Home > My Summer In Seoul

My Summer In Seoul
Author: Rachel Van Dyken



Jill, I know I’ve dedicated many books to you, but this one is special; this one reminds me of all the reasons it’s important to live every day to your fullest.

So this is for you and for the Chronic Book Warrior Facebook group

who show what it’s like to fight every day when the world seems to be against you.

Fight like a girl. Win.



Author Note

You hear authors talk about passion projects, projects that they do because they want to because if they don’t do them, a part of their soul feels like it’s dying—this was that project for me.

Back in 2019, I had this idea to do a K-pop book while sitting at Apollycon in DC. There were so many readers, and the vibe of the entire place was off the charts. And because I was a huge fan of K-pop already and had a friend constantly sending me music videos, I decided that our table needed to have a bit of BTS’ Mic Drop playing on repeat.

It was insane how many people would start dancing, singing, or how their nerves would just dissipate (let’s be honest, book signings in the romance community can be insanely nerve-wracking for both authors and readers, just another reason I love the romance community!).

I told my agent and a publisher that I was going to do it, I was going to write this book—after all, I’d written a ton of rockstar romances; how different could this be?

HAH! Well, I knew that idols had a lot of pressure and that the K-pop industry was vastly different, but the minute I dove in, I realized that I seriously had no clue, NO CLUE. It was hard to include all of those details in just one book, so fingers crossed I can do more!

This is also a passion project for me because I was told by several industry professionals that I couldn’t write it. Or that it wouldn’t sell. Or that it was too new. What genre did it even fit into? I’ve written diverse characters my entire career and have always been careful to research and use sensitivity readers no matter what, so I was a bit shocked. I had a few very key people tell me that if this story was in my soul, I needed to write it. If I listed all the people here, the list would be so long but thank you to everyone who reached out, who helped me, people from all over the world, from Korea to China, Africa, the States, Canada—this book would be nothing without your input. Truly.

Once COVID hit, I decided I would dive deep into K-pop that I’d spent nearly a year already attempting to write, little did I know that the pandemic would be ongoing and that I was forced to take some “free” time indoors and continue my research, and not just researching but watching YouTube videos (I swear my youngest probably knows Korean at this point). I even decided to start learning Korean and attempted to stick to a K-pop idol schedule to fully immerse myself—I didn’t last long, and as a parent, I am used to zero sleep! It was so much fun, and now I’m happy to announce that’s literally all my kids want to listen to. How amazing, right?

I’m so thankful for the experiences I had with this book, and I’m SO SO SO thankful to Seoul Street & Q4 Entertainment, along with Content Group, Will Yung Lee and Mark and Christine Holder, for believing in this story and adapting it for TV. You guys are amazing.

I hope you guys enjoy this book!

No, this experience ;)



K-pop Glossary

K-pop: Korean Pop (music)


Idols: The term for a Korean pop star or K-pop star.


Visual: The idol in the group with the best features and is also a main focus for their good looks. Think Jin from BTS or more recently in 2021 V, after 13 fancams reached over ten million views.


Trainee: Someone under a record label who is training to be an idol with others in an attempt to debut either on their own or typically with a group. This can include as little as a few months of dance training, singing with coaches from the label as they invest their money into you, or it can take years. Some people train for years and never debut. Think of it as a record label boot camp.


Maknae: Youngest of group.


Sasaeng: The fans who don’t respect the idols’ privacy—stalk them, put them in dangerous situations, and feel ownership over their idols’ lives. Another one of the reasons idols don’t date or are encouraged to hide dating is because of these “fans.”


Netizens: Online commenters, keyboard warriors


Bias: Your crush.


Comeback: When an idol or musician releases new music and makes their “comeback” into the public eye with a new look, music video, tracks, mini album, or full album (collabs included)


Variety Show: Shows that idols perform on. It can be musical performances, acting, skits, an intro to them, competition, etc.


MV: Music Video


Showcase: Typically set for debut groups who don’t have enough songs to do an entire concert, groups will pick up to five songs to perform. A newer group like SWT might also do this if they’ve only been releasing mini-albums and not a full-length one yet. For a good example of a Showcase, check out newer groups like Enyphen, Aespa, Treasure.



Meet SWT

Something Worth Taking



Part One

The Beginning.




Naive: Having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; Credulous. See Also: Grace Lee.


August 2020


I stared down the exact same gate that had brought me to Seoul three months ago.

Of course, it would be the same gate.

With exactly seventy-two uncomfortable blue chairs that I’d had the chance to count since I’d gotten to the airport three hours early.

I’d run away.

After the yelling.

After the fight.

After the tears, though some of them still lingered on my cheeks. It was no use wiping them away; more just managed to leak their way from my burning eyes down onto my blotchy skin.

Perfect country to cry in, someone almost always pointed out that you looked tired, or old, or just plain ugly when expressing any sort of emotion. Add that to the fact that I was tan—well, you can imagine the horrified looks I got.

I couldn’t bring myself to think about it, his hollow stare, the way he didn’t even flinch like he had no intention of coming after me despite his confession, and couldn’t fathom why I would even be upset after waking up to the chaos. To the looks on their faces.

I squeezed my eyes shut and rested my head on my hands as my elbows dug into my denim-clad thighs.

They weren’t coming.

Mainly him.

He wasn’t coming.

Stupid, that with all of the Korean dramas I’d been subjected to over the last few months, I still held out hope that he would appear at the airport, at the last minute, like the perfect hero expressing his undying love. We’d stare longingly into each other’s eyes for what would almost seem an uncomfortable amount of time, and then I would close my eyes, he would close his.


True love.


Okay, maybe not marriage, but at least a declaration that what we’d shared was more than just a summer fling with a foreigner. Maybe that was what made my skin crawl—the fact that my insecurity caused me to wonder if the only reason he went after me was because I was different.

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