Translated by: Sora Kim-Russell
Publisher: Short Books, 2014.
Already a wildly popular bestseller in South Korea, this gripping and passionate debut novel is a death row love story of crime, punishment, and forgiveness—vividly told by the exquisitely talented Gong Ji-young.
Yu-Jung, beautiful, wealthy, and bright, is lying in her hospital bed, recovering from her third suicide attempt, when she receives a life-changing visit. Her no-nonsense aunt, a nun, appears by her side and suggests Yu-Jung accompany her on a charitable visit to death row. At her lowest ebb, Yu-Jung is resistant. But something compels her to go to the prison. There she meets Yun-Soo, a convicted murderer who will soon be put to death. Though she is repulsed by his crimes, something about the depth of his suffering strikes a chord in her. Shaken by their encounter, she returns to visit him the next week. And the next…
Through their weekly, hour-long meetings, Yu-Jung and Yun-Soo slowly reveal to each other the dark secrets of their pasts and the hidden traumas that have shaped their lives. In doing so they form a deep, unbreakable bond, helping one another overcome their demons. But Yun-Soo’s hands are always in cuffs, the prison officers are always in the background, and they can never lose sight of the fact that their happy time together is tragically brief.
Gracefully poetic and ideal for fans of Kyung-Sook Shin’s Please Look After Mother, Our Happy Time is a passionate and heartbreaking love story as well as an important, hard-hitting, and compassionate fable.LKL says:
A rewarding novel that looks at the unlikely understanding that develops between a death row inmate and a suicidal former pop star, exploring themes of empathy and love, with a message that no-one is wholly good, no-one is wholly bad; and that violence and abuse engender more violence.
LKL rating:Read our review of this book here. Read a review by Charles Montgomery here. Entry on Goodreads.com here.