Week 10 of 소리를 보는 소년 👁👂 Korean Fiction Book Club 🇰🇷

Welcome to the home thread for 소리를 보는 소년 | L30??!

This will be Natively’s first-ever Korean book club, so there will most likely be some issues that need ironing out, but let’s have fun reading together! :fist:

For now all discussions about the book will live on this home thread, so make sure you use spoiler tags and indicate which part of the book you are going to refer to ahead of the tag to show respect to your follow-readers an any possible late-comers.

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. …

Reading Schedule

Chapter Title Page Pgs in Ch. Wk # Pgs in Wk
1 불길 7 13 1 13
2 암흑으로 변한 세상 20 9 2
3 하늘을 여는 소리 29 8 2 17
4 귀인 37 18 3 18
5 남산골 55 18 4 18
6 고된 길 73 11 5
7 한주 84 9 5 20
8 사연 93 8 6
9 무너진 끔 101 10 6 18
10 돌아온 집 111 10 7
11 재회 121 8 7 18
12 마음을 담은 기도 129 7 8
13 명통시 136 11 8 18
14 첫 독경연 147 9 9
15 악연 156 9 9 18
16 독경사 165 9 10
17 작가의 말 174 2 10 11

@bibliothecary has also kindly set up a shared spreadsheet for everyone to contribute new vocabulary or grammar per chapter:

Will you be joining in?

Are you joining in?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • I’m just lurking
0 voters
Which form of the book will you be reading?
  • Physical book
  • Digital book
  • Audiobook
0 voters

@brandon @bibliothecary we have a thread! :partying_face: I created the schedule so that it runs through the holiday period, but if that will be a problem for either of you and you want to include some break time or reduce the page count, let me know and we can amend it! :smile:


I’m so excited! :smiling_face:

Yes it will be difficult for me to keep up, but I will do it… :muscle:


So excited, I started a little early! :rofl:

I made a spreadsheet for vocab and grammar notes, so feel free to contribute. :slightly_smiling_face:

  • Page numbers is a bit of a problem for Ridi ebooks, since it changes depending on screen size (you can add the physical page numbers if you like, @brandon! :smile:). I’ve been adding vocab/grammar in order, and since there are regular scene breaks in the chapters, I’ll probably denote them somehow to make it easier to orient yourself.
  • There are a couple of entries I’ve highlighted in yellow that I’m not sure about. I don’t know whether this is useful (draw attention for review/warn that they’re guesses) or whether people would prefer they be removed?
  • I thought about adding a character reference sheet, but maybe it would be better on the forums since (potential) spoilers could be blurred. :thinking:

The page number thing also means I don’t know where to stop - does chapter 1 cover the page count for week 1 by your estimate, @bungakushoujo, or do we continue into chapter 2?


Got it from kyobo today :slightly_smiling_face:

I will add the physical page numbers

Edit: @bibliothecary requested edit access


I touched on this on the home thread when initially thinking about page breakdown — the chapters don’t break down neatly so it seemed like we just wanted to stop every 20 pages, even if it’s in the middle of a chapter.

The page counts for the RIDI version is very tricky and I also don’t have a great definite solution. :slightly_frowning_face: What I usually do is adjust the font size on my tablet until the page count on the RIDI apps reader reflects the physical versions page count and go by that, but that isn’t possible if you’re reading on a phone instead of a tablet. My lame suggestion is dividing however many pages your RIDI version shows based on font size and calculating what 9% of that would be, since that’s roughly 20 pages of the book.
(In conclusion, Korean ebooks are just the worst if you want an actual reliable page count for a book club like this! :face_with_hand_over_mouth:)

Thanks for setting up a google doc! :slightly_smiling_face: That will be really helpful for tackling new grammar and vocab as a group! 🫰🏻


Forgot to change permissions for the spreadsheet, but now it’s editable by anyone! :sweat_smile:


So, i’ve put in the page numbers and a possible reading schedule ending on chapters, but it’s a bit slower than 20 pgs a week… usually around 18 except for the first and last week where it’s shorter (13 & 11 pgs).

The only other solution would be to have two big readings on the first week and last week by combining those small readings into others… but I think that is a bit intense for me over the holidays. What do we think?

We can of course just do 20 pgs a week, but sounds a bit of a hassle for you e-book readers.

(PS: @bibliothecary I added chapter 10 - 돌아온 집 - as it looks like you missed it)

Edit: FWIW it seems the physical book has fewer pages, so this ‘slower’ schedule actually ends in 10 weeks not 11 weeks as the original proposed schedule! :slight_smile:


I’m fine with the slower schedule - it’ll be easier to keep up with the spreadsheet. :smile:


I’m totally fine with that as well! :slightly_smiling_face: Thanks for checking the page numbers! When I’m at my computer and check out the spreadsheet, I’ll also update the table in the first post of this thread. :+1:t2:


Finished chapter 1, over 200 vocab/grammar entries already. :sweat_smile:

I’ll save my thoughts for when we officially start, though. :face_in_clouds:


Schedule is updated!

And — thank you so much for the fabulous google doc, @bibliothecary! You’ve already added so much vocab! It will be a huge help and easy for anyone who does Anki to turn the entries into cards. 너무 감사드리고요 :heart_eyes:


Bought my copy! The book’s probably a bit (a lot) above my level but hey, the challenge is half of the fun, right? :grin: Looking forward to this!


We are now in week 1, reading the first chapter titled “ 불길”! Feel free to share your thoughts or questions below!


Thoughts on chapter 1:

I was close to tears reading this chapter - the author really knows how to punch the reader in the gut! :sob: The juxtaposition of 장만 being so happy about being able to help earn money immediately followed by him being trapped in a fire, and then being (unfairly!) flogged broke my heart. :broken_heart:

I was pleasantly surprised by the pace of the story - I had assumed it would take a while to get to the events mentioned in the blurb (it does annoy me when descriptions mention something that doesn’t happen until 2/3 of the way through the book), but we dive right into an eventful first chapter.

While there were distressing parts (one can only imagine the terror of being trapped in a fire as a blind person) and obvious cruelty (the one who started the blaze claims not to have known 장만 was blind, but that shouldn’t have mattered; the official punishing 장만 for not telling them he was blind - enraging!), the relationship between the brothers is really heartwarming.

덕수 obviously cares a lot for his brother, looking after him, boasting about how skilled he is, and of course being concerned and upset seeing him suffer. 장만, too, seems to admire his younger brother, and is desperate to help his family and not feel like a burden. As 덕수 is carrying 장만 back home at the end of the chapter, I had He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother playing in my head. :smiling_face_with_tear:

I noticed a bit of a non sequitur when 장만 thinks about how the family has to eat food that’s unripe or rotten because he’s blind - I assume he means he’s not able to contribute much to the household due to his disability, so the family is poor (or poorer than they might have been had he been perfectly healthy), and so they can only afford undesirable produce.

I like the historical details - so far there has been enough to make it interesting without being overwhelming. I chuckled a bit when it mentioned the 패랭이 - something I noticed while reading 외국인을 위한 한국어 읽기 (series) | L10??-14 is that if you read anything historical, you’re gonna learn about hats. :womans_hat:

I’m listening to the audiobook as well, and although the narrator has a clear voice and enunciates well, they don’t really put much emotion into what they’re reading. The boys’ voices sound a bit old, too. It’s fine, but I’ve heard better performances (the narrators of 두루책방 - Free (series) | L0-20 are excellent, and that’s a free series!).

Overall I think the first chapter has set up the story nicely: we see how dangerous and difficult the world is for 장만, how unfair and cruel people can be to him; but we also see some good (the 아줌마 who speaks up for 장만 and saves him from further beating). We see 덕수’s love and admiration for his 형, always willing to help and never complaining. And something I think will be a big part of the story: 장만’s strong desire to stand on his own two feet, help support his family, and take some of the burden off 덕수.

I’m excited to see where the story goes. :smiling_face:


I just started the first chapter, I’ll see if I’ll continue or not afterwards depending on how this goes. The spreadsheet is really helpful though.
I don’t understand the grammar in the second sentence, specifically the 필요하다는. The exact same grammar is also in the next sentence. Does anyone have any idea what that grammar is and means?


That grammar point is for quoting indirect speech. If you notice in the first sentence it’s followed by 소문 (rumor), so it’s quoting what the rumor is.

You can find a better explanation than what I can offer here!


Done with the reading for this week!

I have to say, I was not expecting chapter 1 to be so action packed already! I immediately felt emotional attachment to 장만 and 덕수 after all they went through. I mean, being poor, 장만 almost dying in a fire and then getting flogged. What a sad start!

I did appreciate how the action immediately started, though. Now I already feel invested, and that makes me want to read further. My Korean reading skills aren’t the best or fastest, so when I read books that are slow or full of long descriptive parts, it can be a struggle. This has a nice tempo already so thumbs up for that!

In terms of the language, I thought it was alright. The sentences aren’t so terribly long and most of the vocab is ok, there are just some words (like the hats, the mats they were making, etc.) that I am unfamiliar with since they are not “modern”, but it’s fun reading a historical story like this. It’s time for everything I’ve ever learned from historical k-dramas to shine and help me out with my comprehension!

I was also wondering about that too…the context was him being skinny and shorter than his brother - were they saying that his family ends up giving the bad food to him since he isn’t contributing as much as his brother (treating his little brother as if he is the big brother instead)? Or are they all eating that food (why is his brother taller then)?? Anyone catch that?

The google doc was really awesome! :slight_smile: I am going to take a pass at it later to see if I can solve some of the yellow cells and maybe add 한자 for a few that have common ones.


I have to say, I’ve been a little surprised that google docs haven’t taken hold in the book clubs here yet, so really appreciate the initiative @bibliothecary :clap:. They are all the rage with the wk beginner & intermediate clubs!

They’re especially useful as they continue to live on after the book clubs. It’s definitely in the plans for when we build support for clubs on the site. All that’s to say, I’m very happy we have it haha.

In other news, I have been dabbling in the reading, but I hope to finish tomorrow. Happy to hear it’s action packed :laughing:


Wow I’m surprised to hear that! I think this is the first club I’ve been in with one and it’s pretty cool stuff! :laughing: kudos again to @bibliothecary