Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Book Feature and Excerpt: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk



Made in KoreaNetflix’s Start-up meets David Yoon’s Frankly in Love in Sarah Suk’s MADE IN KOREA (On Sale: May 18, 2021), a 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. Perfect for fans of K-Beauty and Korean pop culture, this sweet #OwnVoices hate-to-love romance speaks honestly to the Asian-American experience, exploring everything from the power of fandom to the pressures of tight-knit immigrant families. Don’t miss this captivating summer debut, perfect for AAPI Heritage Month!



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.


[from pages 51-54]

I pushed through the crowd, ignoring the complaints of the students in line and Charlie calling out behind me.

Amelia was at the front, batting her eyes at Wes as she filled her tiger-striped tote bag with face masks.

A tote bag that said CROWN TIGER in big metallic

letters across the front.

“Oh, hey, Valerie!” Amelia said, spotting me. “Are you a Royal Stripe too?”

“A what?” It was taking all of my control to keep my voice level.

She pursed her lips. “Well, if you don’t know, you obviously aren’t one. It’s the name of Crown Tiger’s fandom.”

“That’s great.” I turned to Wes, who was desperately trying to avoid eye contact with me, even though I was

literally standing right in front of him. How dare he pretend I’m not here? “Hey. Wes Jung. Can I have a word?”

“Oh, hey, Valerie,” he said in an Oh, I didn’t see you there! Kind of way. I wanted to take Amelia’s tote bag

and throw it at him. “Sure. Um, Pauline? Will you be okay on your own for a sec?”

Pauline glanced at me before giving him a nod. The angry, coiling feeling in my stomach grew tighter. Of all

people, why was Pauline Lim helping him? She didn’t even care about beauty products. She’d never shopped

with us once since we started our business.

Wes followed me to the side of the room. The first time we’d met, I thought I’d set him straight. I hadn’t heard

anything otherwise last week, so I thought things were back to normal, as they should be. So why was he back?

And the better question was, why was he back selling face masks?

I stared hard at him, trying to figure him out. He was tall with cool glasses that made me wonder if he really

needed them or if they were just for fashion. With his strong jawline and full lips, he could probably be a model

if he wanted to. He even had that deep, soulful look in his eyes that people loved in models. Ugh. Kristy Lo

was right. He was annoyingly handsome. I shook my head quickly, clearing my thoughts to focus. He kept

rubbing the back of his neck with his hand, like he was nervous around me. As he should

be. He had no idea.

“This, um, this isn’t what it looks like,” he said, looking at me with something like hope. “Can I explain? Please?”

For a second, I considered taking a deep breath and saying yes, fine, go ahead—like an adult would do, like Samantha would probably do. If I tempered my anger and looked at Wes, really looked at him beyond his potentially fake glasses, I could see that he had an air of open honesty to him that made me want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But then I heard Kristy Lo’s voice carry across the band room, exclaiming, “Give me two of everything. I won’t need another face mask for weeks!”

My walls immediately snapped back into place. The tight feeling in my stomach grew into flames. I knew what that fire was. Anger. Pure, unfiltered anger.

“You mean you’re not selling face masks at school and stealing my business?” I said, my voice faux cheerful.

“I’m not stealing—”

“You’re new, so maybe you don’t know how things work around here, but are you aware that you can’t just

sell products at school without the principal’s permission?”

He mumbled something unintelligible. I leaned forward with my hand cupped around my ear. It was a petty

action, and I hated it when Samantha did that kind of thing to me, but I did it anyway.

“What? I can’t hear you.”

His cheeks turned pink as I got closer to him. He glanced down at my mouth and then looked away, mumbling,

“I said I did get the principal’s permission.”

My smile faltered. “Oh? Well, do you also have a teacher mentor? Because you can’t run your own business

at school without a mentor from the faculty.”

“Mr. Reyes,” he said. “Mr. Reyes is my mentor. He said I can use the band room to sell.”

“What?” I blinked fast. It felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. “You . . . you got permission to

start your own K-beauty business?”

“K-pop merch,” Wes said quickly. “It’s different from V&C. Today’s merch just happens to be face masks.”

“And your last sale just happened to be lip balm?” I asked, my voice rising.

He paused for a long moment. “People can still buy from both of us?” he said finally, but it came out as a

question, uncertain and naive.

“We’re high school students. You think we grow money trees in our backyard?” I cried. I glanced at the crowd,

where I spotted Natalie, Amelia, and Lisa Carol, who had been shopping with me since I first opened, gushing

over their new face masks. I turned

back to Wes, gritting my teeth. “And it looks like our buyers do

overlap, whether you think so or not.”

I can’t believe this. It took me years to build up my business, and this new guy thinks he can just waltz

in here and steal all my customers? Who the hell does he think he is? Does he even know anything

about running a business? He looked genuinely upset at how distressed I was, but before he could say anything, Pauline slammed her cash box closed and cried, “That’s it, everybody! We’re all sold out! Thanks for coming.”

I stiffened. I felt a lump rise in my throat. Shit, was I going to start crying? Now? I had to get out of

there. Shouldering past Wes, I ran as fast as I could out of the band room. I heard him call my name, but I

didn’t turn back.



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. Made in Korea is her first novel. You can visit Sarah online at SarahSuk.com and on Twitter and Instagram @SarahAeliSuk.


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