Recounting his three years in Korea, the highest-ranking non-Korean executive at Hyundai sheds light on a business culture very few Western journalists ever experience in this revealing, moving, and hilarious memoir.
When Frank Ahrens, a middle-aged bachelor and 18-year veteran at the Washington Post, fell in love with a diplomat, his life changed dramatically. Following his new bride to her first appointment in Seoul, South Korea, Frank traded the newsroom for a corporate suite, becoming director of global communications at Hyundai Motors. In a land whose population is 97 percent Korean, he was one of fewer than 10 non-Koreans in a company of 5,000 employees.
For the next three years, Frank traveled to auto shows and press conferences around the world, pitching Hyundai to former colleagues while trying to navigate cultural differences at home and at work. While his appreciation for absurdity enabled him to laugh his way through many awkward encounters, his job began to take a toll on his marriage and family. Eventually he became a vice president - the highest-ranking non-Korean in the history of Hyundai - but at an untenable price.
Filled with unique insights and told in his engaging, humorous voice, Seoul Man sheds light on a culture few Westerners know and is a delightfully funny and heartwarming adventure for anyone who has ever felt like a fish out of water - all of us.
©2016 Frank Ahrens (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I'm just a big kid.
I was a U.S. Air Force officer, in the early 90s I spent a year serving with the Korean Air Force on a Korean base, far from any U.S. installation.
This book really hit home! I wish I had read it before I went to Korea. Everything Frank says about throwing an 'America Bomb' into a Korean workplace rings 100% true.
I also agree that Korea is hard charging into a better future.
This is a must read for anyone doing business in Asia in general and Korea in particular.
And it's both funny and heartwarming.
I finished this audiobook pretty quickly. It is read by the author, who reads it much better than a different narrator would. His voice is not annoying.
I have lived for a total of over a year in Korea, invest in Korean companies, and many of my friends work for Korean companies. Mr. Ahrens worked for one of the most buttoned-up and traditional large corporations, Hyundai Motor. It's a great outsider-insider's view of Hyundai Motor, and also sheds some interesting insights on the auto indsutry, corporate vs journalist life, expat life in East Asia, getting married for the 1st time as an older male, and experiences acclimatizing to a foreign corporate culture.
Great book and would not hesitate to recommend it. A nitpick is that a lot of the Korean words are mispronounced, but it's really not a big deal.
The book is well read.
This book is pretty shallow and superficial. Very much an average American goes to Korea and learns some predictable and average lessons. I didn't really think it was as funny as the blurb advertised. On a few occasions the author's cultural tone deafness and incuriosity could be considered funny I guess but I was annoyed by that point. Not badly written just not insightful. The reader and audio quality were very good.
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