London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Jennifer Barclay featured on BBC Radio 4

Jennifer Barclay
Jennifer Barclay (photo: Peter Padley for Summersdale Publishers)

LKL contributor Jennifer Barclay was on Sandi Toksvig’s Excess Baggage this morning, talking about kimchi, modern Korean history, and living and traveling in Korea. She was joined by Julian Appleby, who has recently returned from a stint of English language teaching there.

Meeting Mr Kim coverAs ever with these programmes, there was an ulterior motive involved: Jennifer’s book, Meeting Mr Kim, or how I went to Korea and learned to love kimchi, has hit the printing presses and will be in the shops in August. Jennifer’s pleasantly relaxed style came across well in the interview, though she was unable to persuade Sandi Toksvig to have second helpings of the kimchi she brought into the studio.

There will be a book review on this site in due course, but with the great quotes from Simon Winchester and Margaret Drabble below, the book shouldn’t need any endorsement from me.

Here’s the publisher’s publicity materials:

Feeling burned out professionally after turning 30, Jennifer Barclay had a hankering to experience something different. So when her drummer boyfriend landed a contract to play funk music in Seoul, she quit her job and went to South Korea. But life in Seoul was lonely and bewildering; she realised that people hadn’t come here for pleasure for a long time.

Desperate to connect with Korean life and people, Jennifer left the capital and wandered the country alone, and found herself at ancient tombs and Buddhist temples and on empty mountains, and people’s kindness and pride in their culture began to work magic. They were on a mission to ensure she left with happy memories.

Meeting Mister Kim scratches the surface of South Korea, revealing a people full of passion and good humour.

‘It is high time that a new book be written about Korea, and Jennifer Barclay’s fresh, amusing and light-hearted take on the country seems to be precisely the right approach.’ Simon Winchester

‘Brilliantly evokes the strangeness of Seoul for a western visitor — a very lively account — So little is written about South Korea, and there is so much to see and to interpret … invaluable and entertaining reading for any prospective visitor.’ Margaret Drabble

‘One woman’s touching and humorous voyage to the very heart of Korea, a country of great diversity, spirituality and charm. It is written with real insight and thoughtful reflection.’ Anna Nicholas

Make sure you get a copy. It’s not often that there’s a piece of travel literature about Korea, so this will be essential reading.


  • Excess Baggage Homepage (thanks for the link!)
  • Click here to listen to the programme on the BBC site (probably will only work for one week. Jennifer’s feature is 15 minutes into the programme)
  • Pre-order Meeting Mr Kim at (it’s not yet listed on the US site)
  • Click here for an archive of Jennifer’s articles for LKL

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