Korea Life Blog is the most popular blog maintained by an expat living in Korea. I don’t read it often, but my wife is a big fan of Shawn’s blog and follows it along with my own Korea blog. (Yes, she actually reads what I write in my blog. Aside from the fact that sometimes I "sugarcoat things," as she puts it, she generally thinks it’s accurate and enjoys reading it.) She likes the fact that Shawn personalizes his site and does a great job talking about everyday life in Korea as an English teacher. She loves to follow his personal relationship with his girlfriend (sorry, I don’t have any tear jerker stories or salacious soap operas to share). She thinks my site is more intellectual. That’s probably true–I would just as soon talk about investing or pop culture as about Korea. I have to hand it to Korea Life Blog–he does an excellent job describing expat life in Korea, at least from a teacher’s perspective. A U.S. soldier or a Western businessman would have a different point of view, but Shawn does a good job describing Korean culture from a foreigner’s perspective. He puts a lot more effort into his blog than I do. For me, World Adventurers is an evening ritual I enjoy doing at the end of a long day. I sit down at the computer, think about something that may or may not be related to Korea, and then type out my thoughts, do a little editing, and publish it hoping I haven’t made too many errors. Occasionally I will add photos taken from our trips around Korea. Shawn’s site obviously takes a lot more time and effort than mine. In fact, the guy has published a couple of books about his life in Korea. I think they’re a selection of his best blog entries. Shawn’s experience in Korea is much more intimate than mine, partly because of the nature of our purpose for being here. Shawn is an English teacher who interacts personally with Koreans all the time. My experience with Koreans is much more impersonal, and lately I’ve been spending time with a lot of Americans in need here in Korea. Getting to know Koreans personally remains one of my biggest challenges. My own observation about English teachers in Korea is that although their best friends are generally expatriates, they also have many Korean friends and acquaintances. Also, I’m a family man who usually returns home after a long day at work. I have far fewer opportunities to go out and experience Korea like Shawn does. My night life usually consists of playing with my son and working on an ongoing home project.
Now the author of Korea Life Blog has moved on. He recently went to Beijing, China and will probably stay there for awhile. I wonder whether he will return to Korea. He seems to be enjoying himself immensely in China. As someone who knows China well, I can understand why he’s so infatuated with China. Problems such as pollution and Big Brother notwithstanding, China is an awesome place. In a way, I feel a bit like his alter ego. Shawn knows Korea like I wish I knew Korea, and I think he wants to know China like I know China. My lifestyle is also far different than his. I wonder what life would be like if we traded places for a week. I wonder whether he would even do it if he could. If he does stay in China, I wonder whether he will change the name of his blog or start a new one focused on China. That’s why I chose a generic name like "World Adventurers." Korea today, China tomorrow. Only one thing is sure–a year and a half from now, this blog will focus on someplace new. No matter what, this blog will probably never generate 377,000 hits like Shawn’s blog has since September 2004. That’s quite an accomplishment.