Ask Joshing Gnome for Wednesday, June 11, 2008

David asks:

Hey, Joe, I’m an American filmmaker moving to Seoul next month to teach English to kids. Is it easy for Americans to get around over there? Is it fun?

Dear David,

Yes, Korea is very easy to get around.  There are extensive subway systems in the major cities and as long as you learn to read basic Korean you will be able to go anywhere on the bus.  Korea is indeed quite fun, with bars on every corner, plenty of historical sites to see, some good restaurants and fun-loving people.

That said, I ask you seriously consider what you film here.  As you are no doubt aware, the United States’ artist supply is far out of whack with demand.  This is a topic I tackled in one of my very first posts.  As a result, there are already a lot of filmmakers in Korea teaching English to children.  I think they are wise, in that they come here to get exposed to something that may set them apart from the throngs of others like them.  The important thing for you to remember is that all of these people who have gone before you have tread the same streets and many of them have come up with the same shallow observations and interpretations time and time again.

My recommendation to you: try to capture the other foreigners around you rather than focusing on the Koreans until you’ve been here a few years.  It seems to me that a lot of foreigners here turn their attentions to Korean culture when they in fact have little chance of understanding it with any insight, whereas some of the most interesting stuff is going on in the heads and actions of the native English teachers of Korea, who are practically your classic characters in search of an author.

Come here with this in mind.  After a few years turn your attention to the Koreans, only after you have something interesting to say about them.

I hope this has been of some help you you, David.  Do enjoy your time in Korea, and by all means let us all see what you film.

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~ by Joshing on June 11, 2008.

4 Responses to “Ask Joshing Gnome for Wednesday, June 11, 2008”

  1. “Is it easy for Americans to get around over there?”

    Nope. Americans have a really hard time getting around here since they are not allowed on public transport like everyone else. However, if you pretend to be from any other country in the world then you will be just fine. 😉

  2. Be nice, Otto, David is not a foreigner yet.

  3. … whereas some of the most interesting stuff is going on in the heads and actions of the native English teachers of Korea, who are practically your classic characters in search of an author.

    Indeed. Or sometimes characters searching for the book they escaped from. I met the vegetarian-evangelical couple from Graham Greene’s The Comedians once, back in Jeolla province. It was eerie, as I was reading the book at the time — I’d signed it out of the library’s small English collection — and I wanted so badly to tell them to read it, in the hope it might help them find their way home.

  4. One of my friends once told me I belonged in either a J.D. Salinger or a Jane Austen novel. I took that as the highest kind of praise.

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