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Best Books About Korea

Recommendations from 19 articles, Barack Obama, Jon Stewart, Peter King and 12 others.
51 books on the list
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Pachinko book cover
Min Jin Lee - 2017-11-14
Goodreads Rating
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister pas...
Human Acts book cover
Human Acts
A Novel
Han Kang - 2017-01-17 (first published in 2014)
Goodreads Rating
From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected ch...
Nothing to Envy book cover
Nothing to Envy
Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Barbara Demick - 2010-09-20
Goodreads Rating
Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journali...
The Island of Sea Women book cover
The Island of Sea Women
A Novel
Lisa See - 2020-03-10 (first published in 2019)
Goodreads Rating
Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a lif...
Drifting House book cover
Drifting House
Krys Lee - 2012-12-24
Goodreads Rating
Set in Korea and the United States from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee's stunning fiction debut illuminates a people struggling to reconcile the turmoil of their collective past with the rewards and challenges of their present. Amid the famine in North Korea, the financial crisis of South Korea, and the cramped apartments and Korea...
In Order to Live book cover
In Order to Live
A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom
Yeonmi Park - 2016-09-27 (first published in 2015)
Goodreads Rating
Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape. Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically med...
White Chrysanthemum book cover
White Chrysanthemum
Mary Lynn Bracht - 2018-10-02
Goodreads Rating
Finalist for the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize For fans of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko and Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver ...
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 book cover
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
A Novel
Cho Nam-Joo - 2020-04-14 (first published in 2016)
Goodreads Rating
A fierce international bestseller that launched Korea’s new feminist movement, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rigid misogyny.Truly, flawlessly, completely, she became that person.In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A thirtysomething-year-...
The Aquariums of Pyongyang book cover
The Aquariums of Pyongyang
Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag
Chol-Hwan Kang - 2005-08-24 (first published in 2001)
Goodreads Rating
"Destined to become a classic" (Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking), this harrowing memoir of life inside North Korea was the first account to emerge from the notoriously secretive country -- and it remains one of the most terrifying. Amid escalating nuclear tensions, Kim Jong-un and North Korea's other leaders have kept a tight grasp on the...
When My Name Was Keoko book cover
When My Name Was Keoko
Linda Sue Park - 2012-04-17 (first published in 2002)
Goodreads Rating
Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them—even their names—are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee ...
A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa
Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang
The Birth of Korean Cool by Euny Hong
The Guest by Hwang Sok-Yong
The Court Dancer by Kyung-Sook Shin
At Dusk by Hwang Sok-Yong
The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
The Real North Korea by Andrei Lankov
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader by Bradley K. Martin
The Korean War by Max Hastings by Max Hastings
I'll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin
Lost Names by Richard E. Kim
Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Seong-Nan Ha
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong
Blood Sisters by Kim Yideum
The Plotters by Un-Su Kim
Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung
The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
The New Koreans by Michael Breen
Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
The Accusation by Bandi
The Hidden History of the Korean War by I. F. Stone
The Impossible State by Victor Cha
North of the DMZ by Andrei Lankov
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
The White Book by Han Kang
Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller
North Korea Confidential by Daniel Tudor
The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim
Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park
The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee
Untold Night and Day by Bae Suah
The Interpreter by Suki Kim