Netflix’s biggest show Squid Game has certainly brought the Korean arts and culture to a global stage. If you have watched the show and are in search of more Korean stories, then we have some book recommendations for you.
Human Acts by Han Kang
This novel is based on the 1980 massacre of pro-democracy agitators and student protestors in the city of Gwangju. Kang takes her readers on an arduous journey of suffering faced by her characters after the brutal killings of the protestors. The killing orders were given by the then South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan. He passed away earlier this week. Human Acts is translated from Korean by Deborah Smith.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Written by American-Korean author Min Jin Lee, Pachinko traces the story of a woman in Japan-ruled Korea. The epic historical fiction novel follows the Korean family that immigrated to Japan and face discrimination for their Korean lineage. The novel has been adapted for screen and will be released on Apple TV starring Lee Min Ho as one of the lead characters.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
This novel highlights the microaggressions faced by an ordinary Korean woman which ends up affecting her mental health. Although the novel talks about the Korean society and how it discriminates and stereotypes the role of a woman, Cho’s novel has a universal appeal for women across the globe.
The Interpreter by Suki Kim
A murder mystery written by Suki is a story of a Korean immigrant who has a turbulent past which includes two rocky relationships with married men, estrangement from her sister, a string of unsatisfying jobs and the guilt of cutting ties with her parents before both were shot dead in an unsolved double murder.
Drifting House by Krys Lee
This novel narrates the story of a collective past shared by Korean people. The novel talks about the socio-political developments of the country which includes war, famine, dictatorship, and a shifting political landscape. The novel describes the dramatic upheaval of the postwar decades in North and South Korea and in the Korean immigrant communities of the United States.