About this book
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
Cho Nam-Joo • Jamie Chang
The runaway bestseller that has sold over one million copies internationally, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is the most important book to have come out of South Korea since Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.
Kim Jiyoung is the most common name for Korean women born in the 1980s.
Kim Jiyoung is representative of her generation:
At home, she is an unfavoured sister to her princeling little brother.
In primary school, she is a girl who has to line up behind the boys at lunchtime.
In high school, she is a daughter whose father blames her for being harassed late at night.
In university, she is a good student who doesn’t get put forward for internships by her professor.
In the office, she is an exemplary employee who is overlooked for promotion by her manager.
At home, she is a wife who has given up her career to take care of her husband and her baby.
Kim Jiyoung is depressed.
Kim Jiyoung has started to act out.
Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.
Kim Jiyoung is insane.
Kim Jiyoung’s husband sends her to see a psychiatrist.
This is his clinical assessment of the everywoman in contemporary Korea.
About the Creators
CHO NAM-JOO was born in 1978 in Seoul, South Korea. She graduated from the Department of Sociology of Ehwa Women’s University. She is a former television screenwriter and the author of two previous books, When You Carefully Hear (2011), winner of the Munhakdongne Novel Award, and For Comaneci (2016), winner of the Hwangsanbeol Award for Young Adult Literature. She lives in South Korea.
JAMIE CHANG is an award-winning translator and teaches at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR CHO NAM-JOO AND KIM JIYOUNG, BORN 1982
Longlist, National Book Award for Translated Literature
A New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020
A Time Magazine Must-Read Book of the Year
An NPR Best Book of the Year
A LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2020
“The book’s implications were unlike any other, and I was impressed … It’s a thought-provoking book.” — RM, member of K-pop group BTS
“I read the book and it changed how I think. Everything I’ve put aside, thinking it doesn’t mean anything, is actually because I am a woman. I realized how unfair it has been all this time.” — Sooyoung, member of K-pop group Girls’ Generation
“A sensation when it appeared in South Korea in 2016, this novel recounts, in the dispassionate language of a case history, the descent into madness of a young wife and mother — a Korean Everywoman whose plight illuminates the effects of a sexist society.” — New York Times
“A cultural call to arms … Like Bong Joon Ho’s Academy Award–winning film Parasite, which unleashed a debate about class disparities in South Korea, Cho’s novel was treated as a social treatise as much as a work of art.” — New York Times
“This novel is about the banality of the evil that is systemic misogyny … Upon its publication in South Korea in 2016, the book, which sold more than a million copies, had an Uncle Tom’s Cabin effect, propelling a feminist wave. It’s easy to see why.” — New York Times
“As she unveils the lifetime of misogyny her protagonist has faced in South Korea, Cho Nam-Joo points to a universal dialogue around discrimination, hopelessness, and fear.” — Time Magazine
“Cho’s novel became a rallying cry for South Korean women … While Cho’s focus is on South Korean culture, the normalisation of violence and harassment in the book seems all too familiar.” — Guardian
“Cho Nam-joo’s third novel has been hailed as giving voice to the unheard everywoman … [Kim Jiyoung]has become both a touchstone for a conversation around feminism and gender and a lightning rod for anti-feminists who view the book as inciting misandry … [The book] has touched a nerve globally … The character of Kim Jiyoung can be seen as a sort of sacrifice: a protagonist who is broken in order to open up a channel for collective rage. Along with other socially critical narratives to come out of Korea, such as Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film, Parasite, her story could change the bigger one.” — Guardian
“[Cho Nam-joo] pulls no punches in her delineation of cultural misogyny … The author’s particular achievement is in blending political and stylistic concerns in a cool tone carefully captured in Jamie Chang’s translation … Cho’s moving, witty, and powerful novel forces us to face our reality, in which one woman is seen, pretty much, as interchangeable with any other.” — Telegraph (U.K.)
“The novel’s virtue lies in its broad social impact … To read the book is to imagine being a restive, aggrieved millennial and to trace [Kim Jiyoung’s] path through everyday misogyny.” — New York Review of Books
“Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has much in common with Han Kang’sThe Vegetarian.” — Los Angeles Review of Books
“A clear-eyed look at damage done.” — Straits Times
“In this fine — and beautifully translated — biography of a fictional Korean woman, we encounter the real experiences of many women around the world.” — Spectator (U.K.)
“This tale has immediate resonance … Cho’s matter-of-fact delivery underscores the pervasive gender imbalance, while just containing the empathic rage.” — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“The book was fresh and shocking to me. It traces the life cycle of an ordinary, typical woman from her school days and working life to marriage and childbirth. At the same time, it shows the history of the women’s policies in Korea.” — Lee Myung-sun, President of the Korean Women’s Development Institute
“I loved this novel. Kim Jiyoung’s life is made to seem at once totally commonplace, and nightmarishly over-the-top. As you read, you constantly feel that revolutionary, electric shift, between commonplace and nightmarish. This kind of imaginative work is so important and so powerful. I hope this book sells a million more copies.” — Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
“Written with unbearably clear-sighted perspective, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 possesses the urgency and immediacy of the scariest horror thriller — except that this is not technically horror, but something closer to reportage. I broke out in a sweat reading this book.” — Ling Ma, author of Severance
“This book writes about the life of a woman living in Korea: the despair of an ordinary woman, which she experiences without complaint. The fact that it’s not about ‘someone special’ is extremely shocking, but also highly relatable.” — Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman
“The book constantly resonated with me — it would be better to say that there’s nothing we don’t know about the book than there are things we do know.” — Mieko Kawakami, Akutagawa Prize–winning writer
“A fierce and powerful look at modern-day Korean society through the lens of a refreshingly new protagonist. Born in 1982, Kim Jiyoung wins us over with her tolerance and strength. She is every one of us who has been invisible.” — Weike Wang, author of Chemistry
“What any woman might have experienced at least once in her life is calmly portrayed in every two or three pages of the book. The small and big injustices and irregularities — it’s a curse only women are subjected to … The writer of the novel is — or was — exhausted in Korea, for the same reason as I am. The woman who, just like me, bears all the struggles for nothing. Just learning about this alone is enough to make the book a worthwhile read.” — Amamiya Karin, author of Angry Seoul
“It is strange that tears welled up in my eyes because this story is not at all unfamiliar to me. It is my story and also that of innumerable women of the same generation who grew up under subtle discrimination and violence.” —Choe Jieun, journalist, IZE Magazine
“The argument that this is a must-read book for Koreans didn’t sound hollow to me because as I was reading the book, I could understand a little what it is like to live as a woman in Korea.” —Jeong Hyeongmo, culture editor, JoongAng Sunday
“What’s exceptional about this book is how unexceptional its main character is: she is living the typical life of a Korean woman. It’s a testimony of subtle hardship and everyday discrimination. You’ll probably see something you recognize in there too.” — LitHub
“[A] spirited debut … The brutal, bleak conclusion demonstrates Cho’s mastery of irony. This will stir readers to consider the myriad factors that diminish women’s rights throughout the world.” –– Publishers Weekly
“The book’s strength lies in how succinctly Cho captures the relentless buildup of sexism and gender discrimination over the course of one woman’s life … The story perfectly captures misogynies large and small that will be recognizable to many.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Cho deploys a formal, almost clinical prose style that subtly but effectively reinforces the challenges Korean women like Jiyoung endure throughout their lives in multiple contexts — familial, educational, and work-related … Kim Jiyoung effectively communicates the realities Korean women face, especially discrimination in the workplace, rampant sexual harassment, and the nearly impossible challenge of balancing motherhood with career aspirations.” — Library Journal
“Uncompromising and powerful, [Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982] shows hidden misogyny in sharp relief.” — Bookseller
“Though she’s a fictional character, Kim Jiyoung is a symbolic figure in Korea. It seems her status will be even more elevated as novel Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 recently became a million seller.” — Korea Herald
“Not only a riveting read, but a mirror to society that is daring enough to portray us as faceless as we truly are.” — Korean Literature Now
“It has touched the hearts of readers of diverse backgrounds across Korea for its subtleness. Rather than depicting extreme situations for the sake of the plot, the book calmly describes common experiences that happen in the everyday lives of Korean women — things that have always been there, but have never been thought of as problematic until recently.” — Korea Joon Gang Daily
“Irene, a member of the girl group Red Velvet, faced an online backlash after she told a fan that she’d been reading Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, a book that quietly chronicles all the small ways women experience being ‘less than’ in Korea … [and] illustrates the injustices faced by Korean women.” — Quartz Magazine
“Published without fanfare … the book sales rose steeply through word of mouth, and now it is the best-selling fiction. It is used as teaching material for some universities’ sociology courses, and Roh Hoe-chan, the floor leader of the Justice Party, gave the book as a gift to President Moon Jae-in … Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 became a social phenomenon.” —Hankook Ilbo
“Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is an issues-driven novel … It was also the most talked about book in the spring of 2017.” —Chosun Pub
“Chilling.” — Domino
“Compelling … A sharp punch.” — Times of London
“[Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982’s] debut in North America was highly anticipated, and now that I’ve read this slim novel, I see what all the fuss was about.” — I’ve Read This
- Long-listed National Book Award for Translated Literature,