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South Korea's Global Book Exports

Books exported to the U.K., the U.S. and other parts of Europe

 

2019.08.05

 

Several High quality South Korean books have recently been translated into a variety oflanguages and have been warmly received around the world. What is it then, about these South Korean books that enticed global readers? The answers are below as we take a look at recent South Korean book exports and the response regarding those books from publishing markets in the U.K., the U.S. and other parts of Europe.

 


Lee Ji-min's Marilyn and Me, a portrait of wounds and healing from the Korean War

 

Cover art for the U.K. version of Lee Ji-min's <Marilyn and Me>

Cover art for the U.K. version of Lee Ji-min's Marilyn and Me

 

The author of books like Modern Boy (Munhakdongne) and A Love Virus (Jamobook), Lee Ji-min saw her book Marilyn and Me (That Book) translated and published in the United Kingdom on July 11. The English version of the book was published by 4th Estate, a publisher there. The same publication will be released in the United States by publisher Harper in September under a different title, The Starlet and the Spy. To drive its plot forward, the book uses an actual 4-day visit to South Korea by Marilyn Munroe decades ago and tells the story of a fictional woman named Alice who acted as an interpreter for the movie star. The novel tells the story of the Korean War through Alice, and depicts the wounds inflicted by the war and subsequent healing. Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschiwitz, said, "This story of the unlikely meeting of two vulnerable women is a beautifully woven page-turner. The battle-weary woman and the pin-up girl who meet, connect, separate: each changed by the brief union". "This short and haunting novel gives the reader an insight into a war that's largely been forgotten...This is a dark, impactful story of bleak survival, brilliantly translated from Korean, with raw and shocking images that tend to linger...a bone-chilling read," said U.K.-based Irish Independent. Following the releases in the U.K. and the U.S., Marilyn and Me is scheduled to be published in Germany and Italy.

 

 

Hwang Sun-mi's Miracle on Cherry Hill Captivates U.K. Readers

 

Cover art for the U.K. version of Hwang Sun-mi's <Miracle on Cherry Hill>

Cover art for the U.K. version of Hwang Sun-mi's Miracle on Cherry Hill

 

Global bestselling author Hwang Sun-mi has returned with her latest publication, Miracle on Cherry Hill. On the heels of The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly (Sakyejul) and The Dog Who Dared to Dream (Woongjin Thinkbig), this latest book was released in the U.K. on July 4 through Little, Brown. This is a heartwarming new novel about renewal and friendship. It is also a story of a man named Kang Dae-su. His whole life is a miracle, rising from poverty to running a successful construction company. In his twilight years, Kang is diagnosed with a brain tumor. He returns to his childhood home of Cherry Hill. Is it owned by the construction company who is trying to rejuvenate the neighborhood? Or does it belong to the residents who have used the land to play, think, walk, love and explore for generations? Miracle on Cherry Hill is a redemptive story of a damaged man regaining his trust in humanity. It explores the fragility of nature and human lives.

 

 

Beloved by readers around the world, Shin Kyung-sook's The Court Dancer

 

Cover art for the Italian and Finnish versions of Shin Kyung-sook's <The Court Dancer>

Cover art for the Italian and Finnish versions of Shin Kyung-sook's The Court Dancer

 

Acclaimed for novels like Please Look After Mom (Changbi) and I'll Be Right There (Munhakdongne), Shin Kyung-sook recently released her third novel in Italy titled The Court Dancer. Last August, around the time when the novel was published in the United States, the Washington Post said in a review, "Inspired by the true story of a late-19th-century court dancer, Shin's novel explores themes of exoticism, assimilation and identity. By placing Korean history beside a Western narrative, Shin highlights the disparity between Europe and the more isolated Asian nation. At its core, The Court Dancer examines what countries lose in identity in exchange for technological advancement." "A fascinating and lyrical portrayal of a woman and a country at the crossroads of history," said Historical Novels Review of Shin's novel. "Beautifully and evocatively written, the moving and ultimately tragic story of Yi Jin's life resonates like the melodic sound of the Korean flute and lingers hauntingly in your mind. Highly recommended," it went on. The novel has continuously been receiving reviews around the globe ever since it was published. The Court Dancer has been translated and published in other countries aside from Italy and the United States, like France, Finland, Romania, Egypt and China.

 

 

Kwon Jeong-hyun's Knife and Tongue, the artful pinnacle of East Asian imagination

 

Cover art for the French version of Kwon Jeong-hyun's <Knife and Tongue>

Cover art for the French version of Kwon Jeong-hyun's Knife and Tongue

 

The recipient of the seventh Honbul Literary Prize in 2017, Kwon Jeong-hyun's Knife and Tongue (Dasanchaekbang) was published in France by Les Editions Philippe Picquier. The novel takes place in Manchuria in 1945, just before the doom of the Japanese colonial empire then. Three characters narrate the novel: Japanese army commander Mori who is afraid of war, the Chinese chef named Chen who is trying to assassinate him, and a Korean woman named Kilsun. South Korean reviewers have said the novel is a bold and provocative novel that has taken East Asian imagination to another level. The narrators Chen, Mori and Kilsun live lives that are attached to knives and tongues. Nations fight against each other with knives and tongues, but they also understand and pacify each other with knives and tongues through food that brings up special memories. Knife and Tongue has so far been exported to just France, but hopes are high this will be an opportunity for Kwon's literary world to expand to other countries.

 

 


Written by Joseph Lee (President of KL Management)

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Joseph Lee (President of KL Management)

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