Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Whither Korean Rum Diary?

It might surprise some of you that I enjoyed wandering over to Korean Rum Diary from time to time. Though I never met the man behind KRD, he seemed an alright chap to me, a bit of a diamond in the rough who was putting finger to keyboard to vent his frustrations about Korea.

So it was a bit dismaying to see that KRD decided to pack up the blog when he left South Korea sometime this past month. There were a lot of interesting posts and comments that no one can access now, and that's too bad. There isn't even an email address through which I can contact him to ask these questions.

And this gets into the philosophical problem about what to do when one no longer is able to or wants to continue a blog. Is it right to just delete it, to treat it as if it never existed? Frankly, I think that's a bit unfair to readers, especially those who took the time to leave comments. While they (we) know the risks of leaving a comment on someone else's blog, the blog owner should consider that he/she is eradicating others' words as well.

I've seen this blog shutdown with quite a few that I enjoyed or commented frequently on. Jodi's Asia Pages was one (actually, she shut down her Blogspot blog and then later turned her Wordpress blog into a "protected" blog), while Richardson's DPRK Studies has a "signing off" sign on it.

By contrast, blogs like Plunge Pontificates live on despite years of inactivity (and if you read here, you'll know why I'm glad the blog continues).

I suspect Jodi may have started to feel antsy that some nasty detractors were using some of her less-than-positive posts against her in her professional realm, but I don't see the point in Richardson's case. There were some excellent posts there that will only be accessible if the Wayback Machine gods are aligned just right. As for Korean Rum Diary, I have no idea why he pulled all the pictures off the wall.

So erstwhile K-bloggers, what's up with that? Any chance you'll let us stroll down memory lane again?


  1. I didn't like him. Reminded me of a young Gerry Bevers.

  2. KRD was on the edge of the Dark Side, looking to cross back over.

    Gerry Bevers was on the Dark Side and liked it there because he kept getting anonymously groped.

  3. On KRD:

    I felt the same way. Toward the end he was getting death threats and nasty pictures emailed to him from certain elements of the Korean community (the most vehement from the diaspora, I think) for his harsh criticisms of Koreans. In the end it was more trouble than it was worth, and it was beginning to affect him on some level. I also think around the time he bought the bike he began to see things differently and matured somewhat - that righteous indignation gave way to "meh - who gives a fuck" - combined with the fact his impending exit from Korea was drawing closer and closer.

    When I asked him what was the deal, he replied thus (I don't think he'd mind reproducing the content of a private email in this context) :

    I'll keep writing. In fact, I've got a bunch of fucking articles to finish up that are well beyond deadline. I am, however, a little sick of writing about Korea. When I started the blog it was funny, but quickly became repetitive and boring. But that's what happens... I'm moving on to new things, hopefully.

    If you'd like his real email, let me know and I'll pass it on. He does indeed still write, however less frequently than on KRD, and obviously about other topics.

  4. Well, like I said, I can understand stopping, but don't see the point of deletion. Yeah, I wouldn't mind having his address, although I was hoping he'd drop by my blog and see this post (I know he was at least an occasional visitor before).

    I started paying attention to his blog around the time he was "maturing," when his criticisms of the place seemed a bit more balanced. It helped, I suppose, that he was encountering more Koreans than just the ones at work or on public transport.

    If you encounter the wrong people on a regular basis, any place can seem unwelcoming. As I alluded here, there are some days I really get a hate-on for Honolulu, even though Hawaii overall is a very nice place and most of the people are all right. But the driving conditions, the potholes, and the ethnic tension just below the surface are all a bit grating. (I haven't written about some of my run-ins or close calls that could have gotten physical with folks of a certain ethnicity I don't share in a neighborhood where they predominate and don't welcome outsiders; and when I mean "physical" I'm talking about getting my ass kicked by people dozens of kilos heavier than I.)

    And having been on the receiving end of real-world threats from people who didn't like what I wrote online (and not just once), I can understand his qualms about continuing in light of death threats.

    At the risk of sounding grossly insensitive, however, I wonder about the authenticity of such threats. I have it on good authority that the infamous ATEK death threat was perpetrated by a native English speaker in the United States, not a KoKo as it was purported to be.

    Some people like to do things like that for shits and giggles, but even if that were the case, I doubt KRD was in the know about it and it wouldn't seem any less real to him. In fact, a threat-making non-KoKo posing as a KoKo might even feel they have to make good on the threat in order to make it look convincing.

    In my own case, the people who went after me on different occasions were mostly non-kyopo foreigners in the US, though once there were two kyopo who decided they needed to take me down (they were egged on by a non-kyopo American). To my knowledge, I've never had a KoKo make threats to me or go after me in real life, even though I've written some very unorthodox things.

  5. I don't think it's immoral to shut down a blog, since after all, he has made no promises nor contracts of any kind, and you have only benefited from its existence.

    What would strike me as immoral, or verging on immoral (although legal), would be doing his level best to prevent any copies from being made. (A dog in the manger.) Say, via his robots.txt file. Fortunately, I don't see any categorical bans in so I suppose we can expect KRD to show up at*/ in a few months.

  6. He's not hard to find. He's only keeping his "professional" blog up-to-date nowadays. I left a couple of comments on it over the last day or so, and he's responded rather quickly.

    You can contact him at: editor (at) beatdom (dot) com

    At least that's what he has listed under the contact banner.


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