They tell me that white is black
and black, they say, is white
Whether it’s white, or be it black
nobody thinks I’m right
Better not notice anything
my eyes and ears shut tight
Kim Su-jang (1690-?). Translation adapted from Master Sijo Poems From Korea, Classical and Modern, selected and translated by Jaihiun Joyce Kim. Seoul: Si-sa-yong-o-sa Publishers, 1982 The (unKorean) rhymes are mine.
Ignoring the poet’s sound advice, I now make my living writing about his country. It was not ever thus. For over 20 years I was a university lecturer – professor, in the US and Korean usage – specializing in the sociology of Third World development. (But how can you ‘specialize’ in anything as big and vague as that? Indeed. So I stopped.)
Through this, having started out in Africa, I got interested in Korea. (How that came about is embarrassing; but if you must know, click on Confession.) Like Topsy, this interest just growed: I was hooked. There is no more fascinating country on earth. Yet Korea remains too little known, and too often misunderstood. For business, while the vibrant South offers opportunity, the dire North is a reminder of continuing risk.
I started writing about Korea as a sideline in the early 1980s. The sideline grew, until in 1993 an offer to write a monthly business report on North Korea enabled me to go part-time at Leeds University. That venture sadly ended in 1997, but by then I was hooked on the freelance life – and disenchanted with how UK universities had succumbed to <a href=”anti_audit.html“>mad managerialism</a>. So I took a deep breath and took early retirement in November 1997. Since then I have been a full-time freelance writer and consultant on Korea, plus a few other sidelines here and there. Lecturer; Broadcaster; Consultant; Examiner.
I never expected this, and continue to feel amazed, deeply grateful, and unqualified. I know far too little Korean language and have never lived in Korea, though I’ve visited about 20 times so far. To compensate for these gaps, for years now I’ve spent most of my waking hours reading or writing about Korea. So I hope I know a bit. (And yes, I prefer British understatement to the more fashionable American-style braggadocio.)
Anyway, for over a decade I’ve been the main writer on Korea for two of the UK’s top purveyors of knowledge to business: the Economist Intelligence Unit and Oxford Analytica. I also write regularly for Enterprise LSE and Asia Intelligence (no contemporary -2019 – link found).
In the public domain, I have a weekly ‘Pyongyang Watch’ column at Asia Times Online; and a quarterly round-up of north-south relations at the online journal Comparative Connections. (For a full list of my main outlets, click <a href=”employrers.html“>Employers</a>; for samples of my writing, click <a href=”aidan_foster_carter_web_links.html“>Samples</a>.)
But you can have me too. I’m always open to fresh offers. Writing is my mainstay, be it one-off or on a regular basis. But I’m also available for consultancy, lectures, broadcasts – even cabaret. For further details, click so <a href=”hire_me.html“>hire me!</a> And whether you hire me or not, I hope you enjoy the site. Much more important, I hope you enjoy Korea.