When English Bloggers in Korea Get an Ego Check

You Have A Blog in South Korea – No One Cares


English bloggers in Korea can be special creatures. Let me rephrase, English bloggers who take themselves too seriously about blogging in Korea are ****. Now, before we all jump to conclusions, let me preface this by pointing out that I’m obviously not talking about all bloggers in Korea – only a select few. However, as I delve deeper into this mystical black hole of self-depravity and crushed dreams, I’ve encountered those who fight voraciously for their small piece of cyber space as they vastly over emphasize their importance to Korea, the world, and the day-to-day lives of normal people who might actually follow their blogs.

As a blogger, there is nothing wrong with blogging and writing about topics that matter to the author. For me, Kimchibytes has always been a healthy form of self-expression. Yet recently, I’ve encountered bloggers who take this too far. They say things like, “honesty is the currency of blogging”, “I can’t mislead my readers”, or “I look down upon blogs where people do silly things like write about events or their personal lives.” They get upset because more people look at posts about a fire in Itaewon ( an event of actual substance that impacts a lot of people) as opposed to their efforts on some journalistic endeavor that they think should matter. They tear down events they have never attended and often try to stab the hand of Korea that is reaching out to build bridges with its foreign community. Worst yet, they police other blogs and accuse bloggers of being immoral according to their own self-righteous standards of . . . blogging – are we being serious?

If we were competing newspapers, maybe I’d get this. But hold on, we’re merely English bloggers in Korea. The world doesn’t care about our opinions – especially Koreans.

Most of the old school English bloggers in Korea are pretty awesome people. For the most part, this older school of bloggers really enjoy writing expositions on their personal thoughts, topics they deem newsworthy, cultural milieu, etc. Some great examples include The Grand Narrative and The Marmot’s Hole. Many older blogs in Korea have an editorial/news approach.

When I met Simon and Martina from arguably the most successful English blogging site in Korea, Eat Your Kimchi, they attributed their success to the fact that they did not focus on news and social commentary. Simon and Martina claimed they were successful because they did something different from other bloggers when they began. I agree. Not only do I agree, but I believe numbers don’t lie. They make a living off of blogging because people truly value what they say whether some of us find their videos annoying or not.

However, there are those bloggers who have been in Korea for a while and haven’t been as successful.  Yet, they feel like they are the master’s of their universe with keen insight into the Korean and expat world.   When they discuss their blogs, they talk about loyal followers and how they are good shepherds. They proclaim that they are moderators or administrators of Facebook groups and believe that power really means something or grants them some type of relevant authority.  They only value serious writing, reject anything of conservative nature, and are quick to pass judgement to those who fall below their blogging standards of excellence.  They think that any blogger who receives payment for going to an event or is paid to write an article is forsaking his integrity and risks betraying his faithful followers.  They think when a blogger gets paid, this blogger must inform everyone if he was payed.   If not, the blogger will have to answer to the English blogging gods who communicate with a few musok-ins on Inwang-san.   These vain bloggers honestly think they possess some sort of intellectual, moral, or popular authority and that people should value their opinion because they… have a blog.  As their minds and thoughts focus on the center of their blogging universe, real people in real life are simply passing by unaffected by their fictitious gravitational pull.    

On Kimchibytes, I don’t post hard news. I rarely write serious articles. I am no where close to mastering the Korean language or understanding the culture. I don’t exclude myself from writing about Korea, but I tend to avoid the topic because my point of view is very limited. This is why I cover events, talk about my personal life, and create fun posts like this one about UFO’s. I’m qualified to do these things; I’m unqualified to write about much else.  If I do write something serious, dissecting my articles is a complete and utter waste of time.  I don’t take myself that seriously and either should you.  

I solely write for my own enjoyment and that’s the bottom line. I don’t have time to monitor what other people are doing. This business of looking down upon other bloggers because their topics of interest are more personal or because they haven’t been here in Korea as long should stop. Also, if you blog in Korea and take it too seriously, chances are you’ve suffered massive failures in other parts of your life. Let me humbly state this does not include everyone, but it certainly includes myself.

There are more important things in life to worry about – finding love, continuing education, improving job prospects, and even having a good time. I hereby state that reading English blogs by people who live in Korea will not contribute to self actualization.  If it does, we have a major problem.

The Korean Blog **** List

Korean Underground

Unpopular EYK Opinions





34 thoughts on “When English Bloggers in Korea Get an Ego Check

  1. I don’t really know about the haughty and pretentious natures of blog writers, but I do know one thing–I can’t stand those folks who have lived in Korea a few years and think that they are a know-it-all Sherpa who has a mastery of Korea and it’s culture, people, traditions, and language.


  2. I have a blog that only my mother, sister and aunt read. It’s really for them, because they don’t have Facebook. I have four followers and 2 are Korean. LOL! I agree with Pindleton. I have only been in Korea for 6 months, but I have found that the expats who have been here for a while are the most jaded and least helpful in my perspective. For the most part I avoid foreigners – they live in this weird bubble I have termed the “Vicostize” (believing your a victim, because everything is “culturally different” thereby ostracizing yourself to the general culture and refusing to integrate, which creates a false paradigm of being better than Koreans.


  3. Just for clarification, your original post ended with -“You could be the best English blogger in Korea, and its still like being the smartest kid with down syndrome.” Why the change?


    1. I often post articles then make edits if I feel I made a mistake or can improve my writing. After I posted, I decided to make a change immediately based on feedback (like within 10 minutes.) I change and update articles all the time. There was a quote from the movie Waiting where the character MItch goes on a rant about how deluded all of his co-wokers are at the restaurant. Anyways, the quote was distracting and sometimes when you write something or use something you mean it in a way very differently from how it was perceived. So, I made the change. I mentioned no one by name in this piece, so the fact that other bloggers were desperate enough to find a cached version and try to use what was at worse – an insensitive insult (directed at no particular individual) – against me really just emphasizes problems I see with the blogging community in Korea.

      I was simply stating – You are not special if you have an English Blog in Korea. Also, you are not special enough to police other people and demand answers from other bloggers or try to tell them what to do. If you have a blog, it’s your blog and you can do what you want to.


  4. Eat Your Kimchee are ridiculously successful, yet an atrocity in the face of all things that are decent and holy. Numbers don’t lie? Vanilla Ice sold 11 million records. Doesn’t make his output worth a shit. Same goes with their silly inane crapfest. They leech off the phenomenon of Kpop, which is nothing but a load of corporate, manufactured, fake art. They’re cheerleaders of this nothingness, and get paid accordingly. Good on ’em for finding a niche, even if it’s a totally vapid, assey one. Where’s Al Quaeda when we need them?


    1. Uh, when people hear “Ice Ice Baby” at a club everyone still goes crazy – and even people born after 2000 know all the lyrics. That is one amazing song. That still gets people excited 20 years later.

      On the other hand, Simon and Martina do a lot more than just Kpop. But they’ve set themselves up as the place where the English World goes for Kpop information. Lot’s of music is manufactured, I just don’t think that invalidates what they do because you don’t like the music. They have a lot of love and support and it wasn’t music companies that fronted them 60,000 dollars for a business license, they raised that from their fans in a week – insane.


  5. Simon and Martina were initially successful because 1. they were among the very first to be making any youtube videos about Korea, 2. and then they cashed in on kpop, which was already popular. The fact that they are now literally a business only supports the assertion they wanted to cash in.


  6. Have you never liked something that was already popular Mr. too cool to be mainstream? They have a great site and love what they do. How many people can say that in life? More power to them.


  7. Haha, you sound like an absolute blast to hang out with. Stop, Collaborate and listen, Tharp is back with an incorrect position.

    Yeah, I doubt you go out much, but people love older music and like to have fun and do stuff like dancing. I’m sure you don’t dance either – that’s such a middle school thing to do.

    As far as the name, I took a played out idea and gave it a twist. I like it. I tend to find people who bring up the “kimchi critique” to be the same people who spend their free time trolling Dave’s ESL. Definitely not my type of people.

    I’ve also visited EYK enough to know you have no idea what you’re talking about. They do more than just discuss K-pop. I was a hater till i met them, they are such down to Earth good people.


  8. I think you may have misinterpreted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The point is that we should be at the self-actualisation level but can’t get there without the levels below. So in your pyramid, we all want to be these South Korean English bloggers?

    On the other hand, some of the blogs I read suggest that the writer is stuck at the love and belongingness level (ie, lack of, since family is usually elsewhere) or self-esteem needs level (they feel they are the Other even if they are long termers, their long termedness has made them cynical, etc).

    EYK question: what’s with the innuendo? They have sections with names like F.A.P.F.A.P. (food adventures program for awesome people), D.I.C.K.S. (discussing interesting contemporary Korean slang), and W.A.N.K. (wonderful adventrue now Korea).


  9. So, this is what it feels to be so hot damn bitter in the ROK? Is this what I have to look forward to as I complete my MA and come out of my hiding (studying) spot here in Seoul? Well, how’s this for some opinions: 80% of expat peeps (yes, ET’s) here in Korea are reprehensible, and that hasn’t changed one bit in the last 7 years I’ve been here. If anything, it’s gotten worse due to the increase in popularity in blogging, YouTube, etc. Every douche is now posting dumb crap on a blog and podcast and facebook of just myspace. But, I digress. Instead of supporting one another and people’s individual ventures, ya’ll b***h. I can understand thrashing the EYK crew, however, as their initial venture was illegal in both ROK and CA. But again, I digress. What it comes down to is freedom of speech, and our fundamental rights to blog away about whatever we want, and others trying to suppress that right.


  10. I didn’t list any specific blogs because I didn’t want to start some blogging war. I listed no names, yet a lot of people got upset. Why would they get upset unless I struck a nerve?


  11. I love this post (And interestingly it HAS struck some nerves as based on this comment thread). I agree that people shouldn’t be over judgmental over other people’s blogs. If some are successful enough to earn from it then good for them. They’re getting paid to do something they love.


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