A few acknowledgments concerning my Korean folktale published yesterday on Gwangju News Online and in July's issue of the print edition (PDF here):

- While digging around for information on the Korean mythology featured in my story, I discovered the real Korean folktale of a general named Sineui, who is said to have found himself in similar circumstances. My story owes a few of its details to that one.

- Speaking of influences, writing an involving story within only 1500 words is no easy trick, and so before I tried I naturally looked around for examples of other writers doing it well. Neil Gaiman's short story "Cinnamon", which you can read for free on his site, became my main point of reference; I even rather boldly stole the sentence structure of his first line for my own, though that was the extent of my thieving, I promise.

- The illustration of Yi Deok Chun is by Jen Lee, artist of comic strip "Dear Korea" that's run in multiple publications here in Korea. It's an example of what she can do when you give her absolutely zero notice; you should check out what she's capable of when she has a little time on her hands.

So this was my big writing project for March. When Michael Simning, patron saint of foreigners here in Gwangju, passed away on February 28, I volunteered (read: demanded) to do the the inevitable cover story on him for Gwangju News.

It was cathartic to write. When I heard he had passed, I deeply regretted not getting to know him better during his life, and that sense of loss felt all the worse for feeling somehow unjustified, since we hadn't been close. 

What I realized, however, was that my unfamiliarity with him could be turned into a gift of its own. The attention of your family and friends is love, but the attention of strangers is an honor. So I set out to write an article communicating to our readers why Michael Simning was an objectively valuable individual; while everyone else would pound out their personal feels about him on their keyboards - meaningful thoughts to other members of their circle, but only abstract expressions of grief to passersby - I would prepare an essentially dispassionate piece aimed at helping people who'd never heard of Michael Simning "get" why it's a sad thing he's gone.

I tried. Here is the result. It's far from perfect - I see my mistakes when I look at my old work, believe me - but I think there's honor in it. And yeah, a little love too.

Edit 5/7/2014: Korea's Canadian embassy has run a highly abridged version of this article as their "Canadian Stories" column for their May newsletter.