BOOK THOUGHTS: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

This was such an interesting read for me. I don’t know that I loved it from a reading experience and story point of view, but I can also see the power behind this piece of fiction, and how important the themes and ideas are. For those reasons, I am so glad I read it, because it really succeeds in delivering the powerful message it aims for.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo – BLURB

In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A thirtysomething-year-old “millennial everywoman,” she has recently left her white-collar desk job—in order to care for her newborn daughter full-time—as so many Korean women are expected to do. But she quickly begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her husband, parents, and in-laws: Jiyoung impersonates the voices of other women—alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. As she plunges deeper into this psychosis, her discomfited husband sends her to a male psychiatrist.

In a chilling, eerily truncated third-person voice, Jiyoung’s entire life is recounted to the psychiatrist—a narrative infused with disparate elements of frustration, perseverance, and submission. Born in 1982 and given the most common name for Korean baby girls, Jiyoung quickly becomes the unfavored sister to her princeling little brother. Always, her behavior is policed by the male figures around her—from the elementary school teachers who enforce strict uniforms for girls, to the coworkers who install a hidden camera in the women’s restroom and post their photos online. In her father’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s fault that men harass her late at night; in her husband’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s duty to forsake her career to take care of him and their child—to put them first.

Jiyoung’s painfully common life is juxtaposed against a backdrop of an advancing Korea, as it abandons “family planning” birth control policies and passes new legislation against gender discrimination. But can her doctor flawlessly, completely cure her, or even discover what truly ails her?

Rendered in minimalist yet lacerating prose, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 sits at the center of our global #MeToo movement and announces the arrival of writer of international significance

(Blurb taken from Goodreads)

BOOK REVIEW: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

 I read this one recently, such a famous book, and I can see why.

I enjoyed it, it’s definitely a very easy quick read, and I particularly like that most of the instances of discrimination against the female protagonist (and other female characters) were not massive obvious instances. They were very small acts and very everyday moments, easy to identify with, and I really liked that. Those moments felt very real because of that.

For me, although I can see how important the book is in the way it discusses women and their experiences, I still didn’t connect hugely with it. It felt less like a story and almost more of a nonfiction account, which perhaps was the point, but I must admit I would have liked to connect more with the main character. However I do suspect this was intentional from the author, the way that the main character is hardly a real flesh and blood person, but more a sum of her experiences. It was an interesting read and I’m glad to have read it, but I think I am personally more of a story lover, so it might not have been quite the right book for me, though it was definitely eye opening and a good book!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Lee Evie


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