This wonderful letter from a long-time customer made our month. Thanks, Mark, for letting us repost!
Margaret, Sue, John, Wendy, and Co.,
GOOD MORNING from MunGyeong City Korea, a small, remote mountain city ensconced somewhere in the middle of small South Korea. I’ve now been here nearly four months and loving every minute. I recently concluded that Korea is one of the gems in Eastern Asia. It has remarkable scenery, which is painted differently in all four seasons, infinitely generous people, palatable food, and strikingly beautiful woman. I think heaven, if it exists, must comprise of a supernal being and a bunch of Korean woman, ha ha.
I’ve been assigned to teach at the local private all-girls’ high school, which has been a treat I look forward to every day. It would be an understatement to say they study hard. They rise at seven and many nights study until 10 or 11 pm. Their vacation consists of school everyday from eight to five and the seniors eight to ten. It’s inspiring to watch these students labor. In Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book he talks about the scholastic advantages Asians tout over Westerners and indeed hard work is the foundation of this advantage as Gladwell argues. Not to mention they don’t have a summer vacation which I have realized is a total disadvantage to all western students.
I just finished Margaret’s great recommendation River Town, Peter Hessler‘s story of volunteering in China as a College English teacher (John will love that he taught them Cervantes!). Although our stories are quite different, highlighted by his small city deeply rooted in Communist China, I found many poignant resemblances that all Westerns must feel to a certain extent traveling around Asia (especially in these smaller towns; I am only the second foreign teacher to teacher here). The book was well written, funny, and littered with interesting ideas.
Korea is a developing country that struggles with progressive ideas and progressive movements, but they are a country that has the potential and intellect coupled with a dauntless work ethic that will serve them in their global struggle. I love it here. But I miss Salt Lake and you guys.
I love The King’s English. I’ve already plowed through all the books I brought and wish I had $200 and an hour scanning your shelves. I am interested in some good Asian history books from 1600-present or maybe even 1900-present. I also need a good readable book on Confucianism: any ideas?
Thanks again for being great friends and providing Salt Lake with an independent local book store. Down with Barnes & Nobles!! Screw ’em!
Peace & Love,