For a long time, Koreanliteraturehasbecome the firstchoice in the heartsofyoungreadersbecauseofitscloseandprofoundcontent. Koreanliteraturegivesreaders a senseofpeaceand the details in the storyalwaysleavereaderswithlifelessons.
PopularKoreannovels in manygenres. Nottonlythat, butitistranslated in manydifferent languages, butmostreaderswillchoose the translation to be English. Thanks to the development of the Internetindustry, famousKoreanliteraryworksreachreadersquicklyandmostsuccessfully, theseworksareadaptedintomovies.
Hereis a listofKoreanwordsthatyoushouldnotmiss. The followingtitlesarelike a brightspot in Koreanliterature. Notonlywas the worksuccessful in termsof the marketwhensellingmillionsofcopies, but the workswerealsohighlyappreciatedbycriticsandfamousthroughoutAsiancountries.
1. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
Itisrare to findworkwith a storyandcharactersthatare so ordinary,evennothingspecial,like Cho Nam Joo’s “Kim JiYoung, born in 1982” thatresonatesandis so controversial in manyplacesfromwhichitwasborn, Korea, andotherAsiancountries.
Published in 2016, ithassoldmillionsofcopies, hasbeentranslatedinto 16 languages, andis a bestseller inJapanandTaiwan. The novelupdatestells the storyof a womannamed Kim JiYoungwhohastouchedmillionsoffemalereaders’ hearts, simplybecausetheyseethemselves in her.
According to the NationalLibraryofKorea, from 83.88 millionbookson loan fromlibraries in Korea, the novel “Kim Ji-young, Born 1982” topped the best-sellinglistfortwoconsecutiveyears in thiscountry.
Kim JiYoung, Born in 1982 does more than denounce the realityofKoreansociety thatfavors men anddespiseswomen. However, the bookwasnotonly “hot” whenitreceivedacclaimandpraise, butwasalsonoticedbycontroversy, negativecomments, andharshcommentsforit.
In fact, amongwomenborn in 1982 in Korea, Kim JiYoungis the mostgivenname. Born in 1982, now in her mid-30s. The title Kim JiYoungborn 1982 reflects the author’spurposewhenwritingthisnovel, which is to depict the popularlifeof the vastmajorityofwomennowadays.
2. Love in the BigCity
In Sang-YoungPark’sLove in the BigCity, luxuriating in the senseofbeingbothexposedandshieldedby the badweather.
Park’sEnglishlanguagedebut — asframedbythisremarkablemoment — conveys the confusingenvironmentlivedbySouthKoreangays, ofbeingbothseenandignored, astranslatedbyAntonHurwithsurprisingintensity.
The narrator’sstrength, particularlyhisvoiceflexibilityandexpansiveness, propels the story to newheights, makingit a standoutamong gay fiction. Hur’stranslationsucceeds in translatingPark’sffervescentvoice to English-readingreadersbybeingbrilliant, radiant, andentertaining.
3. The Plotters
Un-Su Kim’simaginativecrimethriller The Plottersisset in an alternativeSeoul in whichmurderguildsstriveformarketsupremacy.
The assassinswhopatrol the gloomyalleywaysofSeoul’sunderworld in Un-Su Kim’s The Plottersareworkingstiffs. Killing peopleforjoyandprofitis a better way to make a livelihood than starvingon the streetsorworking in a factoryoutsideoftown.
The Plottersis a hilariouscomedywith a surprisingamountofheart. The taleswingsback to Reseng’smonthsofundercoveras a factoryworker in onescene. It’s a gut-punchof an emotionalblow, asupsettingandbreathtakingas the book’sactionsections.
The PlottersisKim’sfirstmanhwa to be translatedintoEnglish, andwe’llseetranslationsofhisotherworks, like The Cabinet, about a groupofindividualswhodelettheirmemories, andHotBlood, about the undergroundinhabitantsofKim’scityofBusan.
MyBrilliantLifeis a bestwebtoonsofauthorAe-ran Kim. Itis the storyof a coupleof the world’syoungestparentsand the world’soldest son. The film’sstoryrevolvesaround a boysufferingfromprematureaging: 16 years oldwith an 80-year-old faceand the difficultiesofparentswhosechildrenhave a seriousillness. Thisworkwasadaptedinto a movieandreceivedpositivelyby the audience.
MyBrilliantLifeopenswithAreum – a 16-year-old boywith an oldfacerewriting the storyofhisparents’ brilliant 17-year-old love. Areumwasbornfrom a mistakeofyouth. At the ageof 17, the singingstudentMirapanickedwhenshehad to become a mother, next to the “babyfather” Dae Su wascarefree. Puttingasideall the dreamsandambitionsofyouth, MiraandDae Su togetherbuilt a smallfamilyandraisedAreum in all the hardships.
5. The CourtDancer
YiJin, an orphanedlittlegirl, istaken in by a lovingneighbor in The CourtDancer (translatedbyAntonHur). Thiswoman’ssisteris a ladyof the Koreancourt, andJincatches the Queen’sattentionduringoneofherperiodictrips in the woman’scompany. Itmarks the beginningofherascension in the world, with the Queendisplayingthatsheis a well-trainedandeducateddancer. Jinultimatelybecame the mostproficientperformer in the entirecourt.
The CourtDanceris an enthrallingaccountof a woman’slifeat the start of a newcentury. Shintakesusthroughherheroine’s childhoodandlifeatcourt in a flash, evenincluding the obligatory K-Drama-stylelovetriangle. Yeon, a muteyoungsterwhocomes to livewithJinand the womanwhotookher in, entertainsthemwithhismusicalability, in addition to Victor,the dashing,sensitivediplomat. Itis an exampleof a veryKoreantrope: a boyand a girlgrowinguptogetherbeforefalling in love.
6. UntoldNightand Day
UntoldNightand Day byBaeSuahis the bestKorean-languageliteraturebookthatdepicts the settingof a day and night, possiblyinterwovenbetweenparallelworlds, the storyisabout a formeryoungactressin Seoulwhenshelosesherjobat the poetandis looking for a newone, at the sametimeshefindsherlostGermanteacherisandmeets a
UntoldNightand Day, pennedbyauthorBaeSuah, hasbecome a sensationalnovel in Korea, blurring the boundariesoftimeandspace, givingreaders a surrealliterarypicture to highlight. the horrorsof the millenniumcrisiswhichwassimplytrying to survivewhile the worldmercilesslyattempted to destroyhumans.
7. b, Book, and Me
The bestKoreanliterarynovelthat can prove the narrativeoffriendshipandteenagetransition in 2020 is b, Book, and Me by Kim Sagwa. Childhoodpals, generallyignored, arebulliedatworstby the outsideworldas a result offollowing b andRang’slivesaschildren. Theyviewedeachotheras the centeroftheiruniverse.
Friendshipsareput to the testandruinedwhen Rang inadvertentlyuncoversall the misery in B’sterriblelife in class. Itis a new, honestnarrativewrittenbyauthor Kim Sagwa, bestknownforhisbest-sellingnovelMina.
8. The Hole
AuthorHye-YoungPyun’swork The HoleisoneofKorea’sbest-sellingnovels. A psychologicalthrilleraboutlonelinessand the secretsindividualstry to keephidden.
Ogiawakensfrom a comaaftertriggering a catastrophicautomobileaccidentthatkilledhiswifeand left him paraplegicandbadlyscarred in thissuspenseful, rivetingbookfrom a risingstarofKoreanliterature. Hismother-in-law, a widowwhohaslostheronlychild, ishiscaregiver. Butsoon, Ogiwatcheshismother-in-lawremovingeverythinghiswifehasworked so hard to plantandincessantlyexcavatingholesthatgrowlarger in the abandonedgarden. Whenasked, shesaidthatshewascontinuingwhatherdaughterhadstarted.
Emotionsthathavebeenimprisoned in people’sheartsandbrainscannotalways be spokenopenly. If youcontinue to repressyourfeelings, theywillleakoutviayourbehaviorsandreactions, much like a spongefilledwithwater.
9. The WhiteBook
The WhiteBookis a contemplativemulti-partautobiographyabout the death of the unnamednarrator’ssister, whodiedtwohoursafterbeingborn. Han Kangweavesmanymeaningsintohertwo-hour-long lifeassubtlyas the authordoeswithherdeath. Herbirthstoryisnarrated from the perspectiveofhermother, whowas 22 years old at the timeandwasforced to go intoprematurelaboronherown.
ThisSebaldconceptis the most interestingaspect of The WhiteBook, anditmusthaveinspired the work the most. The narratorbegins to make a listofthingsthatareeitherexplicitlyorindirectlywhite in hisconversationwithhissister’sdeathandlife. Han Kanghopesthat in the processofwriting “will be transformed, willtransformitself, intosomethinglike a whiteointment thatreducesswelling, like a thin gauzepadwrappedaround a woundlove.”
AtDuskbyHwangSok-Yongis a wonderful piece ofKorean, a moving, sometimesdepressingnovelfullofnostalgiathatdepicts a nation’sunderbellyvia the livesofindividualsinhabitingsociety’sbottomstrata.
The storyofAtDusk, translatedbySora Kim-Russell, isrecountedfromtwoperspectives: Minwoo’sand the youngladywhodeliversSoona’smessage. Theyarefromdifferentgenerations, yettheyaredealingwith the sameissues.
AtDuskisfilledwith a subtlesenseofnothingnessthatcomesfrombeingpoorandhaving no viableoptions. That’showthingsare in Korea, and peopleforwhomeducationisnot an option, areforced to accepttheirfateandendure a miserablelifeandlow-payingjobs.
Set in 1940s colonialKoreaandJapanese-occupiedManchuria, EndlessBlueSkytells the lovestorybetweenSouthKoreanwriterIlmaandRussiandancerNadia. The novelisboth a thrillerset in captivatinglocationsthatwillsoon be devastatedbywar, and a boldonethatespousesnewideasaboutlove, marriage, andrace. Reading the storiesofinternationalsocialcommunitiesmakingtheirway in a newworldofluxuryhotels, racetracks, andtaxis, onewillfeel the enthusiasm for the futurethatsome in Koreaatthattime.
HonfordStar’sEndlessBlueSkyEdition, firstedition in English, includes an introductionandfootnotesbytranslatorSteven D. Capener.
EndlessBlueSkynovelsleavereaderswithmanydifferentemotionsthroughcharacterpsychology. Pleaseenjoyandfeel the beautyofthisnovel. Itisconsideredoneof the bestclassicKoreannovels.
CityofAshandRedis a novelfor 2020, althoughitwasfirstpublished in 2010. Without a doubt, PyunHye-youngenvisions a worldwhere a virushas the potential to shutdown, in whichtravelersaretestedforinfectionuponarrivalat the airportandforcedintoquarantine.
The firstpartofHye-youngPyun’snovel The CityofAshesandRed (translatedbySora Kim-Russell)terrified me becauseitexpressedoneofmyworstfears. An unnamed man goes to a foreigncity to get a job, endingupwithout a phone, documents, mostpossessions, and finally the apartmenthisnewownerhasbooked. All the phonenumbers he can callarestored in hisphone. He isalone. Meanwhile, an epidemicand a garbageattackaremaking conditions in the citydistricthe’sputuplike a downrighthell.
Kim-Russell, the translator, reserved the wayPyonkept the nameandidentifieddetailswithus so thiscityandthisprotagonistcould be anywhereandanyone. Becausethisstorycouldtakeplaceanywherewithanynumberofabusivecharacterson the maincharacter’sside, the noveljustgaveonethatmanychills.