Monday, January 28, 2013

Korean Literature Recommendations

In this post I would like to make a few Korean literature recommendations.  While more and more is being written about this topic, it is still sometimes a little difficult to know where to get started.   I am not an expert by any means, for that I will direct you to Charles Montgomery of KTLIT.  His site offers the most information about K-Lit (in translation) I have seen in one place, including reviews, news and author interviews.  I would, nonetheless, still like to suggest a few selections.

As someone who tries to avoid reading reviews of books before I read them, I am not writing reviews here.  I will however give a very short description of each work and have provided links where you can read a little more about each author and work if you wish.


"Photo Shop Murder" by Young-ha Kim (김영하)
Korean noir detective fiction and the most recently written of my recommendations.  You can find a review here

The General's Beard (장군의 수염) by Yi Oryong / Lee Oyoung (이어령)
More dectective fiction:  A man is dead.  Two men are investigating, one a detective, the other a writer.  Was it murder or suicide?  Who will uncover the truth first, and why it happened?

"The Wings" (날개) by Yi Sang (이상)
The oldest of my selections and the story of the possibly insightful rambalings of a tomented husband (think Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground).  A rich text, lending itself to various literary interpretations.  Charles of KTLIT has a full review here.

All three recommendations are novellas or (longer) short fiction.  Both "Photo Shop Murder" and "The Wings" are exteremely inexpensive and come with additional short stories.  The General's Beard can also be purchased online, but the link I provided is to the complete story, from the translator's own site.

I hope that people enjoy these recommendations.  If you have already read these or would also like to recommend something, please feel free to leave a comment.  Additonally, if you liked these and would like me to make more recommendations, just ask, as I may add to this list in the future.


  1. LOL... Excellent choices, all... I can tell you that because two of these will be part of my lecture at the 10 Mag Book Club. Both Nalgae (Wings) and Whatever Happened to the Guy in the Elevator (the second story in "Photo Shop"). This is partly because I could find nice, free PDFs of them, but also because they are good.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I also really enjoyed "Whatever Happened to the Guy Stuck in the Elevator?".

  2. Hi thanks for this introduction into this nation's literature, it's given me a place to start.

    1. Thanks for the comment and I hope they help. I just tried to suggest a few works that I like and that might not be found on other K-Lit recommendation lists. Please let me know what you think.