I was going to write about the results of yesterday’s Korean national election, but this news is far too tragic to postpone until tomorrow.  Shawn Matthews, one of Korea’s top bloggers, committed suicide on May 23rd in Beijing.  His blog was read by thousands, and he was loved by many readers from around the world.  My wife introduced his blog to me last year, and I read it occasionally.  Last year I blogged about Shawn on two occasions, on June 25 and November 27.  His current blog, China Life Blog, has been virtually shut down, but his previous, award-winning blog, Korea Life Blog, is still active.  Read it soon because it too may be shut down in the future.  All traces of his life in China except for Jake’s post have vanished from the Internet.  I hope that Shawn’s Korea blog remains online so that people can read his fine work.  He was a very talented blogger.
His friend Jake posted an entry discussing what happened.  His ex-girlfriend, Ling Ling, recently started a blog of her own, most likely inspired by Shawn.  I won’t speculate on the specifics of Shawn’s death–read Jake’s narrative to learn more about what happened.  Shawn’s story reminds me of another tragedy that jarred me when I was younger–the suicide of one of my high school classmates.  He was a star basketball player with a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at a state university.  He was an excellent student and had what many thought was a rock-solid relationship with his wonderful girlfriend.  He was popular and beloved by our hometown.  Yet he committed suicide not more than two months after we graduated from high school.  The entire community was shocked by his untimely death.  Many suspected that breaking up with his girlfriend triggered his death, something I later confirmed with his ex-girlfriend.  At the time I felt so mortal, especially after another classmate died a month earlier in a car accident, and a third one nearly drowned.  We were high school graduates with a very bright future, but we were scared to death of dying and cognizant of our own mortality.  It was a very somber summer.
In case you are wondering why I’ve posted two tragic posts this week–Shawn’s death and the fall of Barbaro–no worries.  Life is good here.  I’m busy and a bit tired perhaps, but none the worse for wear.  Unlike Shawn, I will never live my life online through this blog.  Shawn’s blog was appealing to readers partly because he often blogged about his personal life.  This may have made him more vulnerable to suicide.  When you are popular in any way, even as a blogger, you find yourself under increasing pressure to perform.  When you write about the drama in your life, blogging magnifies those feelings.  The audience eggs you on and asks for more, more, more.  I wish Shawn could have sought comfort and praise through another means.  He might still be alive today.  Now one of my colleagues is working on helping Shawn’s family return his remains to the U.S.  What a sad ending to someone will immense promise.

Books by MG EdwardsMG Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures and children’s books. A former U.S. diplomat, he served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before leaving the Foreign Service to write full time.

Edwards is author of six books. His memoir, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, was finalist for the Book of the Year Award and the Global eBook Award. He has published four children’s picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander; Ellie the Elephant; Zoe the Zebra; and a collection featuring all three stories. His book Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories is an anthology of 15 short stories.

Edwards lives in Taipei, Taiwan with his family. He has also lived in Austria, Singapore and Thailand. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him by e-mail at me@mgedwards.com or on Twitter @m_g_edwards.

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1 Comment

  1. Angeline's Gravatar Angeline
    June 8, 2006    

    Hi Mike,
    After I read about Shawn’s suicide on your posting, I crossed over to his friend’s site and read more about him.  From my personal experience, I knew that Shawn actually died of depression.  I would want to write about my own depression in my space but am too tired everyday because I started doing relief teaching at a Montessori Preschool three days ago.  I wanted to share so that others will know more about depression and to avoid it from an early stage.

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