Although I have long since stopped talking about Korea much here at the ‘bottle, except when something smacks me upside the head, an active and vibrant community of Korean webloggers (mostly expats or ex-expats, writing mostly in English, but including some Korean folks and the occasional surge of multilingualism) has sprung up. I haven’t been following any of them until recently, except for the occasional Friday night beer-fueled drive-by-commenting, but my newfound appreciation of aggregation inside Bloglines has got me out there reading them, finally.
Although there are some talented, insightful writers out there in K-land, and many who certainly know more about Korea than I do, the Korean Kluster is probably the most insular, self-regarding echo chamber I’ve ever seen in weblogging (other than perhaps the warblogger circlejerk that reached its zenith between 911 and the beginning of the Iraq Mistake, with whom some of the KK’s netizens share their political leanings), and if you’re careful you can get dizzy following the logrolling in ever-tightening circles. Don’t step in the blog-jizz! This is one of the reasons I eased myself out of posting about Korea all the time, back a year or two ago — I didn’t want to be perceived as a one-note writer, and the fact that I live in Korea is merely an accident of geography and economics and matters of the heart, not the overriding central fact of my existence. And to be honest, the vast majority of waeguk-in (foreigners) I meet in Korea are damaged, ranting weirdos, with whom I’m happy to have minimal interaction.
Than again, that’s what people say about me, too. In a nice way, of course.
The other reason that I’ve had little to say about the Land of The Morning Traffic is that I’ve found myself a job and a place to live that is extremely pleasant and comfortable, and I’m happier than a pig in sh-t, as they say back in the homeland. I simply can’t get charged up for a good rant, when most of the things I’ve been distressed, annoyed, or astonished by here are not things I actually experience any more, here on my corporate Fantasy Island, and hell, I’ve already complained about them enough anyway.
But as I was doing my thrice weekly workout today, sweating it out on the treadmill, hooked up to the headphones and watching BBC World on the TV conveniently mounted at eye level in front of me, I heard such thuddingly inept analysis of the current impeachment debacle from one of the talking heads on Asia Business Report that I found myself talking back to the monitor. In ungracious tones. Unquietly. Which drew some sidelong glances from the other treadmillers, not surprisingly. See also : damaged, ranting weirdos.
This guy — a kid really (damn kids today, working for merchant banks and appearing on TV!) — has appeared on Rico’s show (whatever happened to that dropdead gorgeous woman they had anchoring the show last year? I miss her) before, but had never been tapped to speak about Korea. It was clear why he hadn’t.
I won’t go into details of how laughably far off-base his ‘analysis’ was, but it inspired me to write up a little primer on the last 20 years or so of Korean politics and why we are where we are today, whether you want it or not. Most of the people who read this site do not do so because they’re in search of anecdotes about life in Korea, I’m sure, but I love this place, and I resent it as much as any Korean does when the reality of what is happening here is totally lost by some dipsh-t on TV who gets his information from USA Today.
Stay tuned for an Impeachment Primer, coming to an empty bottle near you, as soon as I bloody well get around to it.
In the meantime, here’re some links to some of the Korean blogs out there that I’ve noticed of late. I missed the Other Friday Five last week, so this can be my atonement. I’m still accumulating a roster of KK reads, so I have no doubt missed some good ones, but since them fellas tend to ink to each other so incestuously, you shouldn’t have much of a problem blogroll-surfing around to find more. If anyone has any suggestions that I should add to my rounds, feel free to add them in the comments thread.
Share and enjoy.


Join the conversation! 21 Comments

  1. I agree with you on the insularity, and I have no intent on becoming “assimilated” myself. Becoming “part of the KK” was never my purpose of blogging (I wasn’t even aware of it until a while after I started), so I hope I don’t come across as such.

  2. I find it easier to be a one-note writer, as I find Korea to be complex enough that as a single writer (and a poor one at that), I find I can’t find nearly the time to write about everything I’d like about the country. I end up sticking with politics, which is interesting enough (for me, anyway), but there’s much more to Korea than politics, and focusing on politics alone can give people are rather screwed up impression of a country, regardless of which nation’s politics are being covered.
    As far as being insular, obviously you’re right, although I gather from expat blogs in other countries that this is the case in places like China and Hong Kong. Frankly, I’d like to start linking to Korean-language webloggers (who, by nature of being Korean, obviously understand the country much more so than myself), but since most of my readers are English-speakers, I’d have to do a lot more translation. Unfortunately, translation is what I do all day for a job, so once I get home and start blogging, I get a little lazy.
    Anyway, if you could offer some suggests for breaking the proverbial circle-jerk, I’d really appreciate them.
    Thanks, Steve

  3. You give yourself too little credit, Steve. You do a great job, and provide a valuable service to us expats (and everyone else) by writing as well and as often as you do about the politics (or facsimile thereof) here in K-land.
    There’s been so much discussion around the greater blog world of late about echo chambers and circlejerks and such that it’s been on my mind, and I didn’t mean to denigrate as much as just poke with sticks, something I take sophomoric pleasure in doing sometimes. No offense to the KK community at large, of which I’m only a part by the most tenuous of links. And geography, which isn’t supposed to mean as much, these days.
    Keep doing what you’re doing, if that’s what you enjoy. If you do it well, the world will beat a path to your door (and with links recently to you from some of the bigger blognodes, much as I may personally disagree with what those Power Law Blogerati have to say about politics for the most part, you’re obviously doing something right).
    As for me, I like to fire off a rant of a political nature now and then, but I find it too damn exhausting to do it full time, strong as the temptation may be. It is clear, especially in these polarized times we live in, though, that writing well about the Scrum is one way to have your voice heard.

  4. Chris, let me add one more to the mix: my friend Andy’s blog. He’s in Seoul and writes mostly in English.

  5. Thanks for the plug.

  6. Thanks Gen, and no worries, Blinger.

  7. I might be insular, but my Taeguk-ki is much, much larger than yours.

  8. It’s not how big your taeguk-ki is, Andy, it’s what you do with it…

  9. Hi Steve,
    I see the insularity stemming first from a sense of community in a foriegn country, and also that because the very resources you criticize in the second half of your post are either uninformed (Rico’s show) or tainted (cho-joong-dong ilbos and ohmynews) that folks look to each other to vent, rant, or just to share information.
    Phil’s (from Flying Chair) little Best of Asia weblog competition last year and my own surfing also showed me something about Korean language weblogs: most are literally on-line diaries. The political or even social issue blogs are not as numerous as the “what I ate, what I drank, what I shat” Korean blogs (as one of the KK members so aptly wrote last year).
    just my musings on the subject.
    the KimcheeGI

  10. You talking to me, Charlie? Cause this’d be my site – Steve is Marmot from (not surprisingly) Marmot’s Hole, and I was responding to one of his comments above.
    Still, thanks for your comments. Now who’s on first again?

  11. Sorry, is stavrosthewonderchicken ok?
    I thought the Marmot was Robert and he was talking to you
    Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third – I loved Abbot and Costello when I was young….

  12. Link Buffet (or I’m too tired to post…)

    Since I have a brief, Sunday repose, (read: I’m now at home on a non-government, post-safe computer…) I’d like to take this opportunity to share some links, and some thoughts on what has happened in the last week. Bad news

  13. Steve=marmot. either this comment poster is fake OR he accidentally used his real name because he uses robert at the Hole.

  14. What the hell is going on in here you guys?
    Ah well – come to think of it, you’re right. Robert != Steve.
    Confusing, this.

  15. Heinz is America’s Favorite Ketchup.

  16. I like most of the Korea blogs better than this one. And you can’t get more insular than ‘Empty Bottle.’

  17. I don’t think you understand what the word ‘insular’ means, Dave.
    And this isn’t a ‘Korea blog’. This is the new flesh, this is the meat in the grinder, this is the sharpened stick, this is the slap in the face with a dead fish.
    This is the song of the open road, this is the ranting of the inebriated, this is the maraschino cherry perched on the creamy peak of the shit sundae, this is radio clash, this is your midnight sweats, this is the chocolate on my hotel pillow, this is a picture of my ass made of the random arrangement of millions of ants under the sway of my patented Ant Control Helmet©, this is the education of a miraculous fowl.
    Or, alternately, if ya don’t like it, well, my friend, I’m not twisting your arm. Go elsewhere.

  18. Empty Bottle Man

    I’ve peered over there a few times before, and been impressed, but been to lazy to blog this site before. But today, when I had a look, I was pleasantly surprised. Someone else who feels how I do about people…

  19. You seek problems because you need their gifts.

    A picture I put together from the Odduki site, these are the two I put together because they were on sale at E-mart a few weeks ago for 480won a piece and I stocked up on both. I can’t…

  20. You seek problems because you need their gifts.

    A picture I put together from the Odduki site, these are the two I put together because they were on sale at E-mart a few weeks ago for 480won a piece and I stocked up on both. I can’t…

  21. We’re Livin’ in Korea Now!

    Stroll on over to OhMyMarmot The Marmot’s (Final) Hole, where Robert informs us of the debut of the highly anticipated, long awaited Living in Korea Test Site. Koreabloggers, Be sure to sign-up and Blog, Korea, Blog….

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