Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo turned up on my radar when I started seeing posts about the book on Instagram with a variety of covers. I soon learned that the book has been translated into more than a dozen languages, sold millions of copies in South Korea (where it was first written and published), and even inspired a film of the same title.
And if that wasn’t enough to pique my interest, I also learned that the book did a lot to fuel the struggle for gender equality and the #metoo movement in South Korea. The story of Kim Jiyoung depicts the pervasive, incessant discrimination against women in South Korea in the home, workplace, and public spheres, and the negative impacts that discrimination has on one woman’s self-worth and mental health. Needless to say, I think the issues touched on in this novel are important, complex, and timely.
However, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t as swept up in Kim Jiyoung’s story as I expected to be – after all, her life is rather mundane, and that’s a big part of the point Cho Nam-Joo is making in this story. But at the same time, I couldn’t ignore that Kim Jiyoung was hard to feel close to as a reader, and at times the writing in this story feels almost clinical (not to give away the twist at the ending. 🙂 But there’s a lot here to unpack, so I have to ask: did you read this one? What did you make of it?