Sunday, March 08, 2015

Ave, Young!

My friend Young Jin Chun, no longer blogging under the pseudonym Holden Beck (I'd written about my first meeting with him here), has finished with his old blog and started a new one: Young Chun. I wish him and his new blog the best of luck.

The big news is that Young has self-published his memoir, The Accidental Citizen-soldier, whose manuscript he'd made available to me a while back. The book is available on Amazon Kindle; click this link to see the entry for it.

Young is now in the promo phase for this book. If you're a reader of the Hairy Chasms, and you're also a podcaster or vlogger who might be interested in interviewing Young and hearing more of his harrowing story, I hope you'll get in contact with him and help him spread the word. I think Young's book deserves a wide readership, and I've been quietly suggesting to him that he needs to get it translated into Korean because Koreans will likely gobble his story up. Some might be infuriated by the picture of Korea that the narrative paints; others—many more, I think—will nod in understanding, having gone through the same travails.

What travails? you ask. Well, Young's memoir is about his having gone through the nightmare of obligatory military service in the ROK Army—this despite being an American citizen. The book describes Young's arrival in Korea as an English teacher; it tells of how the Korean government informed him that he was, in fact, a Korean citizen, which made him eligible for military service. The story then moves to Young's attempts to escape this duty, his eventual rounding-up by Korean Immigration right as he was about to step on a US-bound plane... and the looming nightmare of basic training, followed by a stint in Afghanistan, where Korean soldiers on base weren't allowed to carry around live ammo.

What made all of this worse was that Young knew almost no Korean at the beginning. (Nowadays, Young teaches English at a major Korean university and also does professional translation work, his Korean having improved by leaps and bounds.) Confusion and incomprehension are underlying themes throughout the entirety of Young's story, a story that Young tells with equal measures of sadness and humor.

I found Young's memoir gripping—the petty conflicts, the stupid daily routines, the frequent humiliation, and even the clever ways in which Young, despite his linguistic deficits, figures out how to game the system. I highly, highly recommend Young's book to you, especially if you've got a Kindle or have Kindle Reader installed on your phone (if not, install it for free). I'd love to see his work read far and wide by a diverse readership after the hell he went through; it's the least that Young deserves. There ought to be some sort of karmic payoff for all that misery, wouldn't you agree?

Buy Young's book and get set for an unbelievable story.



John from Daejeon said...

I'll definitely add it to my very long reading list, but it will be a while before I get to it as the next "Twilight/Hunger Games/Harry Potter" series will be hitting the big screen with Chloë Grace Moretz as the star within the year. Sadly, the "5th Wave" series is so good, I'm now reading all of Rick Yancey's previous works.

John (I'm not a robot) said...

Well, he just sold a copy to me. I'm anxious to give it a read and see if it answers my questions--like how the fuck can a U.S. citizen be drafted into a foreign army without the American government intervening on his behalf? Hell, at the very least they should have let him serve as a KATUSA. Anyway, it sounds like a good tale.

Heh, I was just going to suggest you post your review on Amazon because the one that I saw pissed me off, notwithstanding the 5 star rating. Oh, I am so weary of the liberal claptrap about "micro-aggressions" and "hierarchical social structures". Although to be fair, that's basically the fuel that drives the military I suppose. I'm glad to see your review is now there as well, it is much better!

Thanks for calling this story to my attention.

Kevin Kim said...

Daejeon John,

Good luck working your way through your ever-growing list.

John Mac,

That first review was by one of Young's closest friends. Joel used to blog at About Joel, and yeah, he's a lefty. But I bet *Young* likes his review a lot.

Frank said...

I've been looking forward to this book; just ordered it for my tablet.