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John Glionna: Correspondent -- Northeast Asia

September 15, 2008 |  4:29 pm

Here's a memo to the staff from Foreign Editor Bruce Wallace and Managing Editor Davan Maharaj:

We are very pleased to announce that John Glionna is joining The Times’ foreign staff to contribute to our coverage across Asia. We’re all familiar with John’s superb work, not only from the Bay Area where he has been based since 2000, but as a roving pinch-hitter on the foreign staff producing stories ranging from the aftermath of a Pakistan earthquake to the 50,000 Filipinos who live among the dead in a Manila cemetery.

John grew up in Syracuse, New York and graduated with a BA degree in English and American literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His first job was as a copy clerk for the Washington bureau of the New York Times, but moved to the writing side of the business soon after. He began at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, moving to the Kansas City Star and San Diego Tribune before joining The Times San Diego County edition in 1989. He later worked at the paper’s San Fernando Valley edition as a metro reporter, and was a state reporter based in Santa Monica.

Along the way, John’s eye for detail and ear for dialogue have made him a master of the Column One. He wrote about the night watchman at a deserted Alcatraz, watching horror movies on his laptop in Al Capone’s old cell. He introduced us to 75-year-old science professor Preston Boomer who begins the day asking his high school students “Want to blow something up?” His personal favorite is the story of the deserted Ma Bell outpost in the Mojave Desert that was called by scores of people every day worldwide who just wanted to imagine they were making a sound in the desert.

After the story ran, the phone company closed the phone booth.

The foreign desk has already benefitted from John’s enthusiasm for foreign travel. He has written news and features from across Asia, from describing the dangerous business of running for office in Pakistan to writing about the Australian anchorman who read the English-language news on Chinese state TV.

John will now bring that enthusiasm to a challenging and important beat for our paper: covering an often raucous South Korea, and pulling stories out of North Korea, one of the most opaque places on earth. He will also keep an eye on Japan and assist in our overall Asian coverage, with its abundant stories from China and the subcontinent’s war zones.

John will begin by spending much of his time in Beijing but he and his wife, Lily Xie, will eventually take up residence in Seoul.