Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
by Cho Nam-Joo
Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy.
Kim Jiyoung is a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own.
Kim Jiyoung is a female preyed upon by male teachers at school. Kim Jiyoung is a daughter whose father blames her when she is harassed late at night.
Kim Jiyoung is a good student who doesn’t get put forward for internships. Kim Jiyoung is a model employee but gets overlooked for promotion. Kim Jiyoung is a wife who gives up her career and independence for a life of domesticity.
Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely.
Kim Jiyoung is depressed.
Kim Jiyoung is mad.
Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.
Kim Jiyoung is every woman.
I’d seen this book around Instagram for a while so wanted to give it a try. I’m intrigued by Korean culture and was keen to learn a read a little more fiction by Korean authors.
As you might imagine from the name, this book follows the story of Kim Jiyoung, from her birth in 1982 through to 2016, the year this book was originally published.
This is certainly an important read as, told through the eyes of her therapist, it covers and highlights the deep-rooted discrimination that Jiyoung faces throughout her life. From her early years, to school and then through to her career and family life, Jiyoung was impacted by sexism and discriminatory traditional views at almost every step. I’m sure these views and events will be relatable to anyone living in a patriarchal society. As a woman, Jiyoung had so many challenges and if nothing else this book has made me grateful for the upbringing and experiences I have had myself.
This novella was extremely popular in South Korea and it seems to be doing pretty well here too. I enjoyed it, but beyond this message I didn’t think it was anything special and at times I found it a little dry. I wonder if some of the content and meaning got lost in the translation, or perhaps in the narration. I’d be interested to see if my views changed when reading the print book instead of audio.
On a side note, I really like the cover of this book. I think it’s really powerful!
Overall rating: I listened to Kim Jiyoung’s story in audiobook format and for me it was just okay. The author Cho Nam-Joo uses this story to illustrate a really important message though and I think this is worthwhile read, especially as it’s so short. This was 3 stars for me, but I’d definitely still recommend it and may try reading, rather than listening, to this one again soon.