Welcome to Turning East.
This website features oral histories–that is, recorded interviews which were edited to be read but also to retain the language of the individual storyteller, whose name was sometimes changed to preserve her or his privacy. I started collecting these stories after I arrived in China in 1984. Almost all are set in China, Korea, Japan or the Philippines and center on different topics: religion, commerce, education, home life, economics, politics, health care and life on the road. Occasionally I include a story of my own.
You can access posts by using the links on the right, listed under China, Japan, Korea, Philippines and Elsewhere. Or visit the index page (link in upper right-hand corner of this green section) for a listing which provides title, date of publication, year of interview and a very short summary. Or use the archives. For almost five years I posted roughly every two weeks. I’m now posting approximately every three weeks so I have more time for book manuscripts.
It is now possible to leave comments and read the comments of others by clicking the Facebook button to enter the site via Facebook. Please do.
Over ten of the years I was teaching at Dongguk University in Seoul, I wrote and used a two-semester textbook based on the Korea interviews in this site. Each of the full-length chapters includes a reading selection on Korean and American interaction, exact definition of key terms, reading and discussion questions, listening tasks, grammar exercises/word study based on the reading selections and crossword puzzles using the vocabulary of the reading selections. Two additional chapters contain a reading selection for discussion or a writing assignment. PDF files of all eighteen chapters and a supplement are available on the textbook page so teachers can use them. Just don’t republish, please.
“Listening to Famine in North Korea” is an interview with Dr. Sandra Fahy on the famine in North Korea, the subject of her first book. A video taped interview on her book in progress on human rights in Korea is available here.