Korean Must-Reads

By Nicole Simpkin

Books. Something of wonder that allows your mind run free with imagination and lets out that creativity inside of you, as somewhat of a stress reliever (though a lot of books can get quite stressful). Sitting at home with a nice warm cup of [insert hot beverage here], feet up, book in hand, and a whole world in your head. It’s quite magical. Well, if you’re interested in reading, and want to familiarise yourself a bit more with Korea at the same time, then why not read a Korean book? Unsure where to start? Let us help!

  • The Vegetarian

A seemingly simple change that the protagonist of this three-part novel decides to make: becoming a vegetarian. She just never expected it to rock the boat as much as it did. This novel highlights the issues and struggles that arise when someone makes the personal decision to become a vegetarian, and how the relationships with those around them become affected as they struggle to understand her thoughts. Though it may be a bit different to what you may expect to see on the bookshelf, this work still strikes a spot that many haven’t thought about before and therefore makes for an interesting and emotional read.

  • I'll Be Right There

This book is set in Korea of the 1980s and follows the story of a young woman as she revisits her uneasy past—family trauma, friends, lovers. The novel highlights the fragility of life and the connections we make with those who we share our lives with. This story acts more like an eye-opener and is good for those who want to get lost in the life of a fictional character, all the while relating some of the messages to their own lives. Emotion is rife in this piece, and you’ll be kept wanting to read on.

  • Please Look After Mom

Having sold over one million copies, this book is going to make you change the way you see and appreciate your mom. When the mother is separated from her family in a subway station and suddenly goes missing, the family naturally start to send out leaflets and fliers and find themselves questioning if they actually know who the woman they call "Mother" really is. This book highlights how easily we can assume we know everything about someone without actually knowing them at all and how easily we take them for granted. Whether you have a mother, are a mother or not, this work will certainly strike strong emotion in your heart and get you thinking. 

  • One Hundred Shadows

Set within the slums of an area known for its skyscrapers and highly-developed infrastructure, the underdeveloped area has been set for demolition. This read highlights the difficulties of those living in poorer conditions, where their health and safety is questioned by the buildings in which they live, and the struggles they have to go through just to get by. It follows two main characters who build a friendship by working in the same repair shop, and has some deep lines about following one's shadow that are quite conceptual while also keeping to the realistic side that helps us see what life is like for those less fortunate. You’ll be glad to know this novel includes some lighthearted humour as well.

Each of the listed books can be found translated in English, so add at least one new book to your reading list, exploring topics that maybe you would never have thought of!

Let us know if you’ve read any of these novels and what you thought of them, and don't forget to leave any suggestions for us, too! We love hearing from our SnackFever Fam! 

Written by Nicole Simpkin

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