Firstly, let me confess, I am not a very prolific blog or indeed news reader when it comes to Korea. My posts are usually personally based; I find something that I like or dislike about Korea, which I have experienced myself, and then I research thoroughly to see if there is any pattern of it occuring anywhere else - if that is required.
With this in mind then, there are only very few blogs that I find myself visiting, which are all listed on my blogroll on the side bar. I thought I might tell you why they are of interest to me and give them a little bit of a thumbs-up on this site. We'll go in alphabetical order (I am leaving out asiapundits.com because I write for them):
Ask a Korean
Although I often find myself disagreeing with much of what he writes about Korea, he articulates his side of the argument (usually pro-Korean, unsurprisingly) extremely well and often comes at problems from angles that others have not thought of or not dared to question. Perhaps inevitably, I come at issues regarding Korea from a somewhat different perspective than he does, however, his writing has given me more pause to think and question my own ideas and beliefs than almost any others on the subject of Korea. Despite the fact I gave him a little bit of a hard time with regard two of his posts - the first on planes crashes (my response here and sorry it was so long) and the second on the effect of modernity on the problems in Korea (I responded on his site) - I respect his writing very much.
I think he has a style of discourse that is very well received in the Western world at the moment because of our penchant to explain-away personal responsibility and apportioning blame for other countries problems on the evils of Western culture. He has a great knowledge of Korea and its history and although I believe he does use this to wriggle-out of difficult situations and excuse many of Korea's problems that they should be presently responsible for changing (if you delve into history, everyone has a reason for doing what they do, to the point where it is always possible to apportion blame to somewhere else), it could just be that he is right. I kind of like the uncertainty I feel about my own position when I read what he writes.
Another person who often disagrees with things that I write, but importantly does it graciously and thoughtfully. I happen upon his blog from time to time and he takes some great pictures too, something I really have to get into - or at least take some rubbish pictures to put on my blogs more often.
BurndogsBurnBlog and As the BurnDog Turns
This sharp-tongued Aussie came to my attention when he wrote criticising me on a post I wrote about co-teachers. I took me a while to appreciate his critique because he did it in a style perhaps all of his own and it sounded rather aggressive. However, after a good deal of expletives and verbal rallies were exchanged, I started to grasp that he had more than just a glimmer of a point on a variety of subjects related to that particular post. This caused a change in how I run things on this site - which I thank him for - and a knowledge that there is someone out there ready to pounce on any sub-par pieces of writing or poorly informed ones I do in the future. I still believe there was quite a lot of truth in that piece, but he did call me out on generalising the same problems throughout the country when, actually, I could have no idea what things were like in other regions of Korea.
Very amusing, strangely rational, straight to the point and highly original, I recommend a look. But if you are easily offended, perhaps you might stay away or at least take care when commenting.
From Korea with Love
A really candid, passionate and well-written blog by a Filipino woman who is married to a South Korean man. Very interesting to get the perspective from a woman from a non-Western country about the challenges they face embedded in South Korean culture and with Korean in-laws. It is also nice that she is a woman, as again the perspective can be quite different to that of a man, and especially a white western man. She writes some personal posts about her life in Korea as well as some well-researched and practical articles about the challenges many people face in marrying into a Korean family, including immigration issues, news, and information.
Gusts of Popular Feeling
We all know about Korea's tendency to be a little xenophobic sometimes, but this blog deals with many issues relating to xenophobia in Korea with such great research and impressive detail that it is a valuable resource. It appears he can also speak and understand Korean quite well (or at least has a good interpreter) and this enables him to delve deeper than most into TV shows and other resources, the likes of which go right over the heads of the rest of us.
Sometimes I do feel that Korea's xenophobia and racism can be slightly blown out of proportion by the Western community in Korea sometimes, but you will hardly find a better resource for examining it than this site.
I must admit that I probably arrived a little late in the piece at this particular site, as it is quite a well-known blog in South Korea, but I have stumbled across a few posts of his lately that I rather liked. Unlike yours truly perhaps, he does have a rather nice way of stepping back from getting too emotional in his writing and really tackles problems in a well thought-out manner. He has obviously been blogging about Korea for a fair amount of time and carries an air of balanced wisdom about all things Korea.
I came across his site first because of a comment he wrote about a piece I did over on asispundits about Hagwons in Korea. As a Hagwon owner himself, I don't think it went down that well with him as I was pretty scathing about the hole Hagwon thing. After a bit of a debate, though, I think we duked-out a fair amount of common ground and argeement. Here are the posts we wrote:
His is a valuable site due the rarity of his situation, i.e. a foreign Hagwon owner who regularly blogs about business, education generally, and the joys and frustrations of it all. I have learnt a lot from it about the ins and outs of the Hagwon system in Korea. I particularly enjoy his musings on his theories of education (which I think are very sensible) and what he thinks about hiring good quality teachers, especially the foreign ones. Well worth a read.