Kim Jiyoung Born 1982

by Cho Nam-Joo

Why I waited till lockdown to read this international bestseller I’m not sure, but I’m glad I did. This is a book that started a MeToo movement in South Korea (and stirred a hornet’s nest of hatred in the process).

We meet the titular character Kim Jiyoung, a married mother of one daughter, in the grip of a kind of nervous breakdown. From here we are guided back though a clinical examination of both her family and personal history in an effort to understand her disorientation. Her story highlights the endemic misogyny in all aspects of South Korean life, from baby daughters being less prized than baby boys, to the unfairly skewed educational system, to a girl’s need to tolerate sexual harassment in order to survive. Read on to learn whether the discrimination in both her work place and marriage will crush Kim Jiyoung’s independent spirit. You’ll zip through this book in hours: it has a clear, direct message and will enlighten you till the very end.

Reviewed for Zimmermann by Sophie Lee.