Monday, February 25, 2013

More Korean Literature Recommendations

As my first Korean literature post has been one of the most viewed, I have decided to do a follow-up post and recommend a few more titles.

For those of you interested in reading more Korean literature, I would like to recommend a great series of novellas and short works called The Portable Library of Korean Literature by Jimoondang Publishing Company and KLTI (Korean Literature Translation Institute).  Each book contains a selection of a few short works by a selected author.  Once again, we have Charles at KTLIT to thank for a full list (and reviews) of the series here.

Two of the three recommendations in my previous post can be found in this series.  Each book usually contains at least two, but sometimes three works.  My descriptions below are only of the title stories for each work, but I do mention the names of the other stories included in each.  Here are five more that I would recommend:

Rust by Yang Gui-ja (양귀자)
This story relates a day in the life of an advertising salesman in the late 1980's in Seoul.
Also included: Swamp

Chinatown by Oh Jung-hee (오정희)
A story centering around a young girl and her experiences living in Incheon just after the Korean War.  I really enjoyed the second story The Wayfarer as well.
Two others also included: The Wayfarer and The Release

The Last of Hanako by Ch'oi Yun (최윤)
Set in Venice, the story of a man on a business trip in search of a long-lost friend.  By clicking the author's name, in addition to a short biography, you will also find her story The Flower with Thirteen Fragrances.
Also included: The Grey Snowman

House of Idols by Choi In-hun (최인훈)
A mysterious young man with a seemingly secret past begins to disrupt the atmosphere of a group of writers at their favorite hangout.  One in the group makes it his mission to discover the truth.
Also included: End of the Road and Imprisoned

Deep Blue Night by Choi In-ho (최인호)
Another foreign setting, this time California, follow two Korean ex-pats on a road trip, Kerouac-style. 
Also included: The Poplar Tree

For those of you who are looking for something larger, but are still relatively new to Korean Literature, I would recommend the below anthology.

Modern Korean Fiction: An Anthology Edited by Bruce Fulton & Youngmin Kwon
Included in this anthology are stories by many of the most important authors in Korean literature from the 20th century.  A good introduction to Korean fiction that displays its diversity over the past century.  A few of the stories here that I enjoyed are:

The Wings (Yi, Sang) - Same story mentioned in the previous post.
The Crow (Yi, Tae-jun) - A story of unrequited love.
Mother's Hitching Post (Park, Wan-suh) - One of the most famous modern Korean authors.
Another Man's Room (Choi, In-ho) - Same author as the above mentioned Deep Blue Night.

I plan to read The Dwarf by Cho, Se-hui pretty soon.  I've read two stories from it already that were very good, so I'm looking forward to reading it.

Hope you find these recommendations helpful and that they have given a little more of a selection for those interested in Korean literature.

As always, feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Hi. I have read some of these stories as I have copies of Wayfarers and Unspoken Voices, which compiled a lot of stories written by Korean female writers.Some of them are good, some challenging.I am trying to read The Dwarf too actually but due to my bad time management; juggling between work and Master's thesis,and an editing job, I am trying to find excuses here, but yeah, am trying hard. I like Chinatown and House of Hanako and they are good readings.I would recommend what you have stated here if readers want to have insights to the women psyche.

    1. Thank you very much for your comments, and I'm glad you liked my choices. Let me know what you think when you are done with The Dwarf.

  2. Thanks for this post, will try to track down a couple of these, especially interested in the Anthology as they tend to be easier to find & can give an idea of writers you may like.

    1. I really enjoyed a number of the stories in the anthology, and it also includes a story by a North Korean writer (described by someone as a "Juche love story"). Please let me know what you think when you read some.

  3. Rust is available here free online:

    Chinatown here:

    Deep Blue Night here:

    A big list of free online Korean fiction can be found here:

  4. I am so touched your recommendation list. Your post is a treasure in a flood of information of internet. Your post let me know how we can use internet effectively and advisably. Thanks.

  5. Thank you very much, but your words are too kind! I try my best and hope others find it useful, helpful or interesting. I'm sure you have read some of my recommendations, which ones did you like?

  6. have this in my wishlist.Into the Light: An Anthology of Literature by Koreans in Japan, any added info?

  7. Sounds interesting, but I haven't really read much of Korean writers outside of Korea. Will check it out myself.