Archive for January 10th, 2007

Ford grips government by the balls

I just love how federal money gets dumped into the hands of corporate, auto-America instead of to the people who need it most:

US state Michigan has agreed to give Ford Motor $300m to keep open six of its factories in the state […] The firm had threatened to go to other neighboring states, such as Minnesota and Indiana, which had also been prepared to offer subsidies.

Traveling back through words

Now, this post might be a little late, but I would venture to say that relatively few people have heard of Simon Winchester, or at least about the reprint of his book Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles, which was originally printed in the 1980s. I picked this up in a bookstore in Manhattan’s West Village during the summer, though the cheese title and the usually arrogant tone of foreigners writing about Korea made me a bit wary to do so. I recently finished it (finally having some downtime to read), and was pleasantly surprised at what I thought was a witty and astute narrative about a real journey through the country that has so entangled my heart.

Customer reviews I read on amazon harshly knocked the book, some calling it “arrogant” and “disappointing.” But Winchester’s observations seem to be snapshots taken through a clear lens: the graceful aspects of Korean life and culture preserved along with the quirks and warts. His story is unique, having travelled the entire length of South Korea on foot, from Jeju island to the JSA. While the vulgar nature his interactions with American troops made me cringe, the tales of long walks through the Korean countryside and chance conversations with locals evoke the character of the nation, and provide a great historical context for the state of Korea today.

Admittedly, having a prior interest really makes the book all the more appealling – but in no way was the read disappointing. Winchester’s tone is humorous and sensitive to the details that make a story truly compelling. In seeing the Amazon reviews, either I’ve missed something, or they have.

Recently, I came across another writer, Rolf Potts, whose words have been tugging my mind back to thoughts of Korea. I came across a series of articles by him published on Slate back in October about a new film called Expats, which will to be the first American film to touch on expatriate life in South Korea. Potts, a well-known travel writer who lived for over two years in Busan (and wrote about it for Salon) as an expat English teacher, offers a unique insight into the world of expat life. He is sharply observant, and the world he describes is vivid. I’ll be careful not to sound like I’m fawning, but Potts writes like I want to write: without fluff, with every word painting a clear picture of his experience.

Taking all this in, I can’t help but feel homesick…for one of my homes.

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