Sunday, January 26, 2014

Self-Published Wacky Expat Shenanigans in South Korea Novels

I found something the other day that prompted me to crawl out of the woodwork, something I can best describe as the aborted fetus of a literary movement: the lost in Korea generation.

An overwhelming number of EFL teachers in South Korea end up writing blogs. Only natural: the majority of them are the first among their peer group to teach in Korea, and it's easier to share longform updates and photo essays via Wordpress or Blogger than it is via email or Facebook.  Plus, I think you'd find that many of them majored in English at university, to some extent—straight up English, or Creative Writing (guilty), or Journalism, and so on. I'd argue that crowd represents a disproportionately large number of EFL teachers in Korea. Not as many as Education, perhaps, but a close second.

Naturally, then, when you have people with a passion for words on what may be the biggest adventure of their lives, away from their friends and family for maybe the first time in their lives, a blog becomes a tempting, even an inevitable, step to take. Add a few words of encouragement in the comments, and you know what seems like an even better idea?

A novel

Full disclosure: I wouldn't have bothered digging these specimens up if I weren't up to tricks myself. I'm guilty of having literary aspirations, too. 

That's besides the point of this entry. I have some amount of high-falutin' critical literary thoughts on what a novel about teaching in South Korea should and shouldn't be, but that can come later. For now, I just want to float these links to self-published "wacky expat shenanigans in South Korea!" novels out into the world for your amusement, since they are pretty awful. If you want to write a novel about EFL teachers in South Korea, don't write one like these. Please.

Out of courtesy to the authors who, as far as I can Google, have moved on into careers unrelated to teaching English or creative writing, I won't include their names or links to their Facebook/LinkedIn profiles, all of which I was able to find rather easily. Which brings me to a piece of advice: when writing a book based on your own real life experiences, do yourself a favor and use a pen name. 

English Toss on Planet Andong by Dave Franklin (exception made because he is a writer by trade)

The granddaddy of all of these, though, is unusual in that it's mostly about being in jail: the infamous Brother One Cell by Cullen Thomas (who still seems to make bank on this book, so he gets named here, too). This one is maybe worth reading, but the reviews seem mixed, so it'll have to wait for a slow book day, after I've filled in the gaps of my English literature history.


  1. How's your novel coming along, Princess? You didn't get around to telling us what a novel about teaching in South Korea should and shouldn't have, I would be interested in reading it.

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  3. I take it with that fantastic MFA in creative writing, writing your great Korean ESL novel is proving harder than imagined.

    If you write something half as good as 'Island of Fantasy' then gob off about your literary aspirations and talents, but writing said 'Great American (in Korea) Novel' is harder than it looks, as you must have realised when you got to page 100 and ran out of things to say.

    So yeah, gob off about how crap other peoples books are, when you have actually written your book - and then we, the unwashed masses can judge your efforts against theirs.

  4. Wow, the collections are amazing. The last book I read was Being stripped naked by Adam Peirs. This book takes you through the Hong Kong Expat Life during the time of 1997. It's really interesting and amazing.