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Made in Korea

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A 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.

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.

352 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 18, 2021

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About the author

Sarah Suk

5 books192 followers
Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes stories and admires mountains. She is the author of young adult novels Made in Korea and The Space between Here & Now, as well as the co-writer of John Cho’s middle grade novel Troublemaker. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit Sarah online at sarahsuk.com and on Twitter and Instagram @_sarahsuk.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 564 reviews
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
413 reviews2,322 followers
May 22, 2021
While I didn't love Made in Korea, I didn't hate it either👀 Filled with an enemies-to-lovers romance altho its really more of Val considering Wes the enemy only, spies, sabotages, and heartwarming scenes, this was a pretty great debut. And it featured Korean-American main characters, which I've never seen in a book before, so that was fun!

“There isn't always a price tag or a black-and-white answer for why people do what they do.”

For years, Val has been in charge of her very popular and successful K-pop beauty business with her cousin Charlie. She has her goal in mind and nobody will get in her way being the only K-pop beauty business at her school. All is going well... until new student Wes comes in and starts up his own K-pop beauty business.

Of course Val doesn't take this well and soon they both make a bet—whoever makes the most money by the end of the school year gets to take all of the loser's money. It's an all or nothing...and thus, the competition begins.

Val annoyed me a lot in the beginning. The audacity of this girl. She acted like it was a personal offence that Wes started his own business—like no, he can have his own reasons to start a business too?? The way she treated him too-😶 uhh yeah, I definitely didn't like her, and though Val did learn/get better towards the end, it didn't change my feelings towards her.

Now Wes is just so sweet. He's too nice honestly, like I really don't understand how he liked Val but okay ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Wes deserved better, imo.

Also, his passion for music-🥺🥺 and the way he was trying to save up money for the fees required to go to music school because he knew his parents wouldn't pay for him omg it was so sad :( Wes had a better reason for his business than Val did ngl.

Part of me probably wouldve enjoyed this book more if it weren't for how much Val annoyed me, but also if I wasn't bored. There were a lot of scenes that just dragged on for me, where I'd just be counting down the number of pages I had left until I finished so I could be free. Still, I wasn't bored to the point that I hated it at least.

All in all, this was a all right debut by the author and I can see lots of potential for her future books! There were lots of K-pop references that I think K-pop fans would appreciate and love. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a quick read with characters who will do anything to beat the other~

Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!! <33
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,129 reviews13.8k followers
May 26, 2021
SUCH AN ADORABLE YA ROMANCE. I will say, know going into this that Valerie's character is going to be annoying. She makes some not-so-good decisions and puts her business before a lot, including friends and family. But, don't worry, this is something she works through and has to learn about herself by the end of the book. When she first meets Wes, she only sees competition and is furious he's also selling Korean beauty products at their school. She really needs money so that she can take her halmeoni to Paris and show her mom she can be successful at something. Wes doesn't mean to sell the Korean beauty products his mom sends him to school with, but he accidentally does and realizes he can make the money he needs to secretly apply to music school, which as always been his dream.

Both Wes and Valerie are dealing with parents who have high expectations of them. Valerie's mom always compares her to her older sister and Wes's parents expect him to be a doctor and go to a good medical school. Neither of them know how to communicate with their parents and that's something they really grow to learn to do by the end of the book. While this book does have a cute hate-to-love romance, this book does deal a lot with their families and the expectations placed on them. I loved that Wes played the saxophone and was so passionate about music, which was why he was so determined to have a successful business. The Wes and Valerie knew that their competition wasn't healthy, but they had no idea how to really stop competing with one another, especially after making a bet.

This had amazing side characters and I loved how present those characters were in the story. Both Valerie and Wes do a lot of growing throughout the book and I thought Wes was just so relatable and adorable. Valerie could be frustrating at times, but her business is all she has and she doesn't know what to do if it fails. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend picking it up!
Profile Image for Charmel.
183 reviews424 followers
April 28, 2022
3.8 stars
Enjoyable and easy to read!

This was a feel-good, sweet, and fuzzy debut by Sarah Suk. And the ending - god i loved how i grinned while reading through it. At first, I didn't feel the chemistry and connection between the two main characters but later on, it just snapped right in front of me. I also loved how the two of them faces their battles, either family problems or college problems. The way how their problems were represented felt a lot more realistic.

friendship, love, dreams, passion, competition, and k-foods and k-beauty products = all in here!


ANOTHER CHARACTER NAMED WES?? (haha what's wrong with me) I'M HERE FOR IT
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,202 followers
Want to read
April 22, 2020
honestly I would be one of the girls in this book buying k-beauty products off the heroine. sure hope this girl has tonymoly sheet masks and nature republic moisturiser and cosrx face wash in her locker stash because I’m running out
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,085 reviews5,074 followers
July 27, 2021
This book was stinking cute. I mean really cute. It took me a while to get through it because I rarely have time to read book physically. If you enjoy cute YA contemporary romances then this is one that I definitely would recommend checking out.

Made in Korea focuses on two characters, Valerie and Wes, who run competing K-beauty businesses in their school. At first the two don't get along; however, over time they begin to see the layers to each other's lives and personalities. One thing that Suk excelled at in this book was the character development. I'm more of a plot driven reader and I believe that I got that through the competitive components of the book; however, watching both Valerie and Wes grow as characters was truly the icing on the cake. Valerie isn't a likeable character, at first. She's very driven to make her business successful and she views her classmates as customers more so than humans that she should attempt to make connections with. Wes is the heat that melts her icy personality. Unlike Valerie, Wes is kinder and more personable. He's also more insecure than Valerie as result of constantly moving due to his mother's high-profile job working with a K-pop group. It's clear from the beginning that he finds Valerie intriguing and appealing, but it takes a lot of patience for him to get to the core of why she behaves the way she behaves. When a connection is made, Wes shows how much of a cinnamon roll he is and how much he was willing to do to build some sort of relationship with Valerie.

Another major component of this book is family. A great deal of the character development of Valerie and Wes is based on what is going on with their families. Valerie is cold and calculated because she doesn't get enough support from her mother and father who openly seem to prefer her sister over her. She has a strong relationship with her grandmother and wants her to see the world. She utilizes the business to make money for her grandmother. And Wes struggles with not living up to his familial expectations. He wants to go to school for music, but his dad’s insecurities related to money make it difficult for him to be vocal about his dreams. As a result, Wes utilizes his business to support his dream to go to music school. The issues that they have with their families carries over into how they run their business, but also is the way in which they begin to connect with each other. It's beautiful and heartwarming and in some ways sad to see how much of a burden each one of them carries.

I think that the business aspects of this book made it fun. I was rooting for both of them! There were also some great side characters. Suk doesn't allow everything to be tied up neatly per say, but I was overall happy with the conclusion and I can't wait to see what else she writes in the future.
Profile Image for katie ❀.
120 reviews477 followers
March 26, 2021
3/22/21: this is truly one of the cutest and funniest books i've ever had the pleasure of reading!!

// buddy read with kpop lover


update: i have secured an arc 🤸


i actually screamed when i saw that this had korean characters (because i'm korean too) and then i saw the cover and suddenly realized that i needed this yesterday
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,339 reviews352 followers
May 10, 2021
This book was an excellent read! I don’t read from many Asian writers much (long TBR list) but when I do, it’s funny how easy it is to relate to at least one character within the story. Wes felt unhappy with his dad’s expectations for his future just makes me want to read the paragraph out loud to my husband and my son because they are in the same boat. The inherited glasses and height were funny too because they both have it. I enjoyed the enemies-to-lover trope. The Korean drinking game was fun! I liked that there were many Korean words in this story. Reading this book actually comes at the right time. This year, I found myself having more Korean friends/neighbors. I can’t wait to impress them with my new Korean vocabularies!

This book followed Valerie, a senior, told in the first person point of view, as she stressed over her classmates having an argument about who’s first in line to buy her Korean beauty products at her locker. She ran V&C K-Beauty, a student business project at school with her cousin Charlie because the products were actually from Charlie’s dad gifting his mom. First week of school, Valerie’s stash was sold out in minutes, but second week she found out that her favorite customers were spending their money with the new student Wes and she was pissed off. The alternating view was Wes, the new hot guy at school. Wes moved around often due to his mom’s line of work. On his first day of school, his mom tucked in his backpack the latest popular K-pop merchandise as a way to make friends but to his horror, the girls ended up paying for the lot. Wes planned to return the money to the girls when an idea started forming in his mind as an answer to his private troubles. Unknown to Valerie about Wes’ intentions, she considered Wes as her enemy for stealing her loyal customers.

Made in Korea was well written and a fast paced read. An easy light hearted read with characters like Charlie who couldn’t talk to a girl he liked, Wes who couldn’t speak up to his parents for what he truly wanted, Valerie who felt like she had to work hard to prove herself just to be good enough in her mother’s eyes, and more. I enjoyed the relationship between Valerie and her grandma. After reading this book, I want to eat some bingsu! There are some Korean restaurants near where I live so I will definitely look them up! The story flowed as I expected. Not a lot of surprises except for the high stake bet. I liked the closeness of Valerie’s family during weekends where Valerie’s cousin came to cook breakfast with her mom and older sister. A nice family, friendship, and Korean beauty products read and I recommend everyone to read this book!

xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Profile Image for Kat Cho.
Author 8 books1,835 followers
May 24, 2021
My full blurb:

A delightful and heartwarming coming of age story about two lonely outsiders finding each other and butting heads before eventually recognizing a kindred soul. An adorable rival-to-lovers romcom that incorporates Korean culture seamlessly. You'll find yourself struggling with which team to root for! Pick it up for a sweet and entertaining read!
Profile Image for Darcey.
998 reviews207 followers
May 16, 2021
ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review.

4 cute stars :))

This book was really sweet! The characters were charming and realistic, the romance was adorable, and it was so nice to see the Korean aspects included in a YA novel. I found the unique entrepreneur storyline really refreshing and a nice change to the usual high school YA novels, and the tangled family relationships were incredibly believable and authentic.

Made in Korea also had some really nice messages about communication and connection to your different ethnic backgrounds, which I loved reading about, as someone who has always wanted to connect with their Vietnamese side a little more. The everyday stuggle of being a teen and trying to work who you are and where you fit-in was obvious throughout the novel, combined with the difficulty of family expectations and Asian parents, and the gorgeous element of first love.

“there was a world inside all of us. A world that grew as we let people in, allowing them to shape us in ways we could never do alone.”
(A quote from Halmeoni. This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

I also really loved the change of stereotypical gender roles in Made in Korea! For once, the boy was the shy, awkward new kid, and the girl was straightforward and intimidating and strong-minded. It was such fun to see this, and I loved the way that both characters developed throughout the book. Made in Korea also talked about the difficulties of communication and confusion amongst friends and family, showing that maybe humans aren’t as wonderful at communicating as we think we are. Incredibly realistic, and so beautiful to see!

“it never is just about the one conversation, is it? It’s about being brave enough to start it, wise enough to choose the right words, and self-aware enough to even know what’s going on inside your brain. That’s a lot of things that have to line up all at once. It’s kind of a miracle that people are able to communicate properly at all.”
(Pauline talking to Charlie. This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was something refreshing and sweet. Such a cute storyline! Thank you so much to the author, publisher and TBR & Beyond Tours for the ARC copy!
Profile Image for nitya.
385 reviews277 followers
June 6, 2021
Super cute and I really liked the writing style, it pulled me in and never let go.

If you enjoy enemies to lovers with miscommunication and a focus on women entrepreneurs, this ticks all the boxes :)

And always here for soft boys who wear glasses as love interests!

Content warning: hospitalization of a family member, toxic relationship (not between main pairing)
Profile Image for CW ✨.
670 reviews1,714 followers
August 15, 2021
Made in Korea is one of the most satisfying romantic contemporaries I've ever read; it just felt like a balm to the soul.

- Follows Valerie Kwon, a Korean-American teen who owns a Korean beauty business operating from her school locker, in the hopes to fund a trip-of-a-lifetime with her halmeoni (grandmother). When the new kid in town, Wes Jung, shows up and inadvertently starts his own K-pop merchandise business, hoping to fund his college applications, the two come head to head - and maybe fall in love too.
- Something that I felt was so refreshing was how every character was Asian - and they were all complex, fascinating, and engaging characters. I think I loved every single character; they were delightful in their own way.
- Valerie's character arc was so good; how her goals and ambitions become embedded into her identity, to the point that it consumes her, really resonated with me.
- The rivals-to-friends-to-lovers romance was so soft, vulnerable, and lovely, and I really enjoyed how the story handled miscommunication.
- Plenty of fluff balanced well with emotional depth. I loved how the story explores identity, complex family dynamics, and the unfortunate costs of pursuing your dreams.

Trigger/content warning: ill loved one; family conflict; hospitals

I received a digital advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alex (The Scribe Owl).
363 reviews112 followers
July 7, 2021
See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl!

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

3.5/5 stars

It's really hard to write reviews for books where there's little to nothing to say. While Made in Korea had all the elements of a good book, we didn't really connect. In this case, it's probably more of an "it's not you, it's me" situation, but while the book was basically good, it just wasn't working for me.

Pre-read rating estimate: 3.5 stars
Final rating: 4 stars
Profile Image for Rachel Solomon.
Author 11 books6,367 followers
December 4, 2019
I was lucky enough to read an early version of this, and it is SO FREAKING CHARMING, oh my god. Adored every word.
Profile Image for  ⛅ Sunny (sunnysidereviews) ⛅.
342 reviews122 followers
July 11, 2021
4.5 stars!

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book via TBR and Beyond Tours and Simon & Schuster Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This was everything I ever needed! Rival school businesses and K-Beauty will always be a win in my book. What makes this novel so special is that the characters make bad decisions while still remaining logical. You typically see people making bad decisions emotionally, never logically, so that was very refreshing to see. Also, I think it's worth mentioning that despite being marketed as a rom-com, I really don't think it is one as the book deals with a lot of of hard hitting topics. Essentially what I'm saying is that if you're looking for a funny enemies to lovers, you most likely won't get that from Made In Korea Anyways, on with the review!

What I loved most about this book is that Valarie and Wes had very distinct personalities. They each have their own goals, and progressively became the best versions of themselves as the story went along. There was an abundance of character development, and I loved seeing them grow. I'll admit, at first I didn't like Wes. I couldn't understand why everyone, including himself, kept of saying that he was so nice. I didn't think he was nice till the last 30 percent of the book. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed reading about Valarie and Wes' relationship dynamic.

The side characters were such a joy! Charlie, Valarie's cousin and business partner, will forever be my all time favorite book character! I don't think I've ever read about someone so incredibly wholesome. Taemin was also absolutely hilarious, and he genuinely made me laugh. Kristy was another great character too. Furthermore, Valarie and her halmeoni (grandmother), had such a cute relationship. I loved how much they cared about each other, it felt so real and genuine. Valarie's older sister Samantha was a character I could really resonate with. She has all these expectations placed on her because she's the eldest sibling, and it's something that Valarie will never understand. I was interested in their relationship, and would like to have seen more interactions between them. Pauline however, I wasn't too fond of. In my opinion, she was a fairly dull character, and I couldn't see why Charlie could like her. It felt as though he had a crush on Pauline just for the sake of it. Her infatuation with marine biology was cool though.

The dialogue in Made in Korea was very well written, I really felt all the emotions the characters were experiencing. This novel contains by far one of the best dialogues I have ever read. It was extremely raw and heart-wrenching. I loved every bit of it.

In addition, the writing style was simple and easy to follow. It's told by the perspectives of Valarie and Wes. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I can't tell the difference between the perspectives of characters. Thankfully, they were easy to tell apart. My only complaint is that the constant italics complicated things a bit. Nevertheless, the story had me hooked on every word.

The overall enjoyment level of Made in Korea is through the roof! You'll definitely not want to put it down. If you love the idea of entrepreneurial enemies to lovers, or love it when opposite attract, than this one is definitely the book for you! I highly recommend this book to all Young Adult fans!


Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Some use of alcohol

Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,239 followers
January 10, 2021
There are many reasons to put this book on your TBR (if you don't already have it there). Sarah Suk's characters are full of life and vinegar, flawed and entirely human. Valerie's hi-chews and Wes's softness are some highlights but I loved Valerie's halmeoni most of all. With MADE IN KOREA, Suk reiterates that Korean culture is more than KPop and KDramas. She presents an ensemble of delightfully complex characters living young and often angry lives. You know, I really liked Taemin as well (it may be because he likes bingsu as much as I do). Definitely recommended.
Profile Image for gauri.
195 reviews459 followers
November 30, 2021
a fun, feel good contemporary with delightful teens, who learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals as two students become business rivals. i really liked valerie's character arc, being a business oriented person whose goals form her identity but soon realises her mistakes. wes is a charming character, headstrong about pursuing his music career. while their romance took a while to sit with me, their overall development made me like them by the end. the commentary on immigrant experiences, of the feeling of not belonging anywhere and the strong asian feels everywhere felt so good to read about, added subtly to the plot.. i also loved val's relationship with her halmeoni! it was so sweet and uplifting. the side characters were a wonderful mix to the story, adding a strong effect to it.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,873 reviews695 followers
May 24, 2021
Exactly what I want out of a YA romance, I had so much fun with this! I especially loved seeing them make actual mistakes as I feel like YA protagonists sometimes "have" to be a little too perfect for their age (or for human beings, tbh).
Profile Image for Ayushi (bookwormbullet).
505 reviews911 followers
August 7, 2021
This was such a cute, fluffy YA romance! I could totally see this novel becoming a fun teen movie. Valerie, Charlie, and Wes were so much fun to follow and I adored all of their relationships with each other, with other classmates, and with their family.

I also LOVED the grumpy girl x sunshine boy trope in this book. I went into Made in Korea expecting rivals-to-lovers, and so I was expecting both Wes and Valerie to be super cutthroat with each other, but seeing Wes always be thinking about Valerie's needs and being this adorable, sweet love interest was so cute 😭 Charlie and Pauline were also adorable (literally any line that came out of Charlie's mouth was hilarious—I kept laughing in every scene he was in) and my fingers are crossed that things work out between them beyond the pages of this story!

Additionally, the discussions both Wes and Valerie have as second and third generation Korean-Americans about their identity and the pressures they face from their parents to be the perfect son and daughter was soooo accurate. I also liked the feminist commentary of Valerie being super dedicated to V&C K-Beauty and considering herself a successful businesswoman, only for her family to call it a 'cute side hobby.' The relationship that Samantha and Valerie have as two sisters was also extremely accurate. As an older sister and a university student, I totally empathized with Samantha's frustrations, yet Valerie's experience as the youngest child in the family was also relatable. I did love the relationship that Valerie had with Halmeoni—it was so pure!

Definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a sweet YA romance/coming-of-age story with adorable characters and honest discussions about identity and familial relationships!
Profile Image for Ashley.
830 reviews484 followers
May 26, 2021
Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars

This was so freakin' great; I loved it so much ! RTC
Profile Image for Leo.
4,390 reviews411 followers
September 1, 2022
3.5 it was a good YA romance novel however I didn't get attached to neither the couple or any of the characters. But I still enjoyed it
Profile Image for n.
98 reviews99 followers
March 27, 2021
Thank you to Netgalley and the author for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book made me realize just how long it's been since I read contemporary YA and it felt like a breath of fresh air. If the cover, title, and description don't already convince you to add this book to your tbr, then I hope this review will.

the characters:
What I really liked about the characters is that you love all of them, even the side characters. There wasn't one side character I wasn't invested in and wanted to see happy and thriving. Case in point, we need Charlie and Taemin companion novels. I loved how the characters weren't your typical types. Wes is the type of boy you'd take home to your grandmother and she'd just gush over how handsome he is. Valerie is smart, career-driven, and super passionate and I loved that about her. Both Wes and Valerie had things they needed to work on to be the best versions of themselves and I liked to see them develop over the course of the book. If anything, just read it for Halmeoni. I loved how supportive she is of Val and overall how funny and cool she is.

the plot:
This was rivals to lovers do I need to say more? Wes and Val are run competing K-beauty student businesses and things get interesting when they have a lot on the line. I also loved the Korean representation. I'm not Korean myself but I love reading and learning about different cultures.

"I wanted to ask if she had heard about my sales and what she thought about it, if I was doing a good job, if the lipstick she was wearing was the same one she had used to write on my shirt."

Listen... if that quote doesn't convince you to read it... Overall, it was a really fun, cute read. I read most of it in a day and it's the kind of book you walk away from smiling. The ending was wrapped up perfectly and it's a very feel-good book.

RIVALS TO LOVERS??? sign me up

update: I GOT AN ARC IM SCREAMING. Dropping everything to start it today omg.

Update: 27/03/2021
I finished but it’s 4 am so Review to come.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,192 reviews341 followers
May 15, 2021
Made In Korea
Sarah Suk

This is a story of entrepreneurial Korean American Senior students competing to be the best K-beauty business at their high school.

Valerie is the brain child of the successful V&C K-BEAUTY that she has operated alongside her cousin Charlie for the past three years, where they sell out completely on release days. Her goal is to save enough money to fulfill her grandmothers’ dream of going to Paris.

Enter Wes Jung, the new student who inadvertently cashes in on the K-beauty business to compete head to head with Valerie. Taking advantage of the situation, Wes uses this opportunity to make some money to fund the application and audition to the music school of his dreams, that his parents would never support, unless of course he changes his major to pre-med.

This book is so much fun to read - it is engaging and immersive and I love learning the Korean words sprinkled throughout. The stories are relatable, and had just the right amount of balance between the funny and tender moments, which I enjoyed. The main characters are engaging and the business competition story plot, upped the ante making this romcom exciting to read.

The story is told in two alternating view points between Valerie and Wes, which helped understand the characters better and learn their back stories and motivations. Overall, this is a wonderfully written YA novel I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Ruei (Ruei's Reading Corner).
128 reviews17 followers
April 24, 2021
Full Review: https://rueisreadingcorner.blogspot.c...

Valerie Kwon runs the best student business, V&C K-Beauty, at school along with her cousin, Charlie. Even though her family thinks V&C K-Beauty is just a hobby, it is so much more to Valerie.

Wes Jung is the new kid at school who secretly wants to pursue a career in music. His mom gives him some k-beauty products as a way to make some new friends at his new school. Turns out, everyone wants them and he soon has a business running.

Soon, the two become top competitors and have to outsell each other. Although they are rivals, what happens when they start to fall in love?

I loved all the characters but I especially loved Valerie's halmeoni and Wes's uncle. Both of them provided support for the MCs and had great advice whenever the parents weren't paying so much attention to them.

I also loved the Korean words the author added to the book as well as Korean culture. From K-pop and K-dramas to delicious food, all of it made me very invested in the book.

Overall, Made in Korea was a super cute and funny book about Wes and Valerie's business competition during their senior year. I enjoyed every second of the rivals to lovers plot and was rooting for them the entire book.

**Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for sending me an Advanced Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest review!**

Profile Image for ikram.
241 reviews631 followers
August 16, 2021
Rating: 3.5 stars

What a funny, adorable book! Made in Korea is a rivals-to-lovers YA romance, featuring a miscommunication trope at the end. Although I'm not usually a fan of miscommunication trope, I really enjoyed how it turned out. Made in Korea is a story of Valerie Kwon, a Korean-American girl who's running a Korean beauty business with her cousin, Charlie, to fund her trip with her halmeoni. Her popularity and business are put on risk when a new kid, Wes Jung, sells a K-pop branded beauty products to save some money to help him pay a music school tuition. They become competitors in school and more than once betting against each other, to see who's on top of the other. Truthfully, the main reason why I read this is book because the premise looks fun and I need more fun books to read. Made in Korea indeed lives up to my expectation.

At first, Valerie annoyed me, but she has the best character arc in the story. She is an ambitious-competitive person, sees everyone as nothing but her consumers or competitors, and selfish. I don't like the way she treats Wes and her dedication to ruins his business. Sure, this is part of her characterization; that she takes her business seriously and she wants to win the biggest prize; her trip with her halmeoni. Looking back at it, I realized this may come from the way Valerie needs to be better than her sister, Samantha. Her family constantly compares her to Samantha and this is probably the reason why she's competitive in her own way. Although, Valerie does learn to get better toward the end--and I must admit it's fascinating to see her as a character, but it doesn't change my feeling about her.

In comparison to Valerie as a character, Wes seems less complex. He loves playing saxophone, he has a dream to enroll in a music school--but his father does not approve of this. He sees Wes' love for music is just a side hobby and asks Wes to enroll in few universities of his choice instead. It is stressed that Wes is a people-pleaser type of guy; he upsets when he thinks he makes people angry, he wants to please people, he wants everyone to like him so he'd do everything he could to achieve that--even if it's betraying his family and friends.

Their relationship is cute though and I am glad they handled their miscommunication wisely, but I crave for more of their interaction other than competing against each other. Overall, I enjoyed this book. Sarah Suk did amazing job as a debut author!

Profile Image for kate.
1,227 reviews950 followers
May 20, 2021
This is the first and only book I've read in one sitting in..... I don't know how long and I think that says a lot. This book is warm, charming, utterly adorable and the epitome of a well executed rivals-to-lovers romance. The characters were wonderful, the chemistry between Val and Wes was everything and the multiple relationship dynamics (including that of Val & Wes’s relationship with their Korean heritage) were explored brilliantly. It was easy to read in the best way and is a book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Profile Image for prutha.
126 reviews53 followers
April 13, 2021
please this was the cutest,,, i need a moment 😭😭

check out my kpop playlist for Made In Korea here!

Made in Korea follows two MCs— Valerie Kwon and Wes Jung who are young entrepreneurs running rival businesses. Valerie runs the most famous student-run business, V&C K-BEAUTY at her school with her cousin Charlie. Valerie, who has always been belittled by her family, wants to prove that V&C K-BEAUTY isn’t just a “cute little hobby” by saving up enough to take her sweet grandmother to her dream city, Paris.

Wes is the new guy at school who despite his parents’ disapproval, secretly wants to pursue music after he graduates. When his mom gives him some K-pop branded beauty products to help him make new friends at school, he uses this opportunity to sell them to make some money to help him apply for music colleges. What he doesn’t realize is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s largest competitor.

With everything at risk, both Valerie and Wes have to try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the title for the best business in school. But what if they slowly start to fall in love?

“When you choose the path of an artist, nothing is promised, but everything is possible.”

Let me just say, this book easily is one of the funniest, cheesiest and cutest contemporaries I’ve ever read. Contemporaries are something that I don’t usually pick up because of the lack of character development but Made In Korea has some of the best fleshed-out characters I’ve ever seen in a contemporary. Not only the main characters but even the side characters such as Charlie and Taemin were written wonderfully.

Another character who I would like to talk about is Valerie’s halmeoni. She was such a pleasure to read about and as someone who has an amazing grandmother as well, the cute moments Valerie had with her grandma really made me tear up!

I don’t really care about romance in books but I can confidently say that romance was the best part of this entire novel. The yearning, the awkwardness just made it impossible for me to put this down.

“Was it the guilt again or something different, something to do with the way Wes was looking at me?”

I loved that Sarah did not hesitate from including Korean words throughout the novel, plus all the food descriptions?? (I really need to try Bingsu ASAP) This book was unapologetically Korean and I loved seeing that!

What set it apart from the typical YA rom-cons was that it dealt with issues such as what it feels to be a diaspora kid, the pressure from Asian parents to pursue something they want you to and embracing the imperfections in life.

Though the plot was thin and kind of predictable, this book gave me so much joy and I will always be grateful for that. I can officially say that I found a comfort read!

Overall, Made In Korea was an unputdownable novel full of serotonin. It embraced Korean culture to the finest with moments that made you laugh and cry and eventually come back for more.

Representation: Korean-American MCs, Biracial (half-Korean, half-White) side character, POC side characters.

Trigger Warnings: Loved one with chronic illness

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way.

All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in the final publication

//buddy read with katie <3
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