Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: Jeffrey Miller SolBridge (page 1 of 23)

Bureau 39: The Beginning

bureau39_ebook_front 2Many people have asked me how did I come up with the story for my latest novel, Bureau 39. The story of Frank Mitchum chasing down an old Army buddy in Korea while trying to cut-off North Korea’s funding for its WMDs started out as a story about a murder in Itaewon, which was based on an actual event that happened in 2002. The novel, Murder in the Moonlight, which was my first foray into the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2012, was the story about a woman found murdered in a hotel in Itaewon. The woman, the daughter of a former United States Forces Korea (USFK) general was in Korea visiting friends. When she ends up dead, her father contacts one of his former NCOs, Greg Sanders, who is a defense contractor in Seoul, to find out what happened. Sanders runs into his old nemesis in the CID who is convinced that the woman was murdered by her boyfriend. Later, Sanders finds out that the daughter got caught up in a drug smuggling conspiracy involving members of South Korea’s underworld and a North Korean defector. The closer Sanders gets to finding out who killed the girl, he becomes caught up in a web of deception and murder.

I wasn’t happy with the how I developed the story and shelved it to work on The Panama Affair.

And then in 2014, I heard about a former Army Ranger who was caught trying to smuggle 100 kilograms of methamphetamine into the United States.

The meth was from North Korea.

It was time to look at the story again.

Full Circle

2015-09-04 06.50.53Not long after I arrived in Korea in 1990, I started having breakfast at Paris Croissant in the Kangnam subway station. My buddy, Ken, told me about the place where a fellow could get a fried egg, toast, and coffee for a couple thousand won. Not a bad deal.

On many a morning, before I started teaching my first class at ELS, a language school in southern Seoul, I had my breakfast at Paris Croissant, sitting elbow to elbow with office ladies, dipping my buttered toast in the egg yolk, washing it down with black coffee, and listening to Frank Sinatra. (“Seoul Movement”)

This past week, The SolBridge coffee shop started serving morning breakfast. For 3,000 won a fellow can get two pieces of toast, fried egg, and a cup of joe. Not a bad way to begin the day.

Although there were no office ladies or Frank Sinatra, I felt as though I had stepped back in time, twenty-five years.

Welcome Home, Sgt. Paul M. Gordon

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Another service member from the Korean War will soon be coming home:

 

Sgt. Paul M. Gordon was a farm boy from Dry Ridge, a top-notch basketball player who dreamed of one day going to Alaska to pan for gold.

He graduated from Crittenden High School when he was 16 and joined the Army soon after, in January 1949.

Gordon was 20 and serving in the Korean War when he died in June 1951 in a prisoner of war camp.

For decades, his family wondered about his fate.

“None of us really knew what happened to him,” said nephew Tony Gayhart of Burlington.

Now they do, and on Tuesday, Gordon’s remains will be brought to the United States, and he will be buried Friday at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown.

You can read the rest of the story here.

These articles always choke me up because of their connection to my Korean War novel, War Remains. However, this one hits a little closer to home because he was with the 38th Infantry Regiment of the US Second Infantry Division, the same division and regiment that Bobby Washkowiak was with.

Welcome Home, Sgt. Gordon.

Room With a View

My Life as an Expat Day 4

Looking out my 12th floor apartment in Daejeon. Of all the places and apartments I have lived in the 24 plus years I’ve worked and lived in Korea, I’ve finally moved up to a room with a view.

The building in the middle is the KORAIL (Korean Railroad) headquarters. Daejeon station is to the right. I’m pretty lucky where I live. In fact, I have always lived close to where I have worked in Korea and as well as close to public transportation. I live only ten minutes (on foot) away from SolBridge and the train station; about fifteen minutes (on foot) away from the bus terminal and two hyper markets

In the distance is Bomun Mountain. On the mountain is a monument dedicated to the 25th Infantry Division which fought here during the Korean War (Daejeon, then Taejon, fell on July 28, 1950). There is also a statue of General William Dean, the top military commander in Korea at the outbreak of the Korean War. His driver took a wrong turn as they fled the city with North Korean forces advancing. Dean was captured and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.

I love these kinds of days in Korea: cool, gray, and rainy. I wish I could bottle up these days and open that bottle whenever I wanted.

Panama Daze

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You might say that I have been in a daze since I started working on my new novel which takes place in Panama during the 1970s-1980s.  For the past two months I have been working on this new novel as much as I can when I am not teaching or spending time with my children. Because of my schedule and wanting to spend time with my children, I only write in the morning from 5-7 and in the evening from 9-12. Surprisingly I have been averaging around 500-700 words a day. I’m nearing the 55,000 word count mark and I can easily see this novel coming in at around 65,000-70,000 words.

Without question, this is my most ambitious novel since War Remains which contains to stay in the top 50 for Korean War best sellers at Amazon. Today it is at Number 7.

There has been a lot of research and more to come.

It really feels as though I am back in Panama. That period of my life, from 1977-1978, was such an important time. I am happy to finally write about it.

All The Right Moves

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If you’ve walked past the 3rd floor gymnasium on Tuesday mornings between 9:00-11:00 you’ve probably heard a lot of shouting. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just Dr. Kim Choon-won conducting one of his Taekwondo classes.

Georgia Tech Bound

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Although they come from three different backgrounds and two countries, three SolBridge Students share a common appointment with destiny: they will soon be hitting the books at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) in the fall 2014 semester.

Lingling “Jessica” Zhang, Zhongfan Jian, and Kim “Kate” So-hyun will be joining seven other SolBridge students who have already taken advantage of this unique 2+2 program the two schools have with each other whereby students can obtain two degrees.

“I want to study in America, perhaps study MBA in the US. I think it’s good to spend two years here and two years in America to experience the two cultures,” Jessica said. “Here I am not too homesick because I am close to my home (China).”

Zhongfan, echoed Jessica’s sentiments.

“According to my mom’s view, it was a good idea for me to study in the United States which is still the frontier of the business field,” Zhongfan said.

Interestingly, Zhongfan’s mother already knew about Georgia Tech and hoped that her son would be able to attend after studying at SolBridge for two years.

Kate, on the other hand, had been planning to go to Georgia Tech ever since she started SolBridge to expand her horizons.

“Georgia Tech was the reason why I came to SolBridge,” Kate said. “I had been thinking about going to nursing school at Woosong, but when I heard about Georgia Tech and the 2+2 program SolBridge had with the school, I thought that studying business would be a perfect fit for me.”

Finding out information about Georgia Tech was easy for all three students who either heard about the program by visiting SolBridge’s website or by talking to their classmates. However, all three students advised students who are thinking about attending to plan as early as they can.

“Choose your courses wisely,” Zhongfan suggested.

Although Georgia Tech might be the right choice for some students who would like to expand their horizons, it might not be a good idea for those looking for a job closer to home.

“If you want to find a good job in Korea maybe it’s not wise to go there,” Jessica said.

At least one student is concerned about what awaits once they arrive in the United States.

“I am really scared about going to America because there will be no one to support me,” Kate said. “I am afraid of the language barrier and all the papers I will have to write. I heard from the people already there that we will have to study more, too.”

Nonetheless, Jessica, Zhongfan, and Kate are confident that they will do well once they start Georgia Tech.

“Maybe there’s a little nervousness,” Jessica said. “I’ve never been too far from my home country, but after two years in Korea I think I can manage it.”

“Don’t be afraid to take a challenge,” Kate added.

Former US Congressman Visits SolBridge

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A former US congressman visited SolBridge the other day to address the students; a former congressman from Illinois I might add.

Donald Manzullo, from Illinois’ 16th Congressional District. Just up the road a bit from the LaSalle-Peru area. He’s currently the President and the CEO of the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEIA)

We had the chance to talk a little but after his lecture, but he had a train to catch. Fortunately, I talked to one of his aides and sent him some of the photos I took. I mentioned my Korean War novel, War Remains. I hope the former congressman checks it out.

2014 SolBridge Asian Thought Leaders Case Competition

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The first-ever SolBridge Asian Thought Leaders Case Competition got underway on Monday, January 20th, featuring twenty-two students from seven universities (SolBridge included) around Asia.

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Photo of the Day: Put ‘er in the basket, Chief!

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All I could think about after I took these photos was Jack Nicholson playing basketball in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

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