Back in December I did an interview with Daniel Tudor for Haps. He being the author of Korea: The Impossible Country as well a correspondent covering the peninsula for The Economist and Newsweek. The print version of the piece has been out for a month, but have just gotten around to posting it online.
Along with the interview, Haps has an extended (and quite interesting) excerpt on Shamanism in Korea, from the book.
Tudor, who I found to be frank and engaging in his responses, gave some insight into the book’s “impossible” title –which partially grew out of an interview with a former Park Chung-hee aid who said, “Korea was the poorest, most impossible country on the planet.”
“I love living here, but often, I feel thankful that I’m not part of this society’s rat race,” said Tudor, before segueing into the dual meaning of his book’s title. “I think that this society makes life ‘impossible’ for its citizens in some way, by setting up impossible ideals to live up to, and forcing people to accept a very narrow definition of what ‘success’ can be.”
I did like his quote on the drawbacks of being a foreign reporter here:
“On the downside, people don’t like to be so outspoken here, so that often leads to boring interviews. And if you criticize someone, they are liable to go ape on you. There’s a little over-sensitivity, especially where the foreign press is involved.”
The MH comments section would never go ape though, right?