life. The cover is vaguely asian, enough to be offensive but not informative, making it more clear how little the Seoul is relevant to the story except as an "other than where you are place". The rustic character suggests that the author is either going to lie about what life in a massive modern city is like or hasn't herself been there, or is posturing as some world-weary traveler who has been living the easy life of a Korean expatriate. Useless and offensive.

This pun is bad. The show seems based on the badness of the pun, as there are many more common Army hospitals for children to be born and also this is not a problem at all for anyone, also there is homophobia in it, anyway, the show is bad and the pun is bad because it is the source of the dumb plot of the show. 

This resonance is not very good. It is less bad than the other resonances of "Soul in Seoul", partly because it doesn't overtly distance the two concepts as if Seoul was an unnatural place for a soul to be. However, the Korean title, "나의 영혼인 서울" gives the impression that it is an accident of translation that it has this terrible name, which seems misleading when the english title is clearly prior. It could have been better titled than this, but the resonance is merely flat.

This pun is bad. The original to which the pun refers, the Beatles album 'Rubber Soul', is already joke on the "plastic soul" concept of white musicians singing delta blues. This pun doesn't carry through, which means the reference is treated as an object-corm, undifferentiated and unlayered. This appears as part of an AIDS awareness campaign, but it feels like the pun was sitting on a shelf for decades until someone finally found the appropriate use, rather than some creative AIDS activists were discussing how to market their event and happened on the idea. The staleness and the estrangement of the reference make it a bad pun. 

This pun is not a good pun. Seoul Eater would be a funny pun if it was used correctly, and I was disappointed that there was no good "Seoul Eater". In this instance, it's not even a real graffito, which is irritating, and Kim Jong Il portrayed this way perpetuates racism about east Asian cannibalism and the lettering is reminiscent of US military stencils, so it just makes you sick to your stomach before you even read the pun. Supposing it was written before the death of Kim Jong Il, is badly improphetic as Kim maintained the wary truce between the two countries for more than three decades. The pun itself isn't enough to overcome the foolishness and grossness, because it doesn't try to move anywhere beyond "Kim Jong Il is a kind of devil or demon".

This is two bad puns simultaneously. "Seoul Mate" is an acquaintance or friend in Seoul, while "Soul Mate" is one with whom your essence copulates. The "Seoul" of the first implies that the mate could never be a "Soul" mate but a mate tied to a particular place. Like many of these puns, it uses the location "Seoul" to psychologically distance and project from itself, in order to retroactively insist that it did not intend to fail at finding intense love in Seoul, but that such a failing was the whole plan. 

This is an only barely okay pun. Unlike the prior, it emphasizes the togetherness of the concept and uses signifiers of traditional Korean life to locate itself somewhere besides the abstract. All the potential agents are engaged actively, and are identified as "Korea" and through the statement, with "Seoul", so they do not appear to engage with the culture as a casual thing to be discarded. Despite these, it is playfulness of the "Soul mate" concept as used here, undermining its seriousness by putting it on two young kids. Actually, tho that's true, it stretches the nature of the pun too far, so not being offensive, it emphasizes how contingent and unnecessary the "seoul as soul" is; this could be "Masan Mates" or "Jeolla Mates", so no, this is not a good pun.

This pun is bad. Again, the pun displaces the love the person might have felt in Seoul, onto Seoul, in order to equally resist the possibility that the failure of that love was on the person who failed, namely the author. The melodramatic hands are dumb as well, and subtitle: "Tears and Tragedy" who could want to read a book of this kind. 

This is a bad pun. Seoul has soul music, so it is conceivable to advertise "Seoul Soul Music", there isn't a need to cross out soul. At the same time, "Seoul Music" is not the clear genre distinction that "soul music" is, because all Korean music is effectively "Seoul Music". It is uninformative. Were it a more fully accomplished pun, it might have taken something to do with the inversion of hierarchies of experience that declared "soul music" the music of the heart and everything else an inauthenticity, but there doesn't seem here to be a consideration of authenticities either.

This is a good pun. It is purely superficial, two-sided; the Seoul is material and on fire is material, the Soul is immaterial and the on fire is metaphorical; the kind of symmetry appears to be accidental or unpracticed but I hope the other images in this collection confirm how difficult it is to write a pure, meaningless set of three words without drifting into nonsense or racism. Exciting looking book, I am curious about what the inner struggle of its protagonist might be. 

Amazing pun. Not merely a reference to the Eldridge Cleaver autobiography, it connects deeply with the roots of the Black Panther party to their Vietnam service. In this case, the fantasy is the backward projection of black radicalism, to the veterans of WWII and Korea, and the international struggle against faceless white supremacy and imperialism. The concrete identification of the black panthers with their "comrads of the east" not only erases the distance potentially between the Soul and the othered Seoul, the design and nature of the image make it appear as if Seoul is to be the remedy for the Ice, of all people of color prevented from essential agency by the white supremacist and fascist cause. This is the best "seoul / soul" pun.

This pun is bad and gross. Like earlier bad puns, it unwittingly takes its pun from an earlier pun or reference, as if the earlier pun or reference was complete and without further reference. In this case, the Soul of Soul Patch is a musical reference, effectively identical to "Seoul Music" but applied to a restaurant. Further, it associates facial hair with food. Finally, and embarrassingly, the gross facial hair that it associates with Seoul was worn most famously, in the recent period, by Apolo Ohno, whose rude tricks and cheating schemes against Korean speed-skaters make his name dirt in the Seoul suggested by the sign. 

This is an alright pun. While it seems like the reaper is indeterminate; does it reap in Seoul, does it reap Souls, or does it reap Seoul-Souls, it is a pun that moves between the name of its creator, Jay SeOul and the concept of Soul-reaping, with the meaning of Seoul city, South Korea fading into the background.

This pun is not very good. It relates the character of introspection to the practice of contemporary Korean cinema, as if current filmmakers were finally discovering who they, as Koreans, might be or are becoming. The pun, like so many, allows the homonymy to distance the natural understanding of cinema into a place where they are more authentically introspective, but a less appropriate place would be hard to imagine. Much contemporary Korean cinema has roots and effects in radical social realism and not the psychological content, particularly not the abstract and de-tethered content suggested by the title. At the same time, the other meaning of "soul searching", related to the practice of auto-critique before a confession of sin, is similarly inaccurate as the social critique in contemporary Korean cinema is better described as the vengeful accusation of the long suppressed rather than the confession of the formerly dictatorial powers. Lastly, most Korean films are produced in Busan, so the "soul" that is being searched, the hidden essence of directorial agency, is not even in Seoul.

This pun is very good. Seoul Stirring and Soul Stirring can be read as nearly identical in certain popular arts, as they occur in Seoul, and most identical in something like Cinema. The pun doesn't waste itself with a reference, but allows the growth of contemporary Korean culture to be portrayed as a mutual-project; the more the artists rise, the more the people rise, and the more the artists rise from the people. This is hinted at by the stylized "e" in Seoul. 

Bad, borderline sociopathic pun. Ben Johnson narcissistically uses "Seoul" as a metonym for the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a metonym for his getting caught using steroids after breaking the 100m record there. This turns Seoul into the dark negative from which the positive, Soul, blossoms.

This pun is pretty good. Reversing Johnson's logic, we see the comparison isn't between a strange other and a true self, but one self and many others. That is, the progression of the individual soul to engage in the broader collectivity of Seoul city, becoming as it always was a part of this tremendously large yet hyperlocal object. Soul to Seoul, with the image of this youth, allows us to see the shedding of the old-fashioned essential individualist assumptions, joining with Seoul, the existing real thing.

This is a bad pun. Soul train, in the context of the original show, played on the word "tracks" and the determinisms of dance music, that one was being carried through the music by its nature. "Seoul Train" obviously lacks any metaphorical depth, but all the other images and text suggest something very serious, as if it might be about a train in Seoul and unaware of the television show. It isn't about a train in Seoul, however, but about North Korean defectors who travel by train in China avoiding recapture on their way to South Korea. If the documentary wanted to emphasize the desperate nature of the travel, "Train of Souls" would have done it, and made more clear to them that "Train of Seouls" sounds insane and is a bad pun in a place unworthy of wordplay.

This pun is pretty bad. Unlike the former, which lacked a reference to Seoul outside of "the korean peninsula", this image resorts to a misshaped Korean flag to let us know there might be a sense to this pun. The pun itself is written on a chalkboard, perhaps we know now this is about expatriate foreign teacher drunken recklessness, etc., but it doesn't have anything to do with trains and we're left with another sense lining out away from coherent meaning. The problem seems to be that the writer is operating on a rebus level; "teacher train british (-> mulcahey) in korea (-> Seoul) drunk" while the pun is only in order to provide the rebus a more concrete interpretation for the Korean flag. Seoul Life or A Man in Seoul or What Happened in Seoul are each adequate to the meaning intended, and Seoul Train just seems tacked on and strange.

This is a collection of some tv shows that also have Seoul puns in them. These are mostly bad, but two things stand out.
1) "Seoul Food" is a horrible pun. First, the "Soul" pronunciation of "Seoul" has its own meaning, "Seol food" could be food from the Seol Holiday. Second, this would be the opportunity to use "Seoul Eater" properly, but it wasn't done and nobody has done it, and that remains a shame. 
2) These are mostly racist, identifying a Korean guest character by naming the show after the capital of that actor's home or ancestral nation. 

This pun is good, I think, because the hyphen fractures it into two simultaneous puns. "Soulful Letters" to "Seoulful Letters", letters both emotional and emotional in a way particular to Seoul, and "Soul-Full Letters" to "Seoul-Full Letters", letters whose content is full of one's innermost thoughts and soul and also is full of Seoul information and happenings. It draws attention, too, to the indeterminacy of the word "soulful" to begin with, as well as allowing Seoul into the emotional life, the obviously but strangely unused essence of Seoul / Soul.

This pun is really good. What appears obvious, "Soulless Night" to "Seouless Night" suddenly seems strange, what is a "Soulless night"? Ah! Then it occurs to us, this is a three stage pun, from Sleepless Night to Soulless Night to Seouless Night. The darkness of the earth on the cover, the indication of geopolitical menace and the threat to one of the world's great cities, for which absence would represent a soulless act, the anxiety and fear that creates as a nation suffers near this stable instability, this unmarked threat, this is a tripartite pun and functions at each point appropriately.
It is even better than it seems, for resisting the urge to write Seoulless Night, which might be more accurate but is ugly to look at, the titler of this book is thinking with his aesthetics and it shows. 

This pun is bad. A letter might be full of Seoul, a night might be Seoul-absent, but what is Seoul doing in a kiss? The interesting notion that a kiss might be produced by Seoul itself, that the humongous mechanism could, at a single point, release into a blossom of love that would have occurred nowhere, nohow else, is erased by the kiss itself being full of, instead of "ensoulled" a better resource for a pun and another that was unseen by my research.

This is a bad pun but a very good cover. It is a nihilistic reproach to the rebus style cover of "Seoul Train", where none of the elements refer to each other. First, "Sunflower Seeds and Seoul Food" almost seems like there isn't a pun at all, a sign of a bad pun, but then you wouldn't name a book "Sunflower Seeds and Soul Food" either. The name has no information except probably white, probably not Korean. The photo is of newsprint with a whistle on it, but newspapers are inert, you cannot interact with them and you don't need to. The only people who wear whistles are referees or coaches, but they don't usually wear them to read the newspapers. Then the bottom, "On Sports" but in quotation marks, I think this predates the rise of irony-suggesting inverted commas, but the quotation marks then indicate what, that this is spoken? To a newspaper? That despite the title, sports is the emphasis? Lastly, "featured in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL", the wall street journal's logo is a logo and not a name, and "featured in" is something that advertised products that have bought ad space in a magazine will say, so perhaps it is a sports columnist whose column is called "on sports" tho the whistle is still very incorrect, or perhaps it is something incredibly else.

This is not a good pun. It leaves a hanging foot. Troubled soul, troubled is most probably an adjective, so the soul is in conflict or motion. Troubled Seoul, troubled is most probably a past tense verb, Seoul is being troubled, but this title lacks an agent. That's pretty interesting, as if a gap or a silence is the trouble in Seoul, but the man is getting into a clipart plane, so the gap is filled, the author just didn't indicate it and left us with only the first pun. If I gave Fear Eats the Soul some credit for the little jokes in its design, then I should also be mad at this ugly cover for the OU // OU and L // L issues and the phonics of "Troubled soul" which are so garbled and unpleasant that the author should have chosen a different word entirely to make his bad pun with.

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