Difference between Japanese and Korean books

I haven’t read many books in Korean or Japanese yet, but for those who did, what’s a difference you’ve noticed between them?

What kind of differences are you looking for? Are you looking for differences between the same book that’s been translated into Japanese and/or Korean?

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I’ve noticed Japanese books tend to be in Japanese and Korean in Korean.


I’m looking for differences in types of plot or kind of stories told. Is there like a specific genre that only exists in that language?


Oh interesting. Genre and trope differences would be in that vein then? I unfortunately haven’t read any Korean books, but my impressions of k-dramas vs j-dramas has been very different.

Quick example: There is way more focus on romance in k-drama. I often watch crime dramas and in j-dramas there is rarely romance, but in k-dramas it’s more a mixed bag and often romance is implied if not shoving its way into the main plot.


I haven’t seen a lot of modern Japanese film & TV outside of anime, but I’ll also note that K-dramas are obsessed with societal class and interactions between classes. See Parasite / Squid Game as obvious examples.

There’s also a lot of horrible abuse from bosses, customers & boyfriends.

Not sure how much happens in Japanese dramas, but these are characteristics that stick out to me in K-dramas.


Ohh, that’s kind of interesting. Now that you point it out, I think that might’ve been the reason why I got so tired of reading Chinese webnovels. Besides romance, there’s nothing interesting to the plot.

I’ve read many English translations of Korean and Japanese webnovels before. I kind of noticed that both Korean and Japanese webnovels lean towards western fantasy or are set in an European setting. Korean romance novels tend to go in the route of reliving their life again and getting revenge on the people who destroyed their life. Japanese novels are more about isekai.

Recently I’ve been reading the book 간니닌니 마법의 도서관. I noticed that there’s a lot of different types of narrations used to tell the story. There’s comics, dialogue bubbles and even pages where the characters communicate through text messages. I’m not sure if there’s more Korean children’s books that do this or if it’s this one series. But I’m curious to hear if japanese children’s books do this or no?


Oh that’s true. It doesn’t seem to nearly as much a thing in J-dramas. Sometimes you have the “rich prince of the school” trope but it’s not touched on much in the more ‘realistic’ shows.

Using text messages inside of books and TV shows and manga is a huge thing. I feel like LINE has completely ingrained itself in the culture.


I haven’t consumed much Korean media yet (and only in English so far, to see if I like something) but that really stood up to me as well. I don’t know if it’s specific to the stuff I was reading or more general, but there was also a lot of pessimism in terms of people not being able to get better. If you are bad, a criminal, whatever, you’ll be like that forever. That really contrasts the Japanese shonen approach where some opponents, after being shown the errors of their ways (through getting the living heck beaten out of them, usually) may even get the main character’s team.
(Again, I don’t know how common that really is on the Korean side, but that stood out to me)

True. The LINE look-and-feel is super common.


Also not related to books, but in K-Drama and Korean comics, classicism is very prevalent, I think. Japan also likes their Cinderella stories but I feel there is less of the “you are worth less because you are poor” mentality in Japanese media. Also, women seem more whiny in K-Dramas, but that might just be the sound of the language. :thinking: It just seems to me that the women in K-Dramas are constantly complaining to their love-interest about something, to their family about something, to their friends about something, … . :rofl:

The only Korean novel I have read is Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 which was amazing (highly recommended!), but I am not sure it’s representative for Korean fiction as a whole.


In Japanese dramas it’s amazing if the couple having issues talks at all :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: there’s definitely a strong streak of “never mention anything that’s troubling you even if by not doing so there are catastrophic consequences” in J-dramas


Something I just noticed is that Korean translations of Japanese manga retain the Japanese right-to-left layout, whereas Japanese translations flip Korean manhwa (which is usually left-to-right)… :open_mouth:

Just got my copy of 非意図的恋愛談〜俺は恋愛なんか求めてない!~ | L24??, the translation of 비의도적 연애담 1 | L26, and the flipped art gives the characters a bit of a different vibe. :sweat_smile:


I’m reading the Japanese translation of Semantic Error and some things there strike me as interesting.

Both Japanese and Korean are languages who have the social hierarchies incorporated.

The novel takes place in college and one protagonist is the popular social spontaneous and occasionally flaky archetype, the other one is stoic, quiet and doesn’t give much about social hierarchies.

The latter calls the former “sunbae” which is obviously translated as “senpai”, then “hyung” is translated as “oniisan” and the informal Sangwoo-ya is translated as Sangwoo-chan.

It’s a bit of a running joke that some Korean guys have a hyung kink, is there something like this for Japanese guys I wonder?


Slightly off topic (as I can’t really answer your question for irl) but in the English version of this they use the Korean titles(?) rather than English equivalents.

I have seen in certain games with Japanese voice overs, male characters do seem to refer to each other with hierarchal titles but that just could be the types of games I play.

Is there an official translation? I have just seen a fan translation and it was a bit inconsistent sometimes. Or do you mean the drama?

Edit also forgot the web toon exists

I read it on the Manta app. It seems to be an official translation with authorisation to be published by the copyright holder.

You can read up to the last several episodes for free on Manta but you need to pay to read the last few episodes or if you want to read more than one episode in 24 hours as there is a limit of one episode in 24 hours.

In English it definitely makes sense to just keep the honorifics as is. I think with manhwa kpop and kdrama becoming super popular in Japan we might see that more often too. At least I see it often in the subs when I watch my group’s vlogs.

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I haven’t watched this yet, but this popped up in my YouTube feed this week and seems marginally relevant: