“Expats in Asia” at Slate.com

Slate’s “Dispatches” column recently featured a four part series from Rolf on the expat scene in Busan, South Korea, where he spent a few years teaching English in the late 90s. By day, Rolf covers the Pusan International Film Festival (one of Asia’s biggest), but as the sun sets he heads out into the expat-heavy nightlife district to discover what has changed in his eight year absence. Though he finds that much of the physical landscape has been updated, the familiar expat scene remains a thriving subculture in South Korea’s largest seaport city.

“Before long, I’m drinking a beer and chatting with a table full of Canadian English teachers. All of them, it turns out, are in debt from college, worried that they aren’t living up to their self-perceived notions of mid-20s success, and embroiled in a love-hate relationship with Korea.”

As it turns out, it is this backdrop that is center-story to director Wonsuk Chin’s new comedic film, Expats, about expatriate life in Busan—with a dash of crime and mystery tossed in, Hollywood-style. Several years ago, the then-researching Chin contacted Rolf after reading his Salon.com piece on expatriate life in Busan, and they’ve remained in communication ever since. Over the commotion of the festival, the two duck into a hotel to chat about the script in progress.

“The teacher expats who come here see Korea in a unique way,” says Chin. “They aren’t isolated like soldiers or businessmen; they’re working right in the middle of the culture. They’re young, and they’re going through a transitional time of life. They’re more likely to throw themselves into new experiences.”

These experiences, Rolf finds, are quite familiar (minus the crime, of course), and the introspective attempt to reconnect the dots of his past in Busan—complete with indoor fishing with a former student, and a quest for a set of Russian triplets—form the setting for the four part dispatch which made its debut early last week.

The final installment was posted on Friday, so head over to Slate.com to read in full.

“Expats in Asia,” by Rolf Potts for Slate.com in parts: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Posted by | Comments (1)  | October 30, 2006
Category: Travel News

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