Happy Year of the Tiger to our listeners! Our first podcast of the year is with journalist and business trends researcher Crystal Tai. She talks about her work across East Asia, the challenges of working as a non-visible “foreign correspondent” in South Korea, and how culture can reveal geopolitical tensions between countries around the world. The conversation is hosted by Joanna Chiu, our intrepid founder who has returned from book leave!
Crystal has been based in South Korea and Hong Kong as a journalist since 2010. Just a few of her memorable stories include ones where she infiltrated a K-pop training academy to report on the behind-the-scenes of the industry; navigating the -30 C streets of Ulaanbaatar to report on Mongolia’s street style scene; and speaking to students and frontline workers during the 2019-2020 Hong Kong Protests.
Crystal’s book, Honjok, co-written with an American sociologist, is a work of nonfiction that takes a look at South Korea’s fascinating new solo-lifestyle movement.
Crystal recommends These Are Not Gentle People by Andrew Harding, a book about a double murder which took place six years ago in South Africa, as well as Stories of the Sahara by Sanmao (trans. by Mike Fu), a collection of travelogues by a famed Taiwanese writer and explorer.
Joanna recommends People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, a fun romance novel, and We Two Alone, a collection of short stories dramatizing the Chinese diaspora across the globe over the past hundred years, by Jack Wang.
Both Vancouverites, Joanna and Crystal recommend hiking. Joanna also recommends snow-shoeing!