When Australian Don Laridis turns 37 he realizes that it’s time for a “real” change. Beset by a few hard life calls and living in a city doused in post-Olympic syndrome, he chooses to relocate to South Korea, a country he knows very little about.
Unbeknownst to him, the plight of the English academy that he’s been recruited for is on the brink of financial collapse. Instead of running he opts to stay, reveling and losing himself in a range of situations that new environments offer.
Laridis teaches English to farm kids, university students, corporate types and housewives – all normal everyday people immersed in an environment that’s driven at times by a mad craving for a 2nd language to help realize one’s dreams, even to the length of murder.
Metaphorically speaking, this factional story reveals the kind of exposure one experiences in foreign lands. It’s realized not just in the curious dynamics of second language classrooms, but also in the kind of characters Laridis meets in a range of places including bars, eating establishments and sordid karaoke rooms.
Bob Blunt peeks into the moral fabric of an unfamiliar culture that’s dealing with Confucius traditions and new found modernity. He narrates, prods, pricks and observes every encounter at a tempo that will hold you in tight step with the central character Laridis.
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Bob Blunt, photographed by Christ Hampson (2006 departing South Korea at Incheon Airport)