Seoul Man: A Memoir of Cars, Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity Inside a Korean Corporate Titan
Seoul Man is basically two books in one. The first is a “fish out of water” story of a middle-aged American, married later in life, who finds himself living and working in South Korea. It’s a completely different world than the one he knew as a reporter in Washington, D.C.
Much of Korean culture, one focused on society first and individuals second, makes little sense to Western eyes. Plus, the traditional conservatism of the culture appears to now be overrun by a tidal wave of binge drinking. (Koreans now consume the most alcohol of any people on the planet.) Still, this part of the true account is fun and entertaining.
Not so entertaining is the part of the book where Ahrens writes about the corporate culture at Hyundai Motor, about his Christian beliefs, and about the time spent away from his wife and baby daughter. In fact, a chapter about Indonesia adds nothing while detracting from the natural narrative style. It should have been dumped.
There’s not enough within the pages of Seoul Man to classify it as a true business book. It’s definitely a memoir–one that starts off with an exciting bang before it ends on a dull whimper. What a shame.
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