Book Review

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

I can’t remember the last time that a book made me feel outraged, I don’t mean that the book is so terrible that it angered me – it’s an incredible read, but I just couldn’t believe the kind of thing that women still experience in modern day South Korea. It was incredibly eye-opening and I can easily see why it’s a huge discussion topic.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is, as the title suggests, all about the protagonist Kim Jiyoung and her life as a woman in South Korea. Going all the way from the difficulties of being female before she was even born, all the way to her current position in society. 

One of the reasons I had such a reaction to this book was because of how natural and genuine the characters felt. This didn’t feel like a work of fiction at all, it felt as though it was a biography. Straight away I was intrigued by Kim Jiyoung and wanted to know what had happened to her in the past that made her the way she is when she is first introduced to us. I also found her mother to be an interesting character, she seems to realise (albeit too late) that as a mother there was more that she could have done for her daughters. 

I was impressed by how much detail and plot was included in a book under 200 pages, jumping around to different times and focusing on all the key experiences in Kim Jiyoung’s life where her gender was a disadvantage to her or even dangerous at times. It was also the descriptions of these events that made the book feel like a biography as the details were so clear and realistic. I thought it was a nice touch to include real life statistics from journals to illustrate the points that Nam-Joo was making. It also really emphasised how, even though this is a work of fiction, the novel is heavily influenced by real life events and events that are happening to women even now. 

This is definitely a novel that will stay with me for a while: I always knew of the inequality between men and women in North East Asia, but knowing that it happens is very different to reading about what happens. It was also surprising to read how little Korean society has progressed for women over the years. I definitely recommend that you check this book out!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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