The LKL Korea Book Database is a list of books we have or would like to have on our bookshelves: books we’re looking forward to reading in the future; books we wish we’d read in the past; and yes, books we know we ought to read but probably won’t. Of course, it also contains books we have actually read, and many of them we have reviewed as well.
Here’s an introduction to things you can find in the database:
1. Literature and Fiction
a) Korean prose literature in English translation
The K-Lit Hub: what we think is a pretty complete list of post-1900 Korean prose fiction that has been translated into English and published in a hard copy book. For the moment, we’ve excluded magazines, journals and online translations. The roughly 1% we haven’t logged represent a handful of books we know were published but which are now impossible to track down, or where there are equally serviceable and more readily available translations available. The database will grow to include eBooks and online translations where I know of their existence. The hub contains the following lists:
- An alphabetical list of Korean authors whose works have been translated into English. Click on the name to be taken to a list of their translated works.
- Single-author translations: a list of novels and short story collections where the publication contains work by a single author. The list comes with links to reviews on LKL and other review sites.
- Short story compilations: a list of anthologies of short stories by multiple authors
When you click on the name of an author or translator in any of the lists, you’ll be taken to a list of titles by that author / translator. Where an author both writes and translates, those lists are combined.
b) Other literature, including poetry and theatre
- Some of the core translations of classical / pre-modern Korean poetry and fiction, whether written in hangul or Chinese
- Korea-related fiction written in English, by both Koreans and non-Koreans
- Korea-related fiction written in other languages but available in English translation
- Graphic novels
- Poetry in translation (by publication date)
- Poetry in translation (alphabetical by author)
- Poetry in English
- North Korean literature
2. Non-fiction titles
As of May 2021 there’s over 500 non-fiction titles; the challenge is listing them in a way that is as accessible as possible. Whereas with Korean literature in translation we’ve tried to be a comprehensive as reasonably possible, when it comes to non-fiction we have been more selective. In particular we have tended to filter out publications which are likely to become dated pretty quickly or where there’s a mass of publications to choose from and no obvious stand-out choice (for example publications on contemporary security, political and foreign policy issues, entry-level language books and profiles of hallyu stars).
Here are some of the individual subject listings. The listings include works of fiction that deal with a particular topic.
- Entertainment (guaranteed academe-free zone) | Hallyu (including academic titles) | K-pop (including academic titles)
- Music and performance
- Food and drink
- Travel and geography
- 20th century visual arts
- Pre-modern arts, heritage and traditional culture
- Art history
- Heritage and national identity
- Architecture, landscape and horticulture
- History: General history books | Prehistory and Early Korea | Gaya Confederacy | Goguryeo Kingdom | Baekje Kingdom | Silla (inc Unified Silla) | Goryeo | Joseon | Late 19th / early 20th century | Colonial period | 1945-1960 | 1960-1993 | 1993 onwards || Korean War | Gwangju
- Translations of pre-modern non-fiction texts
- Religion, ideas and well-being: Buddhism | Confucianism | Shamanism | Christians and missionaries | Modern syncretic religions
- Contemporary culture and society
- Korean diaspora
- Business and economy
- Politics and current affairs
3. Recent and upcoming titles
- A list of upcoming titles we’re looking forward to (both fiction and non-fiction)
- A list of recent titles you might have missed
These lists can only contain the books we know about. So if you’re aware of an upcoming book that we should be tracking, whether fiction or non-fiction, let us know about it. If it’s literature in translation, we’ll definitely add it. If it’s non-fiction, we’ll probably add it, but reserve the right to politely decline because hours in the day, and database space, are finite resources.