Chat with Beauties, uh I meant Bloggers (미.수.다. ring a bell?)

Written by on March 29, 2013 in Special Report

While putting together an article on the top English-language blogs about Korea, I talked to a great deal of people who are not only interested in Korea but also very opinionated on it. Then I had to hack all the material they gave me down into a couple lines each, and it was still the longest article I’ve published on Korea.net.

But considering the interesting answers I got from so many of them, it only seemed fair that I publish their answers in full, somewhere.

The Korea Blog gives me that opportunity! Although I felt sheepish not interviewing anybody who works for the Korea Blog, I kind of figure if you’re here then you already know about us.

So here are the interviews I did, in full text, so you can see how I mangle and misquote everyone I talk to.

The Marmot’s Hole

Of course I had to put this one in. The Marmot’s Hole is the biggest, longest-running blog on Korea. I figured out my questions for Robert before anyone else, and he got back to me after everyone else.

Jon: How has blogging enriched your life?

Robert: How has blogging enriched my life? Interesting question. Well, certainly, I’ve learned a lot through blogging. In fact, I’d almost say that’s the main reason I blog now — it forces me to stay reasonably informed. Frankly, when I started blogging, I thought I knew a lot. Now, I realize just how little I know. I like to think that’s progress. The blog has helped me professionally, too — a friend I met through it helped me get my last two jobs. Blogging can be pretty good for self-promotion, too, but depending on what you write, it can work the other way.

Oh, and aside from the Marmot’s Hole, I derive a great deal of joy from my Tumblr blog nowadays. Honestly, I think I enjoy doing that more than the Marmot’s Hole sometimes. I’ve gained a love for photography — not very good at it yet, but it’s fun, and I like being able to share Korea’s beautiful landscapes and cityscapes with audiences both domestic and overseas.

There’s no link with Seoul Selection, and in truth, I do try to keep those two parts of my life compartmentalized. I generally do not “blog shop,” so to speak, and some of my ideas and posts are controversial enough that I wouldn’t want people to confuse them with Seoul Selection’s positions.

Jon: How has English-language blogging about Korea changed since 2003?

Robert: Well, for starters, there’s a lot more K-pop and Korean wave-related stuff out there now. Blogs like Eat Your Kimchi are the biggest blogs right now, and frankly, I think that’s a good thing. I think it demonstrates Korea’s rising profile on the global cultural stage. I think it’s also helped to move the dialogue to more positive aspects of Korea. Secondly, there are just a lot more blogs. In 2003, blogging was a new medium. Now, it’s pretty universal. It seems like just about every expat has a blog. That means a lot more voices, and a greater diversity of voices. I have no idea what the number is, or if anyone has ever counted.

Another big change has been the rise of social media. If you’re a blogger, it’s absolutely critical nowadays to integrate your blog into Facebook and Twitter. That wasn’t the case in 2003.

The Grand Narrative

I admit I’m less familiar with The Grand Narrative, mainly because of a lack of interest in pop culture, but it is a very well-thought-out analysis of a lot of the subtexts most people don’t pay attention to, or even expect from mass-produced media. I actually kind of called him out as a Korea hater, which he rebutted thoroughly.

Jon: Reading your site, I get the strong impression that you’re not a fan of a lot of the content you analyse and criticise, especially K-pop. I’m not into it myself, but I don’t spend much time thinking about it. What is your relationship to your subject matter?

James: Well, given the huge time and commitment involved, it’s never a good idea to write about something you don’t even like. So, as it turns out, actually I’m a big fan.

That said, there’s always a great deal to criticize K-pop and the Korean media on how they objectify women, encourage unhealthy body ideals, and present such passive gender and sexual roles for them. And, with such limited time to write, and — until very recently — so few writers out there willing to bring any kind of academic research to their own critiques (not that I claim to be an academic myself!), then it was easy for my writing to fall into a certain pattern.

On the other hand, I do try to avoid sounding so cynical and repetitive. So, by coincidence, in two weeks I’ll be posting an article about indie girl-groups that reject being objectified for instance, chosen to counter one going up this week about mainstream girl-groups that don’t. And, when K-pop does produce something that defies the stereotypes, then I’m just as gushing as any fanboy — just see my review of Ga-in’s “Bloom!”

As for my relationship to the subject matter, working on it consistently for nearly six years now has led to guest lecturing across Korea and overseas, writing for magazines, some consulting work, and a (co-written) chapter on girl-groups in a book coming out later this year. Which has all been great of course, especially all the people I’ve met and friends I’ve made that I wouldn’t have otherwise, but still: that’s very little money for thousands of hours’ work. Now, as I approach my forties, and have a family to support, then frankly I need to do much less unpaid blogging and much much more paid writing work. After all, as the Joker said, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free!”

Jon: International attitudes toward Korea and Korean pop culture have changed almost exponentially over the last few years. We’re not really out on an island here anymore. How has that affected your readership and the feedback you get?

James: Generally, my readership has always been 2/3 female, and mostly from Korea and the US. Despite the K-pop boom, I haven’t really witnessed many changes in that — there may well be more fans out there, but my blog is still too much reading for most of them!

If I did have to pinpoint changes though, two would be having many more readers from Southeast Asia than I used to, and (some of) my posts now generating much more discussions in online forums and so on than they ever do in the comments sections of the blog itself. Partially, that’s because because I’m much better known now, but of course the main reason is that most of those forums just didn’t exist until recently.

Another change would be having a lot less trolls. Hopefully, that’s due to a change in my own attitudes — frankly, I started the blog thinking I was an expert on Korea, whereas now I realize that even after 13 years here, there’s so very little I really know about the place (sure, it’s a cliche — but it’s true!). But probably, it’s mainly due to me regularly using Korean and/or Korean-language sources, which makes it difficult to dismiss what I say as just the typical ravings of an White male expat!

Gusts of Popular Feelings

Matt from Popular Gusts is someone I consider a friend, and actually I ran into him the night before my deadline in a makgeolli bar, where I reminded him numerous times of this interview. He went home and sometime late at night came up with this response.

Jon: Your blog definitely stands out among all others for being a huge amount to read. The articles tend to be extremely interesting, with lots of research poured into them, but also big walls of text. It’s clear that you’ve put years of work into the site. What keeps you going at it?

Matt: The blog started out of an interest in Korean history and current events. I do have a degree in history, and the reason I chose to pursue that degree was due to a lifelong interest in history. Wherever I am — whether in Canada, visiting friends in San Francisco, traveling in Southeast Asia, or living in Korea — I’ve always been interested in finding out more about the history of the place I’m in at the moment. The blog is essentially a reflection of that passion to learn more. That said, I imagine these days it’s a bit overly focused on media representations of foreign teachers in Korea, but with the apparent waning of interest in that topic on the part of the Korean media, I imagine I’ll have more time to delve into a lot of the unfinished projects I’ve been researching over the years.

Jon: I went back to your 2005 archives because I was curious how the site has changed over the years. I’m not convinced it has changed much. But reading through that I was surprised at how new a lot of things we take for granted are. So, my question is, what are some of the most amazing things you’ve discovered in the course of writing for your site? What things have you found and posted about that get your readers — and even many Koreans — to go “Wow, I did not know that about Korea.”

I always find there’s more to discover. Always. And especially having lived here for over a decade (a paltry amount of time compared to some of the people I know who have lived here for decades), I have a number of friends who have lived in Korea for some time who are also interested in their own areas of Korean history who have asked me for help in their projects, just as I know a number of people who have been in Korea longer than me who have helped me immensely. Robert Neff, who has written numerous articles and several books about the history of the foreign community in Korea pointed me in the direction of the National Assembly Library, where I’ve done a great deal of research, and I’ve passed that invaluable resource on to other people interested in researching their own area of Korean history. Regarding that, outside of my interest in uncovering Korean history, my blog has not only provided me with an outlet for my research, but has also led me to meet a lot of wonderful, like-minded people, and that’s something that has kept me going.

As for amazing things I’ve discovered, one thing would most certainly be the breadth of Korean classic rock music from the 1970s, as well as how that music scene was suppressed (and in that I owe a great deal to Mark Russell, who has written a great deal about Korean popular culture). Years ago I also looked into accounts of Korea by British explorers in the 1800s, and was fascinated by both the differences and many similarities with Korea today. Earlier on I wrote more about North Korea, and found it interesting just how similar Korean culture in both North and South Korea are, and it was because of my writing on my blog and my experience teaching English that I was eventually asked by the Canadian Embassy to take part in a pilot program to teach English to North Korean defectors, which was an amazing experience.

Korean Literature in Translation

I met Charles last year after he was given honorary Seoul citizenship, clearly because he’s cornered a market that hasn’t received all that much international attention otherwise. While there may be hundreds of food blogs and music blogs, there’s only one literature blog that I could find.

Jon: Why did you decide to report on your Korean literature interests and activities in blog form? What is it about the blog format that appeals to you?

Charles: I decided to to work on Korean literature on a blog for two reasons. First, I saw that Korea itself was interested in the notion of blogs in general (particularly “power blogs”) and second I saw the success that other niche blogs had achieved (for instance James Turnbull’s The Grand Narrative). Also, having been a webmaster I was already quite familiar with how to use the web. Most of my learning curve actually came in other arenas, like learning to use Twitter…

I knew the niche existed even if no one really saw it. The Korean concern over the Nobel Prize for Literature showed that the culturati were concerned in the field. I also knew that Korea generally behaves very favorably towards foreign advocates of Korean culture. When I looked around and saw no such blog existed, I strongly suspected that if I just kept at it (regular posting being the most important thing) I would be noticed. Now I get about 200 hits a day, and while the majority of hits used to come from Korea, they are now international..

This also led to my being noticed internationally… for instance last vacation I was invited to lecture at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur… Also, Korean press and government started noticing me, particularly for things like the Wikipedia Project.

The response has all been positive and it’s been a learning experience for me. One thing about all the writing I do on the blog is that it helps me organize my understanding of the literature… the act of re-writing is very useful…

The blog has introduced me to things that many English teachers don’t get access to. The Seoul Literary Society, for instance, is awesome and through it I’ve met people I really should never have had the chance to meet.^^ Diplomats, policiticians, authors. Still, I think anyone with a vision and interest could do something like I do…

Chincha

Chincha was one of the many sites I wanted to profile, yet I was unsure if it really qualifies as a blog. This led me to consider what makes a blog, and when it is not a blog. However, it is clear that they’re at least partially bloggish.

Jon: One of the things I like best about your site is the name, Chincha. It’s catchy, memorable, and notably Korean-sounding. How was the name created, and why was it chosen?

Loren: We threw a few titles around but I was taken with the word ‘chincha’ at the time, as were many of my expat friends, mainly because it is very catchy and memorable. It was one of the first Korean words I learnt that really stuck with me. The true meaning of the word doesn’t apply to the site — it was never as if we were trying to be shocking with our content or create a reaction. The whole point of the blog was to show Korea in a positive light, but it evolved into a documentation of our weekends and the ‘cool’ stuff that was happening in Seoul. I guess we mainly called it Chincha because it sounds like a fun word and we were trying to avoid the spate of blogs with Korean stereotypes included in their name.

Just as a side note: we’ve had a few purists comment in the past that the true romanisation of 진짜 is ‘jinja.’ It’s something that came up when we were naming the site. I read ‘jinja’ more like ‘ginger’, which gives off some strange connotations that don’t have anything to do with Korea. Plus I kind of like that some people don’t associate chincha with 진짜. I like to think of it as reverse Konglish. Englean??

Jon: Chincha is described as a “magazine-style website,” but looking at its structure I’d say it’s more of a weblog-style magazine. Would you say that Chincha is a blog? What about it makes it different from a more standard blog?

Loren: I always have a problem defining what Chincha is, mostly because I’m constantly changing my mind over what to do with it. It’s not really a magazine but it’s also not really a blog. For me, a blog is a personal webpage which focuses on one person and their thoughts. Chincha is — and always has been — a collaborative effort. Much of our content is a lot more thought-out and takes more effort than writing a personal blog post. We do interviews in person when we can, contact people for information, source pictures legally (or take our own), and put a lot of research into our articles. I think a blog-style magazine could be accurate, although I find myself describing Chincha as a ‘webzine’ more often.

We are creating a Chincha magazine (or a zine — more problems with definition!) this year, though.

Kojects

I only discovered Kojects recently, as it kept popping up when I tried researching similar topics. I instantly loved it, and interviewed one of its writers recently for an article on Korea.net. It had passed me by that Nikola was not the founder, but his writing on urban issues always impresses me.

Jon: Why did you decide to start a blog on urbanism? What interests you about that topic in Korea?

Nikola: The blog Kojects was founded 2010 by Andy Tebay and his intention was to inform about current transport projects like subway line extensions, new rail lines and so on. I’ve joined him at the beginning of this year because Kojects should cover not only transport constructions but also changes in urban space and a more critical view about current projects.

The reason why I write about such topics is that I want to raise attention for specific elements of our daily life. This could be a bus stop, pedestrian area, urban cycling or many other things and places where most of the people pass by without acknowledging them. At university I learned how to analyze places. Since then I walk around with open eyes and I can’t resist to blog about interesting structures I see.

Korea is still in the development of modern urban structures. This means that there’s still a lot to do. Concerning the tasks, I love that Korea aims for very high standards. Korea orientates mostly towards international best-practices which get adapted to their needs and customs.

Jon: It seems like you keep a close eye on government initiatives and policy. How would you describe your relationship to the government here?

Nikola: Two years ago I worked part-time at the Korea Transport Institute, in short KOTI. It’s a think-tank about transportation funded by the government. KOTI conducts researches and sends plan drafts to MLTM (Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs). Andy worked there until recently, too. So we know the “source” of all transport policies and developments. They even supported my final thesis of undergrad with aot[sic] of precious, usually unaccessable information. I keep contact to former colleagues and I often attend seminars and various conferences about transport related topics (organized by KOTI or MLTM). Such events are a great opportunity to discuss new plans or ask questions of personal interest.

koreaBANG

So apparently koreaBang is not a blog, yet I’d say it exists in the blogosphere and offers blogging content for other bloggers to blog about on their blogs. I disagree with James when he says that a blog should be opinionated and talk about the writer’s private life, thus I see it as more of a blog than they do. After all, they readily admit that the site does have a personality through the selection of its content. James insisted on letting everyone answer my questions, including Kai, the founder of chinaSMACK, but I had to explain how much information I was already wading through. Oh, and despite the fact I really don’t like non-standard capitalisations like their site name and insisted on using KoreaBang, they won me over that koreaBANG is the way to write it.

Jon: I’ve seen one or two sites in the past that existed to provide translations of Korean news articles, but I honestly couldn’t remember where they are now. Why is it important to do this? And for that matter, how often do you guys get criticised for making Korea look bad?

James: We get criticised for making Korea look bad all the time — but that’s hardly surprising. If you read or watch mainstream English-language media in Korea, things can look pretty rosy. Provided you’re entertained by images of foreigners wearing Hanbok, the history of kimchi, or are prepared to read headlines dominated by Apple vs Samsung, PSY and Dokdo, the impression you can be left with is fairly one-dimensional and, sadly, vastly divorced from what really makes Korea a dynamic and interesting place to live in and learn about.

The problem seems to stem from the fact that there’s perhaps still a feeling in Korea that the rest of the world doesn’t understand it, so it’s important to present the right kind of image internationally, especially when so few non-Koreans speak Korean. Therefore, something like koreaBANG — that cuts through all the usual stories to find what’s actually of interest to normal Koreans — probably exposes aspects of Korean society that some people would rather never made it ‘out there,’ to an international audience.

But the thing is, the kind of seemingly sensationalist or bizarre articles that can sometimes dominate koreaBANG are not too different to the nonsense that, for example, dominates British and American tabloids all the time. We pull back the curtain bit on Korean culture that cuts a little bit deeper than the superficial level most people who don’t speak Korean would otherwise end up engaging with.

If anyone reads our site and decides that Korea is a bad place, they’re probably just using it to confirm to themselves some deep-seated prejudice they already had in the first place.

Our format is simple: we check the Korean Internet for the most-talked about or shared stories, and we translate them. Yes, we choose what gets published, but we’re making our selection from a very small pool of sources. In reality, it’s Koreans who choose what articles get pushed to the top of the news rankings; we just choose the most interesting ones from that short list, particularly ones that we think will have a more global appeal (e.g. a story about a postman saving a couple from a house fire is going to have more international appeal than a story about some K-pop starlet sleeping her way to the top).

Jon: I’m not even sure I’d call KoreaBang a blog, but it does certainly seem to be a part of the blogosphere, geared toward providing blogworthy content for others. Would you call KoreaBang a blog, or not?

James: We’re not a blog in the same sense that, say, the Marmot’s Hole or Ask a Korean is a blog. We try not to pass judgement on the content of any of our articles, and rarely do we inject our own opinion into things or share any aspects of our private lives with our readers. In this sense, koreaBANG doesn’t really have a ‘personality’ — it’s the content that does the talking. We’re also not a news website. We are what we are: a group of like-minded, multilingual individuals who translate articles from the Korean Internet into English.

Raphael: In one word: no. A blog is a website on which a user shares his or her views and opinions. That’s definitely not what we are. I’d like to think of koreaBANG as a small mirror, albeit a rather small mirror, of the Korean Internet.

Eat Your Kimchi

Eat Your Kimchi is a pretty big deal now, so I wasn’t sure they’d give me the time of day. But Simon wrote back to me extremely quickly, either the quickest response or a close contender with KTLIT’s Charles. They ended up being the only video blog I spotlighted, mainly because I’m still a little unclear on the difference between a YouTube account and an actual video blogger. Simon cleared that up for me fairly well.

Jon: There’s blogging, and then there’s videoblogging. One’s reading, one’s watching. On the surface they couldn’t be any further apart than newspaper and TV. Is a videoblog still a blog? How does it all fit together?

Simon: Well, we kinda do both. We do videos, but then we write blog posts for each of our videos as well. It’s not mutually exclusive for us. We actually create our longer blog posts for a different audience. YouTube is where we host our videos, and where we get most of our views. Comments there are very disconnected from one another and very reactionary. For our blog, eatyourkimchi.com, we post our thoughts in longer format via a written blog post. There, the discussions are connected, more thorough and thought out. People write responses longer than our original blog post, respond to each others long comments, and carry on a very civil, intelligent discussion. So, different strokes for different folks, I guess

Jon: I understand you guys have opened up a studio and launched your blog as a company. What’s it like to do this professionally?

Simon: It’s great! It comes with a lot more responsibility now, though. We have a studio to rent, and staff to pay, while before it was just us in our apartments dorking around. It feels a lot more legitimate for us now, more solidified. So many blogs we know are transient: unless they’re in Korea for life, they post sporadically, and then fade away when they leave the country. For us, having a studio, being officially registered, makes it feel like it’s real for us, like it’s solidified. It was difficult for us to feel like we had a place in Korea, having neither a Korean spouse or Korean blood, but now that we have a Korean business, we feel like we’re somewhat more a part of this country now, you know? Ah. This question’s too big for us to answer. “What’s it like” can have us writing answers for hours!

Ask a Korean!

I wanted to include Ask a Korean!, an intensely entertaining site partly due to the questions asked of The Korean, and partly due to his well-reasoned answers. And yes, he is anonymous and prefers to be credited just as The Korean.

Jon: I was a bit surprised to see the “Ask a ___” blog is a fairly common thing, with about ten linked from your site. What gave you the idea to put one together?

The Korean: The granddaddy of all “ask” blogs is ¡Ask a Mexican! by Gustavo Arellano, who now has a syndicated column. I was directly inspired by him, and we have exchanged a few questions and answers about Koreans and Mexicans, actually.

Jon: How many questions do you get? What are the most popular topics?

The Korean: I get 5 to 10 questions a day. Korean pop culture and finding a Korean date are definitely the most popular questions, although I am always pleasantly surprised by the range and depth of the questions.

Korean Indie

I recently interviewed Anna for a Korea.net article on the KMAs, and I knew she’d be up for answering again. Her site, co-authored with Chris Park and co-founded with Mark Russell, has become the best current resource for indie music in Korea. Their site is also in a webzine format, but their front page is a weird bundle of encapsulated story links whose order I’ve never really been able to make sense of. So, is it a blog? Anna seemed more attached to the format than Chincha and the koreaBANG guys.

Jon: Would you consider Korean Indie a blog? It certainly doesn’t have a newest-at-the-top blog format. Or maybe it’s easier to see it as a news site about music that has a blog section? I’ve found it interesting how this pseudo-magazine format seems to be slowly replacing the more simple chronological blog style, and I think sites like yours are a good example of that.

Anna: To me Korean Indie is still very much a blog, even though Chris [Park] and I tend to talk about it in terms of “the news blog” and “the main site.” Our ambition when creating it went far beyond what we’ve been able to achieve so far — partly because we’re just two people doing it in what little spare time we can find, partly because neither of us possess the web design skills to design what we would actually like to have — and perhaps that also explains why I see it as a blog more than anything else. I do very much like the pseudo-magazine format, however, and when we do get around to changing the layout I believe that’s the direction we’ll go in. The pseudo-magazine format not only helps bloggers to promote contents they think should be highlighted, but when done right also makes it easier for readers to find the contents they are more interested in — a win for all!

Jon: The amount of interest in Korean music has definitely picked up in recent years. There are dozens of sites covering K-pop, but still considerably less about Korean indie. And most of it seems to be a small corner or occasional feature on K-pop sites. Do you feel like Korean Indie remains the authority on Korean indie music, or is it slowly being lost in a sea of increasing voices?

Anna: It is very flattering to think that Korean Indie would’ve ever been some sort of authority on Korean indie music, so thank you very much for the question! We do still consider ourselves fans more than anything and it is our love for the music that drives us. I’m always happy to see more indie coverage also from K-pop sites yet I think Korean Indie could use a lot more competition from sites with a similar focus. I’ve heard that there are plenty of Tumblrs with some sort of focus on Korean indie music, but I know next to nothing about that world myself. What I can say is that even with the increased interest in Korean indie music I don’t know of any other source in the traditional blogosphere that does the same thing as we do at Korean Indie.

The Korean Law Blog

I could imagine anyone who works as a lawyer wouldn’t have much time for blogging. That probably explains why The Korea Law Blog‘s Sean Hayes was so brief in his responses. If this is cutting into his blogging time, then that’s no problem. This whole article would’ve been a lot easier if everyone else were this brief.

Jon: How do you make time to keep your blog updated when you’re a full-time lawyer?

Sean: I find blogging to be fun and, thus, I try to give it a minimum of five hours each week. I pencil in the 5 hours to my schedule and, normally, I don’t spend less than 5 hours per week.

Jon:Yours is one of the few professional blogs I’ve found in Korea. How do the two things influence each other? Does your blog help your professional career?

Sean: I realize that very little useful information is available on law in Korea, thus, I consider the blog not, only, a hobby, but a service to Korea.

ZenKimchi

ZenKimchi was hard for me to categorise, as I could’ve placed it in the niche blog section or the long-term section. Joe’s answer about why he decided to stay in Korea reminded me of why I stick around this country too, even if it has little to do with food.

Jon: It must be exciting having blogged about Korean food for the past ~ten years, and seeing the great leaps it’s made in that time, both in in popularising abroad and in globalising domestically. How has it been watching this happen?

Joe: When my first year was coming to a close in Korea, I decided to stay for the long term. I had seen so much change happen in one year that I realized that this was one of those eddies where history was happening. I wanted to witness it for myself. I’m glad I have. Korea has seriously gone from follower to leader. It’s happened so fast that self confidence is still catching up. I think “Gangnam Style” was the point where the confidence has started settling in. Korean food is now more popular than it’s ever been. Korean companies are respected for making quality products. I even begrudgingly admit that Korean pop culture has made some serious strides. And as a food blogger, I have seen the dining scene, especially its internationalization, increase dramatically. We still have a good ways to go.

Jon: These days food bloggers are 100 won a dozen. You see people everywhere taking pictures of what they’re eating. What do you do differently that keeps ZenKimchi ahead of the pack?

Joe: I treat each post as a magazine article. I also try to just keep things going. That’s the biggest challenge for bloggers. They start out fast and peter out before a year is up. These days my network and resources are much better, so it’s easier to find out about what’s going on in the industry. I’m also not afraid (mostly) to say something controversial. I have a good many trolls, conspiracy theorists, and haters. Some say I hate Korea. Others say I’m a Korea apologist. But really, what I do every time I’m out and see something, I think, “Is this blogworthy?” Is it interesting? Entertaining? Informative? Food writing is not some snobby exercise in judging food. That’s dull and pretentious. It’s about reeling in your readers and letting them experience the food. If people walk away entertained, I’ve done my job.

Seoulistic

I didn’t interview Seoulistic, but my coworker who runs the Korea Blog had met up with its writer Keith to talk about something unrelated, and she came up with two questions for him.

Coworker: You are relatively new to the Korea-related blogosphere, however your website seems to be going strong. Why is this?

Keith: I think it’s because I also have YouTube videos. Most blogs just have text but not too many videos. I try to do both :) also a lot of my traffic is from google search because I try to write about what people are searching for (ex best time to visit Korea, famous galbi restaurants in Seoul, etc). And of course social networking. Some of my videos/posts go semi-viral (150 years worth of pictures of Korea, the Namdaemun video). I like to add a bit of personality to the posts and videos, to make it more fun. not just information

Coworker: What do you hope to achieve in the coming years?

Keith: Build the site into a business and make a living from it :) that will probably include selling travel books, maybe providing services (tourism), etc.

 

I also spoke to the main contributor of ROK Drop, known only as GI Korea, as well as Michael Hurt, the guy behind both Scribblings of the Metropolitician and FeetManSeoul, but we were unable to schedule interviews due to a number of logistical issues ranging from public affairs to fashion shows. There were also a number of blogs that never responded to me, so if you think your blog is missing from this list, check your spam folder.

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About the Author

Jon Dunbar

Jon Dunbar is an editor and staff writer for Korea.net. His first visit to Korea was in summer 1996 when he was a teenager, and he returned permanently in December 2003. He is involved in the Korean underground music scene and has supported local musicians through writing, photography, and occasionally planning events. He has been blogging for more than a decade, mainly on music, urban exploration, and his cats