Science Fiction in Seoul, Korea

There has not been much activity as of late on this blog, primarily for one reason. I recently moved with my family from our comfortable, suburban home in the USA to Seoul, Korea. The amount of work that goes into relocating across the globe is daunting, to say the least.

But alas, one month after arriving, I have mostly settled in.

For those who are less familiar with the country, science fiction is an active part of the culture. There is a large influence of Japanese culture and bookstores have large sections devoted to manga. American dramas are also popular and many of my coworkers enjoy watching Game of Thrones. Despite the mix of Western and Japanese influence, Korean culture and lifestyle has its own identity. It is hard for me to describe in words, but there are many cute toys, cheerful and upbeat pop music groups, and light-hearted, humorous television shows. I contrast this with American culture, which seems to have a fascination with the dark and gritty.

imageWork has taken up a majority of my time, with language training also taking up a bunch. Many coworkers have asked me what my hobbies are, to which I reply reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and eating good meals. I have also tried a new hobby that is popular among younger people — Gundam modeling. Based on the popular anime, Gundam modeling (or GunPla) is a plastic modeling kit with hundreds of pieces that snap together to make a Japanese robotic mech unit with moveable joints. It has a sometimes extreme devotion, with particular skill required to cut, sand, and properly paint the model before assembly.

I’m under the impression that science fiction hasn’t been taken seriously by older audiences in Korea, but is growing in its popularity for all ages. Original creations of manga and literature are also growing in popularity. I can now read the Korean alphabet, but am barely started in comprehending the language. As encouragement, I picked up a short story collection called Distant Tales by Kim Boyoung. Her writing has been compared to Ted Chiang. Unfortunately, translating is not as simple as copying and pasting text into Google Translate (I foolishly tried this unsuccessfully).

This month, I will take my kids to Comic World, which is supposed to be a pretty cool convention with cosplay. Since my kids adore superheroes, it will be good to find an activity that joins two cultures together.

I expect my blog activity will be sparse in the coming months, considering that my reading activity has dropped to all time lows. I’d like to say I will be remedying it, but I foresee that work, language training, travel, and city life will continue to absorb most of my daily life. I hope to stay active enough in reading to continue posting reviews on Adventures in SciFi Publishing and perhaps on this blog, sharing a broadened perspective that I will gain by living in Eastern culture.