Fishnets In The Far East: A Dancer’s Diary In Korea

Fishnets In The Far East, is a true story of a young dancer who follows her aspiration into South Korea. Along with two friends, this young dancer experiences a shady, unappealing, version of the entertainment industry no one could prepare her for. As her dream of becoming a dancer turns into a nightmare, Michele struggles with maintaining her strength, voice, and power in male dominated surroundings.

“I had arrived barely muttering a word to anyone, but over the past six months, I had had to learned to stand up for myself. I realized that the only way to survive in this male orientated world, was to be confrontational. If not, the female sex would be constantly taken advantage of again and again; walked on; belittled and ignored.” – Michele E. Northwood

Reading real-life experiences can be greatly overwhelming. As a reader, it feels invasive and personal. As a writer, you fight the urge to continuously critique and criticize. When reading Fishnets in the Far East, all I could focus on and feel was fear. I didn’t have it in me to critique the way I normally would. I lost myself completely in Michele’s story. Often I confused her feelings with my own. Her fear became my fear. Even when she maintained strength, I grew scared for her. 

I’ll admit, I had some trouble getting to this book at first. I don’t enjoy reading personal stories. I like getting lost in fantasy worlds to escape my own life. I’m finding out that I can do that with non-fiction. I pushed through, the feelings of invasiveness I felt seemed to disappear as did my unwillingness to read something new. It was replaced with fear, wonder, and astonishment. I finished the book in a day.

”We quickly positioned the chair and moved away from the door in case of gun shots. Then, we waited. Finally, after an endless twenty minutes, the shouting and banging on the door abruptly stopped and the duo left. However, it became impossible for us to sleep. Over the next few hours, the miffed Mafia boss constantly phoned our room in fifteen minute intervals.”

Michele E. Northwood

It repeatedly dawned on me – within every odd, scary, or frustrating encounter Michele had – that I was reading a diary. I couldn’t diminish the anguish I felt while reading Fishnets in the Far East. This was someone’s life story. The amount of anxiety, tribulation, and helpless I felt caused me to value Michele Northwood’s journey because at some pint she felt all those things – maybe more. I began to try and imagine myself in any of these girl’s shoes – I couldn’t. I’m sure I would’ve packed up and given up after the first odd encounter, but Michele never did. 

I didn’t admire her just because she had the guts to go after her dream. Although that’s powerful, I admired her for chasing it into unknown places. At times being scared but never shutting down or packing up, I admired her for growing, taking charge, and remaining strong even when she no longer felt strong. To me that’s powerful. Michele is powerful. her story is honest, open, and intriguing. I could read her development, her determination, and her power in every world. Each new chapter was like being introduced to a new, less vulnerable, stronger Michele.

“My time in Korea had opened my eyes to a shady side of the entertainment world which I had never been a part of before and did not really know existed. It had introduced me to a different culture, tradition and attitude and, despite everything, I was grateful for the opportunity to have been able to live there.”

Michele Northwood

I loved everything about this book. I loved that Michele held herself accountable. I loved that she addressed her mistakes and the mistakes of those around her; but I adored the note she presented for readers, once they reach the final chapter;

“I now look back on some of my diary entries with acute embarrassment. Some of the ways in which I spoke to the Koreans with whom I spent my time, or how I treated them were totally uncalled for. My only excuse is that I was too young and foolish to really embrace the culture, language and customs of that amazing country.”

Michele E. Northwood

Michele was thrust into a male dominated world, but never let her surroundings take from her. I have yet to see authors write like Michele. With every word and chapter she reminders readers how strong she is. She also reminds us that shes still learning, growing, and more than willing to accept her faults, and use them to strengthen herself. Even when she was (rightfully) frustrated with the male dominated world around her, she never judged the people around her; but refused to allow anyone to change or take from her. Most would fear traveling again, but Michele left her heart and mind open. It is astonishing to read Michele’s story, but its one everyone should pick up at least once.

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Reviewed by:
 Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

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