The Best Korean Novels in English | Must Read Korean Books

Korean Novels

Korean Novels are known for groundbreaking stories, a remarkable mixture of various genres and unique style of description. It is nothing unusual that Asian countries are growing fond of Korean Books and Korean Dramas that are based on such books.

Korean Stories are so interesting that every Bestselling Korean Novel is now being translated into English and sold through various e-commerce websites. It would not be wrong if we say that Korean Content is now an addiction to all of us.

Keeping in mind how you must be very keen to know about the best Korean novels in English, here we have curated a list for you.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2023

The Korean Saviour

Author: Chandra Kant Jaisansaria

Year of Publication: 2023

Genre: Romance, Horror, Fantasy, Drama, Comedy, Mythology and Paranormal

Description: Rudra’s casual meeting with Disha brings his relationship with Seo Yoon at stake. While Disha is the cruel spirit of his disloyal wife from his previous life, Seo Yoon is his present girlfriend who hails from the family of a Goblin. Disha plans to kill Rudra and his friends while they trek to Kheerganga. On the other hand, Seo Yoon is out to save everyone from Disha’s spirit with the help of her Goblin uncle. The Goblin also has a gloomy past with something to do with Disha’s spirit. Will he be at peace after he slays Disha’s head with the help of a Grim Reaper? Read on to know the story of an Indo-Korean couple looking for a peaceful life ahead and a Goblin who has lived for over a thousand years and is looking to return to ashes.

The Specters of Algeria

Author: Hwang Yeo Jeong

Year of Publication: 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction

Description: A group of dramatists that commit what was a subversive act during the South Korean military dictatorships of the twentieth century – distributing copies of Karl Marx’s only surviving play, The Specters of Algeria. The consequences of the brutal crackdown by the authorities would set the directions of the lives of two children of the group’s members, Yul and Jing. Despite the deep connection between them, Yul would open up an alteration shop in Seoul and Jing would move to Europe. But now, Cheolsu, a dissatisfied employee at a community theatre, is unearthing the truth about The Specters of Algeria and questioning whether the human situation is as absurd as the play asserts.

Togani

Author: Gong Ji-Yeong

Year of Publication: 2023

Genre: Crime Fiction

Description: Atmospheric and fast-paced, this novel of manners set in a provincial South Korean city leads readers through the silent corridors of a school for hearing-impaired children and the city’s foggy back streets and murky centers of power to a stirring courtroom climax. Gong Ji-young’s Togani (The Crucible), published in Korean in 2009, is based on a historic case of child sexual abuse at a state-run institution. The novel went on to sell nearly a million copies and, along with a 2011 film adaptation directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, prompted the South Korean National Assembly to pass the “Togani Laws” to provide greater legal protections for children and vulnerable adults under state care and harsher penalties for those convicted of their abuse. At a time when Korean popular culture drives cultural production worldwide, Togani reminds us of the power of fiction to effect meaningful societal change.

A story of courage in the face of corruption, Togani offers nuanced portraits of a failed young businessman seeking a new life as a teacher and his counterpart, a young woman committed to a career in human rights; a police officer of humble origins who rose through the ranks as he turns a blind eye to the abuse of students by the school’s administrators; and a hearing-impaired teenage girl, a victim of that abuse, who cares deeply for the other children at the school. The book testifies to the legacy of neo-Confucian class conflict, gender disparity, and the vulnerability of those near the bottom of the social ladder. It is a heart-wrenching and provocative work that helped bring about change to a system it dared to challenge.

Walking Practice

Author: Dolki Min

Year of Publication: 2023

Genre: Horror

Description: Squid Game meets The Left Hand of Darkness meets Under the Skin in this radical literary sensation from South Korea about an alien’s hunt for food that transforms into an existential crisis about what it means to be human.

After crashing their spacecraft in the middle of nowhere, a shapeshifting alien find themself stranded on an unfamiliar planet and disabled by Earth’s gravity. To survive, they will need to practice walking. And what better way than to hunt for food? As they discover, humans are delicious.

Intelligent, clever, and adaptable, the alien shift their gender, appearance, and conduct to suit a prey’s sexual preference, then attack at the pivotal moment of their encounter. They use a variety of hunting tools, including a popular dating app, to target the juiciest prey and carry a backpack filled with torturous instruments and cleaning equipment. But the alien’s existence begins to unravel one night when they fail to kill their latest meal.

Thrust into an ill-fated chase across the city, the alien is confronted with the psychological and physical tolls their experience on Earth has taken. Questioning what they must do to sustain their own survival, they begin to understand why humans also fight to live. But their hunger is insatiable, and the alien once again targets a new prey, not knowing what awaits. . . .

Dolki Min’s haunting debut novel is part psychological thriller, part searing critique of the social structures that marginalize those who are different—the disabled, queer, and nonconformist. Walking Practice uncovers humanity in who we consider to be alien, and illuminates how alienation can shape the human experience.

Walking Practice features 21 black-and-white line drawings throughout.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2022

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki

Author: Baek Sehee

Year of Publication: 2022

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Mental Health, Self Help and Psychology.

Description: Baek Sehee is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she begins seeing a psychiatrist about her – what to call it? – depression? She feels persistently low, anxious, endlessly self-doubting, but also highly judgemental of others. She hides her feelings well at work and with friends; adept at performing the calmness, even ease, her lifestyle demands. The effort is exhausting, overwhelming, and keeps her from forming deep relationships. This can’t be normal.

But if she’s so hopeless, why can she always summon a yen for her favourite street food, the hot, spicy rice cake, tteokbokki? Is this just what life is like?

Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a 12-week period, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions and harmful behaviours that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse. Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness.

Violets

Author: Kyung-Sook Shin

Year of Publication: 2022

Genre: Asia History

Description: We join San in 1970s rural South Korea, a young girl ostracised from her community. She meets a girl called Namae, and they become friends until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of physical intimacy in a minari field, Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path of quashed desire and isolation.

We next meet San, aged twenty-two, as she starts a job in a flower shop. There, we are introduced to a colourful cast of characters, including the shop’s mute owner, the other florist Su-ae, and the customers that include a sexually aggressive businessman and a photographer, who San develops an obsession for. Throughout, San’s moment with Namae lingers in the back of her mind.

A story of desire and violence about a young woman who everyone forgot, VIOLETS is a captivating and sensual read, full of tragedy but also beauty in its lush, vibrant prose.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2021

Crying in H Mart

Author: Michelle Zauner

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Food, Music and Autobiography

Description: In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band – and meeting the man who would become her husband – her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live.

It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious, lyrical and honest, Michelle Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

Lemon

Author: Kwon Yeo Sun

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: Mystery, Crime and Thriller

Description: In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Shifting between the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates struck in different ways by her otherworldly beauty, Lemon ostensibly takes the shape of a crime novel. But identifying the perpetrator is not the main objective here: Kwon Yeo-sun uses this well-worn form to craft a searing, timely exploration of privilege, jealousy, trauma, and how we live with the wrongs we have endured and inflicted in turn.

Love in the Big City

Author: Sang Young Park

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: LGBT and Romance

Description: Young is a cynical yet fun-loving Korean student who pinballs from home to class to the beds of recent Tinder matches. He and Jaehee, his female best friend and roommate, frequent nearby bars where they push away their anxieties about their love lives, families, and money with rounds of soju and ice-cold Marlboro Reds that they keep in their freezer. Yet over time, even Jaehee leaves Young to settle down, leaving him alone to care for his ailing mother and to find companionship in his relationships with a series of men, including one whose handsomeness is matched by his coldness, and another who might end up being the great love of his life.

A brilliantly written novel that takes us into the glittering nighttime of Seoul and the bleary-eyed morning after with both humor and emotion, Love in the Big City is a wry portrait of millennial loneliness as well as the abundant joys of queer life.

My Brilliant Life

Author: Ae-Ran Kim

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: Family and Drama

Description: Ae-ran Kim’s My Brilliant Life explores family bonds and out-of-the-ordinary friendships, interweaving the past and present of a tight-knit family, finding joy and happiness in even the most difficult times.

Areum lives life to its fullest, vicariously through the stories of his parents, conversations with Little Grandpa Jang—his sixty-year-old neighbor and best friend—and through the books he reads to visit the places he would otherwise never see.

For several months, Areum has been working on a manuscript, piecing together his parents’ often embellished stories about his family and childhood. He hopes to present it on his birthday, as a final gift to his mom and dad; their own falling-in-love story.

Through it all, Areum and his family will have you laughing and crying, for all the right reasons.

Seven Years of Darkness

Author: You-Jeong Jeong

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Horror and Suspense

Description: A young girl is found dead in Seryong Lake, a reservoir in a remote South Korean village. The police immediately begin their investigation.

At the same time, three men – Yongje, the girl’s father, and two security guards at the nearby dam, each of whom has something to hide about the night of her death – find themselves in an elaborate game of cat and mouse as they race to uncover what happened to her, without revealing their own closely guarded secrets.

When a final showdown at the dam results in a mass tragedy, one of the guards is convicted of murder and sent to prison.

For seven years, his son, Sowon, lives in the shadow of his father’s shocking and inexplicable crime. When Sowon receives a package that promises to reveal at last what really happened at Seryong Lake, he must confront a present danger he never knew existed.

Dark, disturbing, and full of twists and turns, Seven Years of Darkness is the riveting new novel from the internationally celebrated author of The Good Son.

The Prisoner

Author: Hwang Sek Yong

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: Biography and Autobiography.

Description: In 1993, writer and democracy activist Hwang Sok-yong was sentenced to five years in the Seoul Detention Center upon his return to South Korea from North Korea, the country he had fled with his family as a child at the start of the Korean War. Already a dissident writer well-known for his part in the democracy movement of the 1980s, Hwang’s imprisonment forced him to consider the many prisons to which he was subject-of thought, of writing, of Cold War nations, of the heart.

In this capacious memoir, Hwang’s life is set against the volatile political backdrop of modern Korea, a country subject to colonialism, Cold War division, a devastating war, decades of authoritarian dictatorships, a mass democratic uprising, and a still-lingering, painful division between North and South. The Prisoner moves between Hwang’s imprisonment and scenes from his life-as a boy in Pyongyang and Seoul, as a young activist protesting South Korea’s military dictatorships, as a soldier in the Vietnam War, as a dissident writer first traveling abroad-and in so doing, braids his extraordinary life into the dramatic revolutions and transformations of Korean society during the twentieth century.

To the Warm Horizon

Author: Choi Jin-Young

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: LGBT, Queer, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Lesbian, Romance  and Speculative Fiction

Description: A group of Koreans are making their way across a disease-ravaged landscape—but to what end? To the Warm Horizon shows how in a post-apocalyptic world, humans will still seek purpose, kinship, and even intimacy. Focusing on two young women, Jina and Dori, who find love against all odds, Choi Jin-young creates a dystopia where people are trying to find direction after having their worlds turned upside down.

Lucidly translated from the Korean by Soje, this thoughtful yet gripping novel takes the reader on a journey through how people adjust, or fail to adjust, to catastrophe.

Xoxo

Author: Axie Oh

Year of Publication: 2021

Genre: Romance and Music

Description: Jenny didn’t get to be an award-winning, classically trained cellist without choosing practice over fun. That is, until the night she meets Jaewoo. Mysterious, handsome, and just a little bit tormented, Jaewoo is exactly the kind of distraction Jenny would normally avoid. And yet, she finds herself pulled into spending an unforgettable evening wandering Los Angeles with him on the night before his flight home to South Korea.

With Jaewoo an ocean away, there’s no use in dreaming of what could have been. But when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does she meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo.

Finding the dreamy stranger who swept you off your feet in your homeroom is one thing, but Jaewoo isn’t just any student. Turns out, Jaewoo is a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating anyone.

When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love. XOXO is a new romance that proves chasing your dreams doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your heart, from acclaimed author Axie Oh.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2020

If I Had Your Face

Author: Frances Cha

Year of Publication: 2020

Genre: Feminism

Description: In South Korea, where impossible beauty standards and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move, four women are balancing on a razor’s edge:

Kyuri, a beautiful ‘room salon’ girl paid to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours.

Miho, an artist whose life becomes enmeshed with the offspring of the super-wealthy elite.

Ara, a hairstylist whose obsession with a K-pop star leads her to violent extremes.

Wonna, their neighbour, pregnant with a child that she can’t afford.

Set in the drinking dens and beauty salons of Seoul, If I Had Your Face is an electrifying debut novel about female strength, resilience and the solace that friendship can provide.

One Left

Author: Kim Sum

Year of Publication: 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction and War

Description:

During the Pacific War, more than 200,000 Korean girls were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers. They lived in horrific conditions in “comfort stations” across Japanese-occupied territories. Barely 10 percent survived to return to Korea, where they lived as social outcasts. Since then, self-declared comfort women have come forward only to have their testimonies and calls for compensation largely denied by the Japanese government.

Kim Soom tells the story of a woman who was kidnapped at the age of thirteen while gathering snails for her starving family. The horrors of her life as a sex slave follow her back to Korea, where she lives in isolation gripped by the fear that her past will be discovered. Yet, when she learns that the last known comfort woman is dying, she decides to tell her there will still be “one left” after her passing, and embarks on a painful journey.

One Left is a provocative, extensively researched novel constructed from the testimonies of dozens of comfort women. The first Korean novel devoted to this subject, it rekindled conversations about comfort women as well as the violent legacies of Japanese colonialism. This first-ever English translation recovers the overlooked and disavowed stories of Korea’s most marginalized women.

The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart

Author: Chesil

Year of Publication: 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction and Realistic Fiction

Description: Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school—again. Stephanie, the picture book author who took Ginny into her Oregon home after she was kicked out of school in Hawaii, isn’t upset; she only wants to know why. But Ginny has always been in-between. She can’t bring herself to open up to anyone about her past, or about what prompted her to flee her native Japan. Then, Ginny finds a mysterious scrawl among Stephanie’s scraps of paper and storybook drawings that changes everything: The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?

Ginny sets off on the road in search of an answer, with only her journal as a confidante. In witty and brutally honest vignettes, and interspersed with old letters from her expatriated family in North Korea, Ginny recounts her adolescence growing up Zainichi, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, and the incident that forced her to leave years prior. Inspired by her own childhood, author Chesil creates a portrait of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of prejudice, nationality, and injustice all her life—all while searching for a place to belong.

The Disaster Tourist

Author: Yun Ko-Eun

Year of Publication: 2020

Genre: Thriller, Travel, Feminism and Mystery

Description: Yona has been stuck behind a desk for years working as a programming coordinator for Jungle, a travel company specialising in package holidays to destinations ravaged by disaster. When a senior colleague touches her inappropriately she tries to complain, and in an attempt to bury her allegations, the company make her an attractive proposition: a free ticket for one of their most sought-after trips, to the desert island of Mui.

She accepts the offer and travels to the remote island, where the major attraction is a supposedly-dramatic sinkhole. When the customers who’ve paid a premium for the trip begin to get frustrated, Yona realises that the company has dangerous plans to fabricate an environmental catastrophe to make the trip more interesting, but when she tries to raise the alarm, she discovers she has put her own life in danger.

Untold Night and Day

Author: Bae Suah

Year of Publication: 2020

Genre: Magical Realism

Description: It’s 28-year-old Ayami’s final day at her box-office job in Seoul’s only audio theater for the blind. The theater is shutting down and Ayami’s future is uncertain. Her last shift completed, Ayami walks the streets of the city with her former boss late into the night, searching for a mutual friend who is missing. Their conversations take in art, love, food, and the inaccessible country to the north.

The next day, Ayami acts as a guide for a detective novelist visiting from abroad. Almost immediately, in the heat of Seoul at the height of the summer, order gives way to chaos as the edges of reality start to fray. Ayami enters a world of increasingly tangled threads, and the past intrudes upon the present as overlapping realities repeat, collide, change, and reassert themselves.

Blisteringly original, Untold Night and Day upends the very structure of fiction and narrative storytelling and burns itself upon the soul of the reader. By one of the boldest and most innovative voices in contemporary Korean literature, and masterfully realized in English by Man Booker International Prize–winning translator Deborah Smith, Bae Suah’s hypnotic novel asks whether more than one version of ourselves can exist at once, demonstrating the malleable nature of reality as we know it.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2019

The Plotters

Author: Un Su Kim

Year of Publication: 2019

Genre: Action & Adventure and Crime Fiction

Description: Plotters are just pawns like us. A request comes in and they draw up the plans. There’s someone above them who tells them what to do. And above that person is another plotter telling them what to do. You think that if you go up there with a knife and stab the person at the very top, that’ll fix everything. But no-one’s there. It’s just an empty chair.

Reseng was raised by cantankerous Old Raccoon in the Library of Dogs. To anyone asking, it’s just an ordinary library. To anyone in the know, it’s a hub for Seoul’s organised crime, and a place where contract killings are plotted and planned. So it’s no surprise that Reseng has grown up to become one of the best hitmen in Seoul. He takes orders from the plotters, carries out his grim duties, and comforts himself afterwards with copious quantities of beer and his two cats, Desk and Lampshade.

But after he takes pity on a target and lets her die how she chooses, he finds his every move is being watched. Is he finally about to fall victim to his own game? And why does that new female librarian at the library act so strangely? Is he looking for his enemies in all the wrong places? Could he be at the centre of a plot bigger than anything he’s ever known?

Wicked Fox

Author: Kat Cho

Year of Publication: 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Mythology and Paranormal

Description: Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2018

At Dust

Author: Hwang Sok-Yong

Year of Publication: 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction and Architecture

Description: In the evening of his life, a wealthy man begins to wonder if he might have missed the point.

Park Minwoo is a success story. Born into poverty in a miserable neighbourhood of Seoul, he has ridden the wave of development in his country. Now the director of a large architectural firm, his hard work and ambition have brought him triumph and satisfaction. But that all begins to change when he receives a message from a childhood friend he once loved. As memories return unbidden, he recalls a world he thought he had left behind — a world he now realises that he has helped to destroy.

The Court Dancer

Author: Shin Kyung-Sook

Year of Publication: 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction and Romance

Description: When a novice French diplomat arrives for an audience with the Emperor, he is enraptured by the Joseon Dynasty’s magnificent culture, then at its zenith. But all fades away when he sees Yi Jin perform the traditional Dance of the Spring Oriole. Though well aware that women of the court belong to the palace, the young diplomat confesses his love to the Emperor, and gains permission for Yi Jin to accompany him back to France.A world away in Belle Epoque Paris, Yi Jin lives a free, independent life, away from the gilded cage of the court, and begins translating and publishing Joseon literature into French with another Korean student. But even in this new world, great sorrow awaits her. Betrayal, jealousy, and intrigue abound, culminating with the tragic assassination of the last Joseon empress—and the poisoned pages of a book.Rich with historic detail and filled with luminous characters, Korea’s most beloved novelist brings a lost era to life in a story that will resonate long after the final page.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2017

Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Year of Publication: 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

Description: Yeongdo, Korea, 1911. Teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a fisherman, falls for a wealthy yakuza. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant – and that her lover is married – she refuses to be bought.

Facing ruin, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle minister passing through on his way to Japan. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends, Sunja will be forced to make some difficult choices. Her decisions will echo through the decades.

Spanning nearly 100 years of history, Pachinko is an unforgettable story of love, sacrifice, ambition and loyalty told through four generations of one family.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2016

Kim Ji-young, Born 1982

Author: Cho Nam-Joo

Year of Publication: 2016

Genre: Feminism

Description: Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy. Kim Jiyoung is a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own.

Kim Jiyoung is a female preyed upon by male teachers at school. Kim Jiyoung is a daughter whose father blames her when she is harassed late at night.

Kim Jiyoung is a good student who doesn’t get put forward for internships. Kim Jiyoung is a model employee but gets overlooked for promotion. Kim Jiyoung is a wife who gives up her career and independence for a life of domesticity.

Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely.

Kim Jiyoung is depressed.

Kim Jiyoung is mad.

Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.

Kim Jiyoung is every woman.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is the life story of one young woman born at the end of the twentieth century and raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that are relevant to us all. Riveting, original and uncompromising, this is the most important book to have emerged from South Korea since Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.

The White Book

Author: Han Kang

Year of Publication: 2016

Genre: Poetry and Short Stories, Essays

Description: From the author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts comes a book like no other. The White Book is a meditation on colour, beginning with a list of white things. It is a book about mourning, rebirth and the tenacity of the human spirit. It is a stunning investigation of the fragility, beauty and strangeness of life.

Korean Novels in English | Korean Books in English 2015

In Order to Live

Author: Yeonmi Park and Maryanne Vollers

Year of Publication: 2015

Genre: Autobiography and Biography.

Description: In Order to Live, Yeonmi Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea—and to freedom.

Park confronts her past with a startling resilience. In spite of everything, she has never stopped being proud of where she is from, and never stopped striving for a better life. Indeed, today she is a human rights activist working determinedly to bring attention to the oppression taking place in her home country. Park’s testimony is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable.

The Girl with Seven Names

Author: Lee Hyeon-Seo and David John

Year of Publication: 2015

Genre: Autobiography and Biography.

Description: An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

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