The wider discussion that The Korean and Rob have sparked off continues with two more recent posts on the subject, here and here. Along the way, a very interesting post was contributed by Matt, that reads almost like a “bitching expat blog” roundup, except all the complaints were made by foreigners in Korea a century or more ago, long before blogs ever existed. I loved this post, and I wanted to link it, but I had it in my head that I’d be posting it with another installment: that’s not going to happen, so I am posting the link as is. Go read it — it’s a wonderfully comforting feeling to know other people complained ages ago about the same things you may have complained about.
Jack London’s line, for me, resonated most with my own frustrations in trying to get anything done in Iksan:
“Upso,” was their invariable reply. “Upso,” cursed word, which means “Have not got.”
Which reminds me of the very neat fact that I’m far from the first Western SF author to come to Korea. Jack London is likely the first: his The Iron Heel (available free online here) is an early and apparently important radical dystopian SF novel (which, no, I have not read yet, but it’s in the list, and I’ll pop it into my ebook reader soon, since it’s downloadable and all). I’m very interested to read more of what Matt turned up among London’s works, which he hinted at in his post and mentioned to me when we met up last month.
I have to confess I simply don’t have time to make a decent contribution to this half of the discussion — why so so many Koreans seem to be so sensitive to criticism by foreigners. I have some observations to make, but no time in which to make them. Perhaps another time.