Sunday, August 03, 2008

Meeting Mr Right?

Mini-Book Review.
Jennifer Barclay's new travelogue of Southern Korea, Meeting Mr Kim or How I Went to Korea and Learned to Love Kimchi is a white western woman's glimpse into the nightlife, food and customs of South Korea. Juxtaposing historical references and cultural tid bits in Seoul with the emotional pitfalls of a budding relationship with a drummer in a contracted hotel cover band, the story starts with an teary eyed 'epiphany' in a soulless Toronto airport and swiftly heads east. Jennifer Barclay has a keen eye for the relationships between men and women. Central to the story is Gav, her new boyfriend, Shawna, the lead singer of the doomed Good Vibes, and the band leader, Dean, decked-out in shiny suits which he thinks will finally win the band the break they need. The part I liked best was the growing relationship between Jennifer and Gav (and the incessant skeptical observations of the doomed cover band!) but the narrator's genuine love of the temples and hill sides around Seoul makes for a great distraction from the daily ups and downs of newly formed relationships. There are great facts thrown in about good Korean restauraunts in London and cultural do's and don'ts in Seoul and this book would make a great addition to a Lonely Planet guide of Korea. The narrative is warm and the message is a familiar but good one: it is never too late to drop a comfortable job and take on a new adventure.

Taking the Stairs, Chapters 8 and 9

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