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Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 Kindle Edition
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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.--Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
This is a book about the life of a woman living in Korea; the despair of an ordinary woman, which she takes for granted. The fact that it's not about 'someone special' is extremely shocking, while also being incredibly relatable.--Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman, in Yomiuri Shimbun --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- File size : 1412 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 168 pages
- Publisher : Scribner UK (20 February 2020)
- ASIN : B07LFL9V9Z
- Language: : English
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,285 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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It also talks about menstruation, maternity leave, unequal pay and unequal division of unpaid labour, spy cams and pornography, child care, and the insensitivity of the general public towards these matters.
It will definitely make it to my favourite books of all time.
This is about misogyny.
This is about all the women around the world.
This book, is about Kim Jiyoung in Korea.
Kim Jiyoung is the voice of all women in Korea. She sharply bares the plight and apathy of those women in their sex biased society. Her commentary cuts like a whip and reads like a rant.
Kim Jiyoung suffers from post partum depression and takes the personalities of other females as her ailment exacerbates. Her life story - and how it leads to her present condition, is narrated by a psychiatrist.
The story has a single track theme of misogyny.
The writing is simple and straight. The story is filled with statistics, hence, never leaving the truth about gender discrimination.
The story is not really captivating and doesn't really hold the reader's attention firmly, but being a short book that doesn't really bother one.
My verdict- Worth a try!
The book pinpoints several everyday struggles and sacrifices of a female in a society, the biased and discriminatory society that's always been there but was never thought of as a problem until recently. From the point of being born to death the defaulted compromises a women makes because there's never been any other way. Though the book is based in Korea, the condition is ubiquitous. Kim Ji Young lives in a patriarchal society where women are expected to give up their studies so the male member of the family can complete their education because they are the bread earners, where the juiciest part of the meat is served to the male members, where just being a boy is an achievement in it self whereas a girl has to spend her lifetime proving to be worth and rarely succeeds, where women are seen as weaker sex struggling to earn a high post at work despite their incredible credibilities. Like most of the women Kim Ji Young faces work place harassment. With no other option but to give up her career to look after her daughter Kim faces post natal depression which later turns into child caring depression. Issues that go unnoticed because a women's efforts and sacrifices are hardly looked upon as anything worth noticing. When harassed at a bus stops Kim is blamed for being inviting and provocative. Bitter but true. Just like oxygen is taken for granted people take a women's compromises and efforts for granted.
A very thought provoking novel depicting what's it to be a woman in Korea (and the world). Though we have come a long way, the biased and misogynistic society still lurks.
That being said, this book could have been so much more. Maybe it's the translation that makes it lose its impact but the language and the sentence structure don't create a vivid enough picture and leave the reader wanting for more. It starts out very promising with Jiyoung's mental breakdown but that's where it stopped. Her character development was weak and it didn't make me root for her at all. I, for one, had some trouble getting through the book because it read more like a report with statistics than a fictional story. Towards the end, while I was enraged by the ongoing injustices and inequality towards women, I just wanted this book, nay white paper, nope college sociology essay, to be over. Read it if you want a quick read and a deep insight into what women face in South Korea and lots of developing third world countries.
A powerfully thought-provoking story beautifully written.
Top reviews from other countries
It's a very easy read, and at around 170ish pages you can read the entire thing in a single sitting. But I was never really sure whether I was reading a novel set in modern-day South Korea or someone's sociology dissertation centred on women in South Korea. This was made more confusing by the constant footnotes and clumsy interspersing of percentages and data from various studies, which ultimately added very little to the plot.
Overall, I'd recommend to someone who wants to know more about South East Asian culture. But if you were after a compelling read, this is not the book for you. Maybe try Adeline Yen Mah or Jing-Jing Lee.
This book is an eye opener. It’s intense but Kim Jiyoung isn’t written as an emotional character, in fact, I feel that Cho Nam-Joo has purposely done this and has let the actions and words of those around Kim Jiyoung speak for themselves. There is no need for deep and personal descriptions of feelings when the actions are that unbelievable that you sympathise immediately.
I’d recommend this to every one. I read this in 2 sittings and would say it’s my favourite book I’ve read this year.
Throughout the book we see how differently women are treated in topics such as:
Pregnancy – Women are under a lot of pressure to provide a male child and can be shunned by families for giving birth to a girl. We also learn of the high abortion rate of foetuses that are female and how it is treated sort of like an illness.
Family – Historically female children would give up education at a point to work and pay for their male siblings education. The boys are given more opportunity and treated differently in family settings.
Sexual Harassment – From touchy feely teachers, to fellow male students following her home, to women’s bodies being becoming a subject of interview discussion. And what is worse it is the women who are blamed for it, the accountability sits with the woman.
<i>Jiyoung grew up being told to be cautious, to dress conservatively, to be “ladylike”. That it’s your job to avoid dangerous places, times of day and people. It’s your fault for not noticing.</i>
Work – Large differences in pay between genders, men being promoted over more qualified women, being pressured to give up work to have children.
The story follows the life of Kim Jiyoung from her birth in 1982 up until 2016 when this book was originally published. At every stage of Jiyoungs life she is met with systemic misogyny which she is either blamed for or handled as a simple fact of life. Following Kim Jiyoung’s life presented me with a strange mix of emotions; sadness and rage filled me at the way she’s treated. But I also rooted for Jiyoung and there were times she made me laugh and I celebrated every success she had when the odds aren’t in her favour. The implication on mental health from her experiences was a tough one to follow and if there’s anything to criticise about this book is I’d have loved to understand more of how the experiences we are told about in the book impacted her mental health.
We start the story from Jiyoung’s husbands POV as he starts to notice her exhibit unusual behaviour before we go back in time to the beginning of Jiyoung’s story. I really liked the representation of Jiyoung’s mother, the author has given us a reference to the generation before Jiyoung. I found Jiyoung to be very likeable and she is without a doubt relatable, she is a women who wants an education, a job to bring in her own income and fulfilment in her life. Which is something we are after. Yet she is faced with challenge after challenge for being female, a journey we share with her throughout the pages. I found the ending to be disappointing, not because it is a bad ending but for what if signified. I won’t give it a way but where I thought there was light at the end of the tunnel I felt became an illusion with ingrained beliefs shining through right at the end.
<i> The world had changed a great deal, but the little rules, contracts, and customs had not, which meant the world hadn’t actually changed at all. </i>
The format of the book is slightly different to other books you may have read. It is a combination of facts and fiction, the author has used genuine resources which are referenced throughout the book to back up the content. The references allow further opportunity to educate ourselves on the gender inequality faced in South Korea. From other books I’ve read, such as, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Sisters of Auschwitz the mixture of fact and fiction really works for me as a reader and ignites an interest in the topic that I may not have had prior to reading. The references in this book for me highlighted the issues faced by women more clearly than if there wasn’t a reference as it would be potentially hard to distinguish between the truth and the story.
This book covers the topic of Sexism and Misogyny in South Korea which is a heavy hitting topic but it’s important to also remember the story is of a girls life which the author has accurately reflected as a whole life and there are sections that are utterly charming and funny. Good is presented with the bad and it’s hard to not have a connection with Jiyoung by the end.
For all the emotions I felt reading this book, I genuinely enjoyed reading it. Not because of the inequality it represents but because it is simply a well written engaging book and it has given me the opportunity to learn a little something about a part of the culture it has been written to represent. I think this is a very valid book that deserves to be read to educate ourselves on the experiences of others and reflect how topics represented in this book are alive in other cultures or how they’ve developed through history. I can only recommend you get yourself a copy and give it a read.
This novel has been compared by some to "The Vegetarian". Although both deal with the mental health of a South Korean woman, the language of this book distances the reader from the eponymous character, whereas Han Kang's novel actively sweeps you into Yeong-hye's fragmenting nightmarish world. I think the central theme of the two books also differs. In "The Vegetarian" the emphasis is on Yeong-hye herself and her own personal state of mind, whereas in Cho Nam-ju's novel, the position of South Korean women in general, using the experiences of Kim Ji-young (a perfectly ordinary young woman), her family and colleagues is made clear. Women throughout the world will be able to empathise with many of the obstacles which confront the female characters, but this book reveals that South Korea has further to go than many countries to achieve equality, with a strong expectation to produce children and yet virtually no provision for women to return to their previous jobs after maternity leave and - worst of all - a horrifying level of systemic sexism.
The book's clear, concise, unimmotional language, which relegates the reader to an observer rather than a participant in the story helps to create the impression that this is a simple tale. This is deceptive - the cleverness is not apparent until almost the end. Yet there is still more to come, as the final sentence, acerbic and devastating, is a masterclass in chilling conclusions.
I once again went into this book blind and did not really know what to expect. The start of the book makes it very clear that Kim Jiyoung is incredibly unwell, but even given the title of the book it didn’t click with me that this was essentially going to be a book about her life up to that point. This is a book about what made her sick.
It becomes very clear that LIFE made her sick. Life living in a country where men get the better jobs just because. Life living in a country where women can’t wear what they are comfortable in. Life living in a country where schoolgirls aren’t expected to amount to anything. Life in a country where women are treated like crap. This is what made her sick, and it made me feel sick too.
It is an eye opening story, told by her psychiatrist and sprinkled with facts about the country as we go along. If you haven’t read it I urge you to. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it when I finished, but having sat on it for a few days I now realise that that this feeling I felt was discomfort at my own insecurities and the fact that women all over the world, not just in Korea, suffer a lot of these same injustices. It is an incredibly important read, and one which I think I will read again with my eyes wide open.