Monday, May 17, 2021

Sarah Suk Interview - Made in Korea

Photo Credir: Farisia Thang

Sarah Suk (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 graduated from UBC with a major in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing.
  • Her previous jobs include making bubble tea, teaching creative writing workshops, and interning with Liberty in North Korea in their Seoul office (check them out, they’re awesome!).
  • Her favourite ice cream flavour is mint chip, she prefers tea over coffee, and she loves winter the best even though it’s cold and gets dark at 4 PM.

Greatest thing you learned at school?
How to develop film and print photos in a darkroom.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
Born in Vancouver, Canada, which I still call home today!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
So far I’d say it’s been seeing my name on a book cover. That’s something I’ve dreamed of for a long time and to see it come true was such a surreal and rewarding experience! I’ve also started hearing from readers who were able to get an early copy of MADE IN KOREA and had very kind things to say which has been so cool. I’m really looking forward to connecting with more readers as the book hits shelves.

Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is that I finally got an appropriate lasagna dish so I can now make lasagna at home. Very exciting, I know!

Can you tell us when you started MADE IN KOREA, how that came about?
I started working on MADE IN KOREA around late 2018, early 2019. It began with the thought, ‘it would be fun to write about Korean teens selling K-beauty products at school, but I don’t know what else they do yet’ and it just kept on growing from there.

  • 1) “What can I say, Wes? When you choose the path of an artist, nothing is promised, but everything is possible.”
  • 2) “Suddenly, the past couple of weeks of trying to dodge her in the halls felt like a missed opportunity. She made me nervous, true, but now that she was here in front of me, there was so much I wanted to say. I wanted to ask if she had heard about my sales and what she thought about it, if I was doing a good job, if the lipstick she was wearing was the same one she had used to write on my shirt. There were so many things I wanted to know about her. She made me curious.”
  • 3) “Are we still at war?
    For a moment, I considered extending my hand and helping him up. After seeing his sales at the market, I knew I had the better business. He wasn’t a threat anymore. And there was something about the way he’d stopped to free me, the way his fingers had brushed against my skin and made my breath catch in my throat, the way he was looking at me right now with such hope and seriousness and genuine anticipation, that made me want to say, All right, the war is over. Good game, Wes Jung.
    But then I heard footsteps coming down the hall and I felt something stronger. The desire to win. To nail in my victory and prove that I was really the best.
    ‘I thought you were competition,’ I said. ‘But I guess I was wrong.’
    I pushed past him and ran to the band room. I heard him leap up, chase after me. But it was too late. I had already won.”
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Hmm I’m not sure I have a specific thing that I want readers to think while reading, but I do hope my novel makes them feel something. Whether it makes them laugh or empathize with a character, I hope there would be something in the story that sparks a sense of joy.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Valerie and Wes?
The most surprising thing I learned was how your characters can know the story better than you do and end up guiding you in the writing process. There were several moments where I felt like Valerie and Wes were telling me, “No no I would never do that” or “I think this should happen instead.” I was surprised by how much of writing them was actually discovering them and letting them take the lead.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love for Valerie and Wes to cross over into a fantasy world of some sort and learn magic! Maybe I would introduce them to Riley Oh from Graci Kim’s novel THE LAST FALLEN STAR and they could be sorted into one of the gifted clans. It would be both intriguing and hilarious to see them in a magical setting.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Oh man. I’m a huge procrastinator so I feel like there are a countless number of things that distract me at any given moment. At the time I was writing MADE IN KOREA, I think I was deep in my obsession with the show Anne with an E. I was binge watching episodes and fan videos like nobody’s business. It definitely pulled me away from my manuscript more than once!

  • 1) Know My Name — A memoir by Chanel Miller who was sexually assaulted at a Stanford frat party in 2015. So powerful and emotionally searing.
  • 2) Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow— The third in Jessica Townsend’s brilliant Nevermoor series which I am totally enamored by!
  • 3) The Silence of Bones by June Hur — An atmospheric murder mystery set in 1800, Joseon.
  • 4) Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon — A charming enemies-to-lovers romcom that takes place during a senior year scavenger hunt across the city of Seattle.
  • 5) Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram — A story about a teen named Darius who visits Iran for the first time to see his grandparents. Beautifully written, and it really made me want to drink tea.
  • 6) A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown — This West African folklore inspired fantasy had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. It was that gripping and exciting.
  • 7) Harley in the Sky — Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing always speaks straight to my heart and this circus-centered story was no exception.
  • 8) This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone — I have never read a time travel book – or any book for that matter – quite like this one. Prose like poetry.
  • 9) The List of Things that Will Not Change — Reading Rebecca Stead’s writing is like a masterclass in middle grade voice. I always feel like I’m hopping right into a character’s head when I read her work.
  • 10) So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo — A very informative, helpful, and honest must-read.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Eat shaved ice dessert.

Best date you've ever had?
On my first date with my now husband, we went hiking to a waterfall, only it was winter and the ground was frozen solid so we ended up slipping and sliding all along the trails. It was like ice skating, except in ill-equipped shoes and the added challenge of trying not to collide into trees. We got so many bruises that day from falling. It was painful. But very memorable!

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I would go back to the time I was living in Seoul for an internship after graduating university. I think if I had a second chance at it, I would try to travel more within South Korea and see different parts of the country while I was there!

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My wallet, chapstick, keys, and face lotion.

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
Probably South Korea when I was a kid for a family trip, though I was so young I don’t remember much about it.

First Heartbreak?
When I was a teenager.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
I would choose true love with a guarantee of heart break. Deeply painful, but part of life and growth.

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.

You can purchase Made in Korea at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. My first concert was a JLS concert (Lol!) :)
    Megan S.

  2. The first concert I ever went to was Spin Doctors in 1997.

  3. I'm a million years old so: An outdoor festival featuring Humble Pie, Sha Na Na, and Three Dog Night.

  4. I can’t remember. It’s been too many years ago.

  5. It was Avril Lavigne. I was about thirteen years old? It was a blast :)

  6. I think it was AC/DC. Obviously decades ago.

  7. Probably Peter, Paul and Mary almost 50 years ago.

  8. Willie Nelson was my first concert.

  9. Counting Crows and the Wallflowers

  10. It was an outdoor festival with many bands

  11. Scots Guards when I was in high school.