What you should read really depends on what you like. Here’s the bulleted version, with more details on some of the works (links lead to Amazon pages, not my reviews) below:
- If you like family tear-jerkers, you must read Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyun-sook. A second good choice is Who Ate Up All The Shinga, by Park Wan-so.
- If you like your novels modern and existential, you should read I Have the Right to Destroy Myself (quite short) or Your Republic is Calling You by Kim Young-ha
- If you like womyn’s lit, check out Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers or consider There a Petal Silently Falls which contains three stories from the priceless Ch’0e Yun.
- For modernish exploration of the cost of development, in a novel of linked short stories, read the The Dwarf by Cho Se-hui, a powerful story of a family crushed by economic development.
- If you like short stories, Waxen Wings is the new standard. Another old reliable is Land of Exile (make sure to get the new edition). A different approach would be to read all 25 of the short Jimoondang/KLTI booklets in the Portable Library of Korean Literature series.
- For humor, you can’t miss with Kim Young-ha’s Whatever Happened to the Guy in the Elevator, which can be found paired with Photo Shop Murder, in one of those short Jimoondang/KLTI books I just mentioned. Another Jimoondang/KLTI publication is My Innocent Uncle by Ch’ae Man-shik and finally, Camellias by Kim Yu-jeong is a bit blunted in translation, but has an amusing story of young love.
There’s more.. tons of it, and if you browse through the reviews available through the “Reviews” tab at the top of this page, you can check some of it out. If you have any specific comment, questions, or recommendations, feel free to email me here!