Kindly grab a box of tissues because this book is the definition of CUTE
I’m not even joking, the amount of serotonin I got from Made In Korea was unreal.
Made In Korea was one of my most anticipated releases for this year and after reading an early copy of it, I can proudly say that it is definitely in the top 10 for my favourite 2021 reads! Everything from the amazingly developed plot and characters to the cute and awkward romance, this book made me want more. I’ve written a more coherent review on Goodreads so if you are interested in my thoughts on this book, you can read them here! I also have a K-pop playlist that I made for Made In Korea which you can check out on Spotify here!
After I finished reading Made In Korea with my friend Katie and sending too many out of context screenshots to my IRLs, I knew I had to interview Sarah, because I simply couldn’t get enough of the book! A huge thank you to Sarah for doing this interview and without further ado, let’s get straight into it!
About The Book
Made In Korea
Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.
Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…
What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.
Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.
But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
Interview with Sarah Suk!
Prutha: Hello Sarah! Thank you for joining me today for this interview. To start it off, give us 5 facts about the MCs in Made in Korea— Valerie and Wes!
Sarah: Thanks for having me! Alright, five facts about Valerie and Wes!
- Valerie has a Hi-Chew flavour for different moods/states of mind – mango to celebrate, grape to focus, green apple to brainstorm, and strawberry to calm down.
- Wes loves to play the saxophone.
- Valerie enjoys thrift shopping.
- Wes is a third culture kid who’s lived in several different places before settling in the Pacific Northwest. His previous homes include Seoul, Tokyo, and Los Angeles.
- Valerie and Wes have competing K-beauty businesses at school. They’re trying really hard to out-sell each other but maybe – just maybe – they might end up falling in love along the way.
Prutha: If Made in Korea was ever to be turned into a K-drama whom would you want to showcase your characters on screen?
Sarah: I think if Made in Korea ever got a screen adaptation, I would love it if new teen actors took up the role of Valerie and Wes. That would be really fun to see! That said, if I had to fan cast for a K-drama, I would probably choose Kim Tae Ri and Woo Do Hwan.
Prutha: What was the best part of writing Made In Korea?
Sarah: My favourite part of writing Made in Korea was getting to know the characters. I did map them out a bit when I was outlining the story, but I feel like they revealed more of themselves to me as I was writing – their likes, their dislikes, their desires, their dreams – and that was really cool to experience. It was almost like they were talking to me and helping me guide the story by saying, “I want this to happen next,” or “I would never do this!”
Prutha: Since music is a huge part of the novel— Wes being a saxophonist, what songs do you think fit Made In Korea’s mood the best?
Sarah: Oh yes, I love music! I actually had a playlist I listened to while writing Made in Korea. Some songs include: Instagram by Dean, Way Back Home by Shaun, Some by BOL4, and Bboom Bboom by Momoland.
Prutha: Valarie’s relationship with her 할머니 (halmeoni: Korean for grandma) is also a main focus of the book. What inspired it?
Sarah: I loved writing Valerie’s relationship with her grandmother. I didn’t grow up close to my grandparents myself. My paternal grandfather passed away before I was born and my paternal grandmother followed when I was quite young. Both my maternal grandparents lived in South Korea so I never got to spend much time with them growing up. But then in university, I spent a semester studying abroad in Seoul and I went to visit them every weekend. I’ve always been drawn to grandchild/grandparent relationships, I think because I grew up with friends who were very close to their grandparents, so I saw this as a unique window of time when I could experience that for myself.
I’m really grateful I had that opportunity to spend time with them. I think that experience, as well as my longing to have been close to them during my childhood, inspired much of Valerie and Halmeoni’s relationship. While their relationship wasn’t something I had myself, I know many people have close bonds with their grandparents and I’ve always thought that was very special.
Prutha: And last but not least, what’s something you’d like your readers to take away from your book or something you’d like to tell them?
Sarah: I hope there was something in this book that made you smile or laugh or feel seen. Above all else, I just want to say a big THANK YOU for reading!
About the author
Sarah Suk (she/her) [pronounced like soup with a K] lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes stories and admires mountains. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit her on Twitter and Instagram @sarahaelisuk.
Sarah is represented by Linda Epstein at Emerald City Literary Agency.