Book Talk: Three Korean Authors I Think You'll Love


My first taste of Korean literature was almost entirely nonfiction, as I was consuming a lot of content about North Korea during my time at university. When I finally dove into the world of fiction, I came across three authors in particular that I really latched on to and would love to share them with you today!

Kim Young Ha

First up, Kim Young Ha. I first found him through his short novel ‘I Have The Right To Destroy Myself.” It felt like a much darker and more realistic Murakami story, and as such I fell in love with his writing. The next book I read however was completely different! Black Flower is a work of historical fiction that follows the lives of Koreans who were promised a better future in Mexico after the Korean War. What they really were brought into was a life of slavery and the story is absolutely incredible. Some reviews found the story a bit boring but I was really enthralled, mainly because of my interest in Mexican history as well as Korean. He’s still an influential figure in the Korean art and literature scene so I’m hoping we continue to see more work from him.

I’d also suggest his TED Talk about why you should start creating/writing right now!

Try reading: Black Flower, I Have The Right to Destroy Myself

Han Kang

Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was immensely popular in literature circles around the world when it came out, especially since its translator won a serious award after only learning the Korean language a year or two before. The Vegetarian was like a modern gothic novel that was edging towards a psychological thriller. I think I read it in one sitting and it was really an interesting read. At the time of writing this it’s been over a year since reading it so the details are fuzzy but I remember being completely pulled in! I have yet to finish her other novels but they’re on my list.

Try reading: The Vegetarian

Chang Rae Lee

I picked On Such A Full Sea on a whim when I was browsing the shelves at Kyobo Books and I’m glad I did. The novel centers around a future world where cities are protected and planned, a false utopia similar to the Giver (but with a hint of the Hunger Games as well) On day our protagonist leaves the walls surrounding her city and we follow her as she navigates through the many worlds that exist beyond her town. The middle dragged a bit for me but over all it was a book I’m very happy to have read.

Try reading: On Such a Full Sea

Here’s me explaining my thoughts on these books a while back when they were much more fresh in my mind :)