Debut U.S. Novelist Is Entranced by Korean Soaps

September 21, 2008 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Television | 15 Comments

A retired American teacher who fell in love with Korean soap operas has published her debut novel “Bird and Fish,” a love story between a Korean man and an American woman. Adrienne Leslie (61) retired after working as a teacher for 16 years in the Korean neighborhood of Little Neck, Flushing, New York.

Her novel tells the love story between Hyun Jae-won, who has given up art and works as a clerk in a paint shop in New York, and Wendy Dale, an American teacher and Korean soap opera fanatic.

Adrienne Leslie, the author of ‘Bird and Fish,’ a novel about the romance between a Korean man and an American woman.

The book is full of references to popular Korean soaps such as “My Name is Kim Sam-soon,” “Famous Princesses” and “Princess Hours.” And its 532 pages also teem with transliterations of Korean dialogue.

Leslie is an ardent fan of Korean culture and watches Korean soaps more than two hours a day. She is a member of, an online club for Korean soap fans in the U.S. She said the themes in Korean soap operas, especially strong emphasis on family ties, are not alien to her because she grew up in an extended family. She also loves the romance in Korean dramas. So why did she decide to write about the romance between an Asian man and an American woman, a fairly rare matter in American society. “I was upset with the American stereotype that only deals with romance between Asian women and American men,” she says.

The title goes to the existential question — where do a bird and a fish go if they fall in love? Where should a couple from two entirely different worlds, such as a Korean man and an American woman, live if they get married? “Perhaps a place of their own,” Leslie says. The answer will come in her next novel, “Sea and Sky.”

Source: Digital Chosunilbo
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  1. Interesting woman, though the concept of her novel feels a little like fanfiction, or a “what I wish I married” story… Sorry to be cruel to her. xD

  2. hmmm, sounds interesting… imma check this out at my local bookstore…

  3. After I read this blurb bere, I went in search of the actual book and can’t find it anywhere!

  4. This sounds interesting. I’ll have to look the book up if I can.

  5. @ darrow & others who are interested:

    just try searching for it! here’s the link from amazon:

  6. i’ve a;ways wanted to write a novel along these lines. finally, a author who writes a subject that most people are afraid of. thank you for the link, seoulfull.

  7. Sorry, Creativerehash–I’m happily married to an Irish American–When I was an educational envoy to Korea, I couldn’t help notice how much it felt like home –NYC and Seoul are sister cities but I also knew my green eyes and (then) red hair made me stand out. My story is more about how at the worst time of your life, the best person comes to share it—Thanks for the apology–send me a safe address , I’ll send you a copy of Bird and Fish-
    Adrienne Leslie

  8. Dear Onni A,
    This story you have written is so much my very own life, that I was craning my neck around at every chapter to see if perhaps you were spying on me! Your love and appreciation of Korean culture shines like a star, and the KDrama references? Have me shouting and laughing right out: “Oohh! I LOVED that one! Ahhh! That one was awesome!!”
    (I confess to being a consummate “Rain” (Hoony) fan, and that was how I started with the KD’s.) I work at a Library, and have dog-eared my poor copy of B&F so badly (from my constant page flipping to find some snippet of language or drama info!) That even tho I taped the spine and covers with Library binding? This poor thing still can’t keep its pages anymore! I am looking for a hardcover. Is there such a thing? Your book is like the KDrama BIBLE! haha!
    I am counting the minutes till #2 comes out! Aja Aja fighting, Onni! although since Rain was on “Family Outing last month, I now say “San-Toggi”! instead. To watch a group of grown Korean Men in pajamas respond to Hoony’s war cry of “Wild Rabbits”! with a resounding “YEAH”!!! ? How can you not want that as your personal mantra?
    Your devoted Fan forever,

  9. im an american woman in love with a korean man, we will be married soon and he is the love of my life, ill have to check out your book.

  10. Cinxxx–I’m sorry I didn’t see your comments till today–Sea and Sky will be out this fall. Amazon will pre-release it in June. Bi is mentioned often (I can’t say how). Thank you so much for your encouragement and YES, there is a hardcopy available through Amazon–As for Carrie–I hope you’re still enjoying your honeymoon phase축하

  11. Dear Ms. Leslie, thanks for the reply to this blog! Very cool! I feel a bit inept, but I have never found a hardcover edition of your book at Amazon. Not even a used one.
    Perhaps I am missing something? I have tried other sites as well with no luck. Any info would be appreciated.
    I am anxiously awaiting “Sea & Sky”!! I also wondered if you have any other contact point besides this blog? “SeoulFull” is now on Hiatus for who know how long, and I hoped you might have another site that is more current.
    “San Toki, Yeah!!”

  12. Dear Madame Leslie,

    I am so glad I could find you. It is me Andres (UN) from the Korean Hanbok gallery (june 21). I hope we can get meet again later on to exchange ideas, values and experiences about Korean culture. Thank you so much for your charming personality and valuable time.
    I am looking to buying your book these days. ^^

    Andres Pazmino

  13. Andres, of course I remember you–write to–Thanks so much, it was a joy talking to you as well–

  14. My books are always available at Amazon–I look forward to meeting drama fans at book talks (Usually we talk for hours!)–Next month will be up for the release of Sea and Sky–

  15. Ms.Leslie~ Its me again! I know you have full confidence in Amazon. I unfortunately, cannot ever get your books from them! Always your books are “Temp out of stock”.
    I will wait, as I have no choice, but I am most anxious to have S&S!
    Do you ever do book signings Upstate NY? I am in Rochester. would love to meet you and speak Korean. I am Hak-Saeng, learning this lovely language and culture.
    Like you I started self-taught, but am now learning with a wonderful college group through a local church. Korean College students teach any who would learn. I am having the time of my life!
    I hope one day to meet you, and most importantly, hope to get my hands on the 2cd installment of your wonderful story!
    Thank you~~

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