2019 Korean Novels that fascinated foreign readers

2020.02.03

2019 Korean Novels that fascinated foreign readers

 

What Korean novels were a hot topic in the overseas publication market last year? Here we introduce the Korean novels that lit up the overseas publication market in 2019, from steady sellers beloved by foreign readers to works of newly emerging writers.

 

<I’m Waiting For You>, <The Prophet of Mundanity>

<I’m Waiting For You>, <The Prophet of Mundanity>

 

Three English-translated novels of writer Kim Bo-Young, one of the representative SF writers in Korea were sold to Harper Collins Publishers last June, the biggest publication group in the US. The three books were: <I’m Waiting For You (Miracle Books)>, a story about the fond love of a couple with contradicting time and space, <The Prophet of Mundanity (Arzak)>, a story of a prophet and his disciple, and a sequel to “I’m Waiting For You” which is also set for publication in Korea. They will be published during the first half of 2021.
Making her debut in 2004, the increasingly popular writer Kim Bo-Young published a short novel <The Mythology of Evolution>, which was published in the Future Affairs Administration (FAA), the biggest online novel platform in China in 2019 and hit an average of 400 thousand views. Also, <How Alike Are We>, a story about an artificial intelligence uprising to take over human bodies, was translated and published in an international SF webzine Clarkesworld Magazine in October 2019.

 

<Liebende>, German version

<Liebende>, German version

 

<Liebende (Yolimwon)> by poet Jeong Ho-Seung was published in Germany last March. The first edition of the book was unprecedently arranged to be printed in 100 thousand copies in Germany, which is second-largest to <Please Look After Mom (Changbi)> by Shin Kyung-Sook. The book <Lienbende>, a story of a fish that takes on a journey in search of true love, is receiving favorable reviews from German readers, too.

 

<The Plotters> English version (left), <Kim Ji Young, Born in 1982> English version, Chinese version (right)

<The Plotters> English version (left), <Kim Ji Young, Born in 1982> English version, Chinese version (right)

 

Some works are steadily expanding their reach in the overseas publication market. <The Plotters (Munhakdongne)> by writer Kim Un-Su was translated and published in the UK and France, and last January, it was published in the US as well. The book that describes the world of plotters that took advantage of power and wealth backed by an assassin was praised as follows: “It will also keep readers delightfully off-balance (Washington Post)” and “The best winter thriller (The New York Times).”
Since its publication in 2016, <Kim Ji Young, Born in 1982 (Minumsa)> by Cho Nam-Joo has been a craze with its publication rights sold to 18 countries including France, the UK, Spain, and Taiwan; after entering the Chinese market last September, it soon became the best seller in Dangdang, the biggest online bookstore in China. Chinese readers acclaimed that “almost all women in East Asia will find herself inside the character Kim Ji Young.”

 

<I Decided To Live As Me>, Japanese version

<I Decided To Live As Me>, Japanese version

 

One book also hit the jackpot with the Korean Wave trending in the world. The essay <I Decided To Live As Me (Maumsup)> by Kim Soo-Hyun became a hot issue after BTS Jungkook was found to be reading it; after ranking first in Amazon Best Sellers in Essays in Japan, it hit 150 thousand sales with its fourth edition published.

 

 


Written by Hwang Jin-Ah

 

 

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