from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #8: Understanding Korea

with 4 comments

Because my target audience is the general public—at least the portion of the general public which buys books; according to James, middle-American housewives—I didn’t mention the benefits for a particular group of readers in my introduction. Here, I mean expatriates living and working in Korea. 

Understand the Army, understand Korea. I firmly believe this. While not all of Korea’s societal ills can be traced directly to the Army, it is the arena where they are most prevalent and developed. I haven’t looked into the existing academic literature on the subject, but it is a good area to explore if you’re a grad student majoring in Korean society.

While the majority of expatriates here teach English—I, too, am an English whore, bad teeth and all—there is a cohort which experiences the fullness of the dysfunctional and counterproductive Korean corporate culture. You can usually identify them fairly easily. They are rightfully bitter and tend to drink more than their fair share to numb the pain and frustration.

The hierarchical structure and abuse of power is far worse in the army, and most other societal ills meant to distract the victims from their suffering are prohibited on base. Perhaps the experience has had more of an effect on me than I’m willing to admit; it would explain a lot of my behavior. My point is, for those of you who can identify with the previous paragraph, I understand.

That’s as far as I can go in my description. There has to be an incentive to buy the book, when it comes out. For those readers who plan to make a long-term sojourn in the Land of the Morning Calm—calm probably because everyone is recovering from massive soju-induced hangovers—I hope that my story can help you in some capacity. Personally, I never plan to work in a Korean company as far as can be avoided—this is somewhat dependent upon the success of this or any subsequent books—so it might as well help someone. 

The tentative table of contents for my book.

Lesson One: Always Be Prepared
<Basic Training>
Lesson Two: Want Nothing, Waste Nothing
Lesson Three: The Best Way to Get Rid of a Cold
<First Station>
Lesson Four: It’s a Jungle Out There
Lesson Five: Be Mediocre and Unremarkable
Lesson Six: Everything is Possible if You Can Get Away with It
Lesson Seven: Freedom is Sweet, Sweet Honey


Written by Young

May 6, 2010 at 2:22 am

4 Responses

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  1. In my defense I was just as bitter and drank just as much alcohol as an English teacher.


    May 6, 2010 at 6:53 am

    • I don’t want to be argumentative, but I am. Besides, I’ve been teaching a debate class all morning.

      How much of the drinking while you were teaching was a result of teaching as opposed to graduate school? I only stopped bitching about grad school because I’m done. And from what I hear, you hate your current job much more. Besides, we’re alcoholics and I think the primary factor is that you moved far away from your drinking buddies/buddy.

      And yes, you are more bitter now. Admit it. Haha.


      May 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

  2. All y’all crazy.

    Kevin Kim

    May 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    • Sad, but true. This is a crazy world we live in.

      I wish I could rename my debate class: “The Joy of Being an Asshole: Annoying Your Friends in 12 Easy Sessions.”


      May 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

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