I’m very excited to be starting this thread for our inaugural Natively Korean book club!
As per our poll results in the interest thread, this club will be broadly “fiction” themed and we will be taking nominations from any genre as long as it is a full length work of fiction. That means mystery, thriller, young adult, general fiction, sci-fi, short story collections, etc. — all are accepted!
I’ve taken some inspiration from the existing Japanese threads for the nomination method and thread format. So, just like the Japanese club threads, you can also find a template for making a nomination below and the nominations section will be updated accordingly as they are submitted so we have an overview of current nominations.
For now I’d say we can leave nominations open until October 7th to give our Korean learning community a chance to find this thread and make a selection, and then we can vote after that!
I look forward to reading and learning together!
Simply copy and paste the below text (not quote) into a reply to nominate!
**Book**: Put a Natively link here!
**Genre**: provide genre if it's clearly stated (mystery/horror/sf/etc), otherwise "general fiction" is fine, or leave blank
**Length**: number of pages, and number of volumes if applicable
**Is there an ebook available?**: yes or no (buying options are visible on the Natively book page)
[details="Summary - Korean"]
you can copy/paste this from wherever you'd like. Please have it in a drop down like shown.
[details="Summary - English"]
Optional! Chuck the above summary into DeepL, Google Translate, or the like. Or remove this section.
[details="Content warnings if known"]
You can't be expected to know all the content of a book you haven't read yet, but if you know it deals with specific heavy topics, or the author is known for doing so, please include it here.
**Why are you nominating this book:** This section is optional, but it's nice to know why someone else is interested in reading a book, and might sway others to vote for it!
I’ll have to think about what to nominate… there’s so much to choose from my TBR pile.
Same! Excited to see your nomination when you decide!
Just noticed the poll doesn’t show who voted - you could delete and make a new one since only the two of us have voted so far.
I’ve updated it now! Thought I had set it to public the first time but it seems like something went wrong. Bear with me as I get this thread set up since I’m not the most savvy discourse user.
@bungakushoujo yes! Very excited
Going to go ahead and make the first nomination!
Book: (페인트 | L31)
Genre: young adult fiction
Length: 204 pages
Is there an ebook available?: Yes - the ebook should be available on most Korean ebook platforms and is also available on Google books.
Summary - Korean
부모 면접을 시작하겠습니다.”
부모를 선택하는 시대,
내 손으로 색칠하는 미래
이희영 작가는 『페인트』를 통해 누구나 한 번쯤 품어 보았을 도발적인 상상력을 펼쳐 보인다. 국가에서 센터를 설립해 아이를 키워 주는 ‘양육 공동체’가 실현된 미래 사회, 청소년이 부모를 직접 면접 본 뒤 선택하는 색다른 풍경을 그린다. 좋은 부모란, 나아가 가족의 의미란 무엇인지를 청소년의 시선에서 질문하는 수작이다.
Summary - English
Taken directly from Papago so apologies for how awkward the translation is!
“I’ll start the parent interview.”
The era of choosing parents,
The future colored by my own hands
Through “Paint,” writer Lee Hee-young demonstrates the provocative imagination that everyone would have had at least once. It depicts a future society where a “custodial community” that raises children by establishing a center in the country is realized, and a unique landscape in which teenagers choose after interviewing their parents in person. Good parents are a masterpiece that asks what family means from the perspective of adolescents.
Why are you nominating this book:
I’m nominating this book for several reasons:
- It’s for younger audiences so it should hopefully be an approachable first read for the book club
- It has a short length at just over 200 pages
- There is an audiobook available on Google books for anyone who wants to get some listening practice alongside reading
- It won the 창비청소년문학상 so I’m personally very curious about it
This is so funny. I was actually thinking about nominating this book. I found a blog that mentoned the book and it seems really interesting. https://speechling.com/blog/the-5-best-korean-ya-books-for-studying-korea/ This should give a bit more information on what the book is about. I’m personally around high beginner/ low beginner so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to read it though I might try it out.
That is a very funny coincidence! And thank you for sharing that link! The summary there is much better than the one on the book’s Yes24 page that I included in my nomination.
If you end up deciding to try it out, we would be glad to have you! You are also more than welcome to come with any questions about the language. I don’t think we have too many advanced Korean readers on the site (?) so the book club will be a place for us to help each other out and learn together in addition to chatting about books.
This has been on my Google Play wish list for a while, having an audiobook available is a big plus!
I thought GP would auto-populate links for audiobooks, but I guess not. I’ll have to start adding them…
The whimsically-titled Wizard’s Bakery was going to be one of my picks, but then I noticed the content warnings on namu wiki: “school violence, suicide, child abuse, murder, arson, child sex crimes, rape, dating violence, etc”…
Book: 소리를 보는 소년 | L30
Genre: YA, historical
Length: 176 pages
Is there an ebook available?: Yes
Is there an audiobook available?: Yes
Summary - Korean
어린이책을 통해 독자를 만나 온 김은영 작가의 첫 청소년 소설이자, 역사 속 시각장애인들의 삶에 따뜻하면서도 감동적인 이야기를 더해 풀어낸 작품이다. 어릴 때 병으로 시력을 잃은 열다섯 살 장만과 그런 형을 살뜰히 보살피면서도 살림까지 도맡아 하는 동생 덕수, 그리고 세상을 떠난 엄마의 빈자리까지 메우며 형제를 보살피는 아버지. 장만이네 세 식구는 먹고살기 힘든 고향을 떠나 조금이나마 형편이 나은 한양에 새로 자리를 잡는다.
하지만 한양에서의 삶도 녹록지 않다. 특히 늘 밝고 활기 넘치는 동생이 안쓰러운 장만은 자신이 시각장애인이라는 게 늘 못마땅하다. 할 수 있는 일이라고는 짚신 엮는 것이 전부일 뿐, 밖으로 돈을 벌기 위해 나갈 수도, 직업을 구하기도 어렵기 때문이다. 그런 형의 마음을 잘 아는 덕수가 우연히 알게 된 관청 일자리에 장만을 데리고 간다. 하지만 그곳에서 불이 나고, 그 불로 인해 오히려 형이 곤경에 처하는 일이 벌어지는데….
Summary - English
This is the first young adult novel by Kim Eun-young, who has met readers through her children’s books, and adds a warm and touching story to the lives of blind people in history. Fifteen-year-old Jang-man, who lost his sight at an early age due to an illness; his younger brother, Duk-soo, who takes care of him while also taking care of the household; and their father, who fills the void left by their mother’s death. The three of them leave their hardscrabble hometown and settle in Hanyang, a city with better conditions.
But life in Hanyang is not easy. Jang-man feels sorry for his younger brother, who is always cheerful and energetic, and he is always unhappy that he is blind. The only thing he can do is weave straw shoes, and he can’t go out to earn money or find a job. Deok-soo, who knows his brother’s heart, takes him to a government job he stumbles upon. However, a fire breaks out there, and it’s the fire that gets his brother in trouble. …
Given the subject matter, I assume ableism rears its ugly head.
Why are you nominating this book: The premise of a young, visually-impaired boy finding his place in the world, set against the backdrop of historic Seoul sounds really interesting! I’d like to read a historical novel, and being YA means it (hopefully) won’t be too challenging.
This looks like a fun suggestion too! It’s going to be hard to decide.
Book: 구미호 식당
Is there an ebook available?: yes (buying options are visible on the Natively book page)
Summary - Korean
“내게 사십구일밖에 시간이 없다면?”
어느 날 갑자기 죽은 두 사람, 망각의 강을 넘기 직전 서호를 만난다. 아직 식지 않은 뜨거운 피 한모금과 사십구일의 시간을 바꾸어 살던 동네로 돌아온다. 하지만 모습은 예전의 그들이 아니고, 밖으로 돌아다닐 수도 없다. 호텔 셰프였던 아저씨와 도영은 구미호 식당을 운영하며 사십구일 동안을 보내는데, 아저씨는 ‘크림말랑’ 메뉴를 SNS 홍보하며 꼭 만나야 할 사람을 기다린다. 딱히 사십구일을 더 살아야 할 이유가 없다고 생각했던 도영, 외롭고 불행하기만 했다고 생각했는데, 모르고 넘어갈 뻔했던 진실과 마주하게 된다. 한순간도 놓칠 수 없는 흥미진진한 이야기가 마지막까지 이어진다.
Summary - English
“What if I had only 49 days?”
One day, two people who died suddenly, meet Seo-ho just before crossing the river of oblivion. He returns to the neighborhood where he lived by changing the time of forty-nine days and a sip of hot blood that has not yet cooled down. But they are not who they used to be, and they can’t walk around outside. The man who was a hotel chef and Do-young spend forty-nine days running a Gumiho restaurant, and the man promotes the “Cream Malang” menu on SNS and waits for someone he must meet. Doyoung, who thought there was no reason to live another forty-nine days, thought he was lonely and unhappy, but he faced the truth that he almost fell without knowing. An exciting story that cannot be missed for a moment continues until the end.
This one is way too hard for me and I probably shouldn’t nominate something I can’t read together with the book club. But it’s on my wish list. The premise seems really interesting so I thought you guys might be interested. If I could somehow figure out how to get it set up so I can use yomi Chan and read with a pop up dictionary, I’ll try to read it too.
By the way, is it ok to nominate multiple books? Is this an all levels Korean book club or just advanced? I’m not sure how this works.
That’s a good question! I’ve set up a poll below to see how everyone feels about multiple nominations starting out here.
Regarding accepted submissions, the intro post has some guidelines:
we will be taking nominations from any genre as long as it is a full length work of fiction
This is flexible and open for interpretation so if you find a full length work of fiction that’s also suitable for beginners that’s cool and we can add it to the nominations! Due to the nature of it needing to be “full length” though, a lot of nominations may skew more towards intermediate and above it that makes sense. This is the first Korean book club on natively so I left the criteria wide so we can get more participants, but if there is a lot of appetite for a specifically beginners club then it could be set up.
Should we allow multiple nominations?
If multiple nominations are allowed, how many should be accepted per person?
- Other (leave a comment)
Thanks for submitting this! It also looks like a fun read (maybe I will just add this to by TBR list myself)!
In terms of a pop up dictionary, I don’t know if there is any mouseover one for Korean like Japanese has with yomi chan (the “tech” for Korean learners is, unfortunately, less advanced than it is for Japanese), but the ebook reading app “RIDI books” has a pop up dictionary built into it that lets you look up Korean words in English or your language of choice on the go. Google books also has google translate built in, so you can use machine translation on both words and longer phrases. Those are both tools I’ve used to help me read from a beginner level 'til now!
Book club admin note: I’ve now created a table with the nominations so far on the home post!
(안락 | L27)소리를 보는 소년 sounds really cool, if the book club doesn’t end up using it I’ll probably just end up reading it anyway (so thanks Biblio for sharing it lol)
Here’s my suggestion though:
Book: [안락 | L27]
Genre: family-centred story
Length: 160 Pages
Is there an ebook avaliable?: Yes - this can be accessed through Natively.
Summary - Korean
죽음도 삶의 중요한 한 순간
‘어떻게 죽을 것인가’좀 더 많은 고민이 필요한 때
병상에서 생을 연명하는 아흔일곱의 이모할머니와 자발적 수명 계획을 세우고 진행하려는 여든여덟의 할머니, 할머니의 결정을 받아들이지 못하는 엄마와 이를 지켜보는 딸 지혜까지, 이 소설은 죽음 앞에 선 다양한 세대 여성들의 감정을 한자리에 불러내온다.
10년 뒤의 근미래에 대한민국의 삶은 어떠할까. 여전히 소수자 혐오 집회와 세대 간 갈등으로 사회뿐 아니라 가정도 분화하고 다투고 있지는 않을까. 이러한 와중에 국회에서는 안락사를 합법화하는 법안이 발의되고, 할머니의 폭탄선언으로 ‘안락사’ 문제가 본격적으로 지혜네 가족에게 침투된다. 갑작스러운 사고로 할아버지를 보낸 할머니는 인사도 없이 사랑하는 가족을 떠나는 일의 안타까움을 뼈아프게 느끼고는 스스로 신변 정리를 시작한다. 그사이 안락사 법안 통과를 위한 국민투표가 진행되고 그 결과는 할머니의 손을 들어준다.
알고 하는 이별이라고 다를 수 있을까마는 할머니는 조용히 가족 한 사람 한 사람과 대화를 나누고 직접 담근 자두주로 온 가족과 건배도 나눈 뒤에 “모두 수고 많았다. 고맙다”라는 말을 남기고 눈을 감는다. ‘아름다운 마무리’라는 말로 고통스러운 삶을 씻어낼 수는 없겠지만, 떠나가시는 할머니의 모습은 그 어느 때보다도 편안해 보였다. 죽음도 삶의 중요한 한 순간인 만큼 이제는 삶의 한가운데서도 죽음에 대해 좀 더 많은 고민을 나누어야 하지 않을까, 소설 『안락』이 조심스럽게 묻고 있다.
Content warnings if known
Euthanasia and grief are regularly covered.
Why are you nominating this book: This was one of the first novels I ever read in Korean, and is still my favourite. It ignited my obsession with reading in Korean, despite my lower comprehension in the book. The book is super short, at only 23k words (at 100wpm thats just under 4 hours, and at 200 wpm thats just under 2 hours (excluding time you may look up words)), and uses a super condensed amount of words - 4k unique - that isn’t super obscure. So I believe it’s a pretty good entryway into adult fiction.
Below are the frequency of words (using a frequency list based of dramas) for anyone interested
5 stars - first 1.5k most common words
4 stars - 1.5k - 5k most common words
3 stars - 5k - 15k most common words
2 stars - 15k - 30k most common words
Thanks for the nomination! That looks super interesting and I might end up reading that if it doesn’t get chosen (along with all the other nominations- they all look great
The breakdown of word frequency is also cool! How did you get the data for that?
There are Korean dictionaries available for Yomichan (if you also use it for Japanese) or Yomichan for Korean (de-inflects Korean verbs; conflicts with original Yomichan). There’s also Toktogi for Chrome.
Seems like all our wish lists are growing… So many great suggestions!