I forgot to mention this, but looks like we have ourselves a “speculative fiction” (SF and fantasy and horror, I guess?) critique group in Seoul. This is something I’ve been wanting to set up for years, but I never knew enough people in the area who were writing.
(I did have a frustrating brush with a local open mic night–groan–but the thing is that with crit groups, you kind of need the people critting to be familiar with the genre you’re writing. Otherwise, you’re in the same position as asking a fan of Mozart to give you pointers on your atonal jazz improvisation.)
There’s currently six of us now, with only one member–my Clarion West classmate Ben Burgis–more than 30 minutes from Seoul. We meet biweekly, as long as two-thirds of our group can make it, and so far things have been good, with some solid critiquing going. It’s very refreshing to have a chance to spend some time with other genre writers again, after so long without more than very brief chances (at conventions) to do so, and the members of this group are a good bunch too.
Amusingly, my own Creative Writing students seemed to find the fact I also attend a crit group fascinating and surprising. “Oh yeah,” I told them. “Lots of people do that, even when they are professional writers. It’s supportive, and fun. And you get to be around other writers, who get it about all those writery things you do and think and feel. It’s a great thing.” Didn’t seem to dispel the surprise or awe, but I think they got it that the method we’re using isn’t just some random thing: it’s something real writers do with real work. Which I hope is encouraging.