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Seoul Man Audiobook

Seoul Man: A Memoir of Cars, Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity Inside a Korean Corporate Titan

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Jim In Texas! Austin, TX, United States 10-03-16
    Jim In Texas! Austin, TX, United States 10-03-16 Member Since 2009

    I'm just a big kid.

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    "Must read for anyone working Korea!"

    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.

    Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Austin, TX USA 09-27-16
    Amazon Customer Austin, TX USA 09-27-16 Member Since 2009
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    "Good anecdotes about working for a Korean corp"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Biesty 05-19-17 Member Since 2010
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    "Korean Culture Very Cool But Nothing Else"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Only the part about Korean history and culture was cool but really nothing else.


    Has Seoul Man turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Frank Ahrens?

    Not sure


    What else would you have wanted to know about Frank Ahrens’s life?

    Nothing. Heard too much. Could of been summarized in a family Christmas letter.


    Any additional comments?

    First off you could see this author was a good reporter because when he wrote about Korean culture it was very interesting and you could see he did his homework. This part about his book I truly loved and now I want to read more about Korean history. This I thank him for. The rest I could of done without. All his personal life seemed uninteresting and superficial except for how he interacted with Koreans. Even that was a little disappointing with his unwillingness to immerse himself unto Korean culture but at least seemed honest due to it's superficial nature. He should of reserved his personal life for his family/friend Christmas Letters. Everyone I know who also read this felt his personal life was the most uninteresting part of the book. I suggest you fast forward through every one of these chapters. Before reading this book I thought Hyundai was a cool company that turned themselves around. The Elantra is still the best car my wife ever owned. My dad owns the Genesis, loves it and so I wanted to hear about the company in the book. However the author made this a shameless commercial for the company and therefore most of this was very hard to listen to. So if I ever read another book from Frank Ahrens I hope it's not autobiographical or about a company he's associated with. If he want's to write a book about Korean history and keep it just about that I'm in. Otherwise I'm out. Now, thanks to this book, I'm going to watch The Admiral and learn about a Korean Themistocles.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruno Houston, TX, United States 11-28-16
    Bruno Houston, TX, United States 11-28-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Not what I was expecting"

    I did not like the story, and did not think that the author went deep enough into any of the issues. I do not recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BunnyDee 01-03-17
    BunnyDee 01-03-17

    Don't think it hasn't been an little slice of heaven, 'cuz it hasn't.- Bugs Bunny

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    "Uneven"

    It was a struggle to finish this and I found his characterization of his wife being bored with staying home with her child, tone deaf and insulting to those of us who tried for years and could not have children and now cannot afford the insane price of adoption. She should thank God for the privileged life she has and her precious children. I wish there was more on Korean Culture.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    plau 09-03-16
    plau 09-03-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Very Lite"
    Would you try another book from Frank Ahrens and/or Frank Ahrens?

    Probably not


    Would you ever listen to anything by Frank Ahrens again?

    Probably not


    What does Frank Ahrens bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The book is well read.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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