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Booklist: notable titles from 2020

Here is a list of titles published in 2020 that we’ve been tracking and even hoping to read: literature in translation, Korea-related fiction and poetry in English, plus notable non-fiction titles.

Sorted by date of publication, most recent first.

BookCover image

Homo Maskus (K-Poet 18)
Kim Soo-yeol tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Asia Publishers, 2020

From the listing at Interpark: The year that started with masks is ending with masks. How often have I left my mask behind and had to go back for it? Looking back, it’s all my fault. The past days of heedless living are observing my behavior closely today. (Poet’s Note) The poems of things that […] (Link to online store)

Holiday Home (K-Fiction 028)
Pyun Hye-young tr Sora Kim-Russell
Asia Publishers, 2020

As this is an Asia Publishers title, it’s pretty difficult to obtain outside of Korea. Text from the listing on the Kyobo website, fed through the Papago translation engine: Pyeon Hye-young’s short novel captures the touch of a catastrophe. It is the 28th K-fiction film. A Korean-English version of “Holiday Home” by Pyun Hye-young, a […] (Link to online store)

A Boy Is Looking at the White Moon from a Classroom Under the Sea (K-Poet 17)
Jang I-ji tr Jeon Seung-hee
Asia Publishers, 2020

From the Interpark website: I feel that that I am writing poems seriously. For that, I am indebted to the late Seoung Chan-gyeong (1930-2013), who wrote poems more seriously than I. He was a disciple of beauty and also never stopped searching for the truth. I feel that I belong to a different world than […] (Link to online store)

Turning toward Edification: Foreigners in Chosŏn Korea
Adam Bohnet
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Turning toward Edification discusses foreigners in Korea from before the founding of Chosŏn in 1392 until the mid-nineteenth century. Although it has been common to describe Chosŏn Korea as a monocultural and homogeneous state, Adam Bohnet reveals the considerable presence of foreigners and people of foreign ancestry in Chosŏn Korea as well […] (Link to online store)

Healing Historical Trauma in South Korean Film and Literature
Choi Chungmoo
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Through South Korean filmic and literary texts, this book explores affect and ethics in the healing of historical trauma, as alternatives to the measures of transitional justice in want of national unity. Historians and legal practitioners who deal with transitional justice agree that the relationship between historiography and justice seeking is […] (Link to online store)

Understanding Hallyu: The Korean Wave Through Literature, Webtoon, and Mukbang
Hyesu Park
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: This book sheds light on aspects of the Korean Wave and Korean media products that are less discussed—Korean literature, webtoon, and mukbang. It explores the making of these Korean popular cultural products and how they work and engage media recipients regardless of their different national, cultural, and geographical backgrounds. Drawing on […] (Link to online store)

Korean Food Television and the Korean Nation
Jaehyeon Jeong
Lexington Books, 2020

From the publisher’s website: This book examines the historical development of Korean food TV and its articulation of Koreanness in the era of globalization. Jaehyeon Jeong defines the evolution of Korean food TV as an outcome of the conjuncture between the television industry’s structural changes, the shift in food’s landscape and cultural legitimacy, and various […] (Link to online store)

Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook
Andrew Sangpil Byon
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The revised second edition of Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook is an accessible reference grammar and workbook in one volume. The text can be used in conjunction with any primary textbook, both as a practice book to reinforce learning and as a reference guide to the basics of Korean grammar. This book is […] (Link to online store)

Branded Entertainment in Korea
Yoon Hyunsun
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Branded Entertainment in Korea examines the varied texts and wider context of branded entertainment and related advertising and marketing communications practices in Korea. The book discusses the origins, development, current state, ethics, and regulations of branded entertainment in Korea, considering the impact and implications for communication users and regulators as well […] (Link to online store)

Study Abroad in Korea: Korean Language and Culture
Jieun Kiaer
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Study Abroad in Korea prepares students for study in Korean by providing the reader with key expressions and guidance on certain aspects of culture and language idiosyncratic to Korea, focusing on everyday scenarios. Key features include: Key expressions throughout the book, providing practical linguistic knowledge with jargon-free explanations. Exposes readers to contextualised, […] (Link to online store)

The Power of the Brush: Epistolary Practices in Chosŏn Korea
Hwisang Cho
University of Washington Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The invention of an easily learned Korean alphabet in the mid-fifteenth century sparked an “epistolary revolution” in the following century as letter writing became an indispensable daily practice for elite men and women alike. The amount of correspondence increased exponentially as new epistolary networks were built among scholars and within families, […] (Link to online store)

Routledge Handbook of Contemporary North Korea
Ed Adrian Buzo
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary North Korea presents a comprehensive picture of contemporary North Korea, placed in historical context and set against the overlapping fields of politics, economy, culture, society and foreign relations. Spanning a period of significant transition for North Korea, this volume provides accurate analysis and applications of both historical and […] (Link to online store)

How to Live Korean
Soo Kim
White Lion Publishing, 2020

From the publisher’s website: How to Live Korean takes a deep-dive into Korean culture, unpacking what it means to be Korean in all its forms and uncovering the way the locals think, what they enjoy getting up to and who they do it with. Whether it’s Korean movie Parasite sweeping the Oscars, the explosion of […] (Link to online store)

Hope is Lonely
Kim Seung-hee tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Arc Publications, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Kim Seung-Hee is regarded in her native Korea as being radically different from any other Korean poet, male or female, in her choice of themes and poetic expression as this selection from two of her recent collections demonstrates. Her poetry is strongly female and feminist, deeply personal, at times surreal, always […] (Link to online store)

Imperial Romance: Fictions of Colonial Intimacy in Korea, 1905–1945
Su Yun Kim
Cornell East Asia Series, 2020

From the publisher’s website: In Imperial Romance, Su Yun Kim argues that the idea of colonial intimacy within the Japanese empire of the early twentieth century had a far broader and more popular influence on discourse makers, social leaders, and intellectuals than previously understood. Kim investigates representations of Korean-Japanese intimate and familial relationships—including romance, marriage, and […] (Link to online store)

Loving
Jeong Ho-seung tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Seoul Selection, 2020

From the agent’s website: A gentle fable by the South Korean poet, which is like a balm for the reader.  The story is a simple one. A restless wanderer learns there is no place like home. This wanderer is a fish on a wind chime called Blue Goggle Eyes, and she is in love with […] (Link to online store)

Lonesome Jar
Jeong Ho-seung tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Seoul Selection, 2020

Translator’s note: “Lonesome Jar” is a collection of 20 short fables expressing wisdom about life. These beautiful editions of translations of Jeong Ho-seung’s “children’s stories for grown-ups” benefit from the illustrations from the Korean editions. Contents: Author’s Preface • 5 | A Hangari Jar • 13 | Lovebirds • 22 | Flood Tide and Ebb […] (Link to online store)

Juche – How to Live Well the North Korean Way
Oliver Grant
Bantam Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: ‘Game changing. Juche is to shape the cultural zeitgeist just as The Little Book of Hygge did.’ Fern Brady ‘A book to bring shame upon our depraved morals and our wilted-spinach governments.’ Ivo Graham How did North Korea become the top-rated destination on Tripadvisor? The answer is Juche … ‘In this […] (Link to online store)

Mysterious Pyongyang: Cosmetics, Beauty Culture and North Korea
Ga-young Lee, Su-lan Chae, Sung-wook Nam
Palgrave, 2020

From the publisher’s website: This book is written with the belief that the peaceful unification of Korean Peninsula will be upon us on the day that every woman in North Korea uses South Korean and global cosmetics. The authors focus on understanding the intentions behind the three leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il […] (Link to online store)

A Korean Odyssey: Island Hopping in Choppy Waters
Michael Gibb
Camphor Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Michael Gibb embarks on an eccentric odyssey around the wind-swept islands off the coast of South Korea in search of life beyond K-pop, high-tech gadgetry and nuclear missile tests. With well over three thousand islands to choose from, there was no shortage of destinations, all connected by the indomitable ferries that ply […] (Link to online store)

Korean Culture Dictionary: From Kimchi To K-Pop And K-Drama Clichés
Edward Leary, Woosung Kang
New Ampersand, 2020

From the publisher’s catalogue: Before reading this book, you probably had some moments of curiosity in your life where you questioned certain things about Korean culture. Why is there a Pepsi logo on the Korean flag? Why do Korean kids in my class only have like… three last names (Kim, Lee, Park)? If you are […] (Link to online store)

Beautiful and Useless
Kim Min-jeong tr Jake Levine, Soeun Seo
Black Ocean, 2020

From the publisher’s website: In Beautiful and Useless, Kim Min Jeong exposes the often funny and contradictory rifts that appear in the language of everyday circumstance. She uses slang, puns, cultural referents, and ‘naughty, unwomanly” language in order to challenge readers to expand their ideas of not only what a poem is, but also how […] (Link to online store)

North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors
Daniel Tudor, James Pearson
Tuttle, 2020

From the publisher’s website: What is life in North Korea really like? This fascinating book by celebrated journalists Daniel Tudor and James Pearson explores that very question. The authors interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to provide a startling insider’s view of the secretive North Korean society, including: Members of Pyongyang’s ruling […] (Link to online store)

Nineteen
Ancco tr Janet Hong
Drawn + Quarterly, 2020

From the publisher’s website: At nineteen, the idea that you have your whole life ahead of you with endless possibilities can leave you terrifyingly stiff. Throwing mobility to the wind, you dull yourself with booze. The grownups around you are stunted by their own failures so they act out—with alcohol, too, sometimes with violence. What […] (Link to online store)

South Korean Popular Culture and North Korea
Ed Youna Kim
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Over recent decades South Korea’s vibrant and distinctive populist culture has spread extensively throughout the world. This book explores how this “Korean wave” has also made an impact in North Korea. The book reveals that although South Korean media have to be consumed underground and unofficially in North Korea, they are widely watched […] (Link to online store)

Films of Bong Joon Ho
Nam Lee
Rutgers University Press, 2020

Publisher description: Bong Joon Ho won the Oscar® for Best Director for Parasite (2019), which also won Best Picture, the first foreign film to do so, and two other Academy Awards. Parasite was the first Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes. These achievements mark a new career peak for the director, who first achieved wide […] (Link to online store)

Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards
Bong Joon-ho
Hachette USA, 2020

Discover the illustrations that inspired the historic, OSCAR(R)-winning film’s every shot in this graphic novel drawn by Director Bong Joon Ho himself. So metaphorical: With hundreds of mesmerizing illustrations, Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of one of the best films in years and a brand-new way to experience a […] (Link to online store)

Feeling Never Stops (K-Poet 16)
Ahn Joo-cheol tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Asia Publishers, 2020

Text from the listing on the Interpark website, fed through the Microsoft translation engine where necessary: ‘Informal Sadness’ That Doesn’t Make the Edge of Tears Joo-Chul Ahn’s New Poem Collection Feeling Never Stops The ‘K-Poet’ series introduces the essence of Korean poetry that you always want to read at your bedside. Korean poetry, which will […] (Link to online store)

Voices of the Korean Minority in Postwar Japan: Histories Against the Grain
Erik Ropers
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Shedding new light on how the histories of zainichi Koreans have been written, consumed, and discussed, this book addresses the roots of postwar debates concerning the wartime experiences of Koreans in Japan. Providing an overview of the complicated historiography, it explores the experiences of Koreans located at Ground Zero in Hiroshima and […] (Link to online store)

HappyLand (K-Poet 15)
Kim Hae-ja tr Deborah Smith
Asia Publishers, 2020

This title is listed only on the LTI Korea website. It is available from Kyobo bookstore, but probably nowhere outside of Korea. The following description is from the Korean on the Kyobo website, fed through Papago I met the sky alive, so I accomplished everything. Kim Hae-ja’s new collection of poems, “Happy Land”. “K-Poet” series […] (Link to online store)

Newcomers and Global Migration in Contemporary South Korea: Across National Boundaries
Ed Sung-Choon Park and Joong-Hwan Oh
Lexington Books, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Newcomers and Global Migration in Contemporary South Korea: Across National Boundaries examines the intersections of race, class, gender and inequalities in global migration in contemporary South Korea. The contributors explore South Korean migration policies and study diverse migrants living and working in South Korea as low-wage undocumented workers, refugees, Korean returnees, migrant […] (Link to online store)

The Great Synthesis of Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism in Korea: The Chonon (Testament) by Chong Chedu (Hagok)
Chŏng Chedu, Edward Y J Chung tr Edward Y J Chung
Lexington Books, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Translated, edited, and introduced by Edward Y. J. Chung, The Great Synthesis of Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism in Korea: The Chonŏn (Testament) by Chŏng Chedu (Hagok), is the first study in a Western language of Chŏng Chedu (Hagok, 1649–1736) and Korean Wang Yangming Neo-Confucianism. Hagok was an eminent philosopher who established the unorthodox Yangming school […] (Link to online store)

One Left
Kim Soom tr Bruce Fulton, Ju-chan Fulton
University of Washington Press, 2020

During the Pacific War, more than 200,000 Korean girls were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers. They lived in horrific conditions in “comfort stations” across Japanese-occupied territories. Barely 10 percent survived to return to Korea, where they lived as social outcasts. Since then, self-declared comfort women have come forward only to have their testimonies […] (Link to online store)

Yi Sang: Selected Works
Yi Sang tr Don Mee Choi, Jack Jung, Joyelle McSweeney, Sawako Nakayasu
Wave Books, 2020

Formally audacious and remarkably compelling, Yi Sang’s works were uniquely situated amid the literary experiments of world literature in the early twentieth century and the political upheaval of 1930s Japanese occupied Korea. While his life ended prematurely at the age of twenty-seven, Yi Sang’s work endures as one of the great revolutionary legacies of modern […] (Link to online store)

K-Pop Confidential
Stephan Lee
Chicken House, 2020

From the publisher’s website: A Korean-American girl travels to Seoul in hopes of debuting in a girl group at the same K-pop company behind the most popular boy band on the planet, in this romantic coming-of-age novel perfect for K-pop fans everywhere! Candace Park knows a lot about playing a role. For most of her […] (Link to online store)

Some Are Always Hungry
Jihyun Yun
University of Nebraska Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Some Are Always Hungry chronicles a family’s wartime survival, immigration, and heirloom trauma through the lens of food, or the lack thereof. Through the vehicle of recipe, butchery, and dinner table poems, the collection negotiates the myriad ways diasporic communities comfort and name themselves […] (Link to online store)

The Korean Vernacular Story: Telling Tales of Contemporary Choson in Sinographic Writing
Park Sinae
Columbia University Press, 2020

As the political, economic, and cultural center of Choson Korea, eighteenth-century Seoul epitomized a society in flux: It was a bustling, worldly metropolis into which things and people from all over the country flowed. In this book, Si Nae Park examines how the culture of Choson Seoul gave rise to a new vernacular narrative form […] (Link to online store)

Aspiring to Enlightenment: Pure Land Buddhism in Silla Korea
Richard D McBride II
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Centered on the practice of seeking rebirth in the Pure Land paradise Sukhāvatī, the Amitābha cult has been the dominant form of Buddhism in Korea since the middle of the Silla period (ca. 300–935). In Aspiring to Enlightenment, Richard McBride combines analyses of scriptural, exegetical, hagiographical, epigraphical, art historical, and literary materials to […] (Link to online store)

Unexpected Vanilla
Lee Hyemi tr Soje
Tilted Axis, 2020

A sensual, surrealist collection by a young feminist poet, in an equally sensuous and sensitive queer translation. Lee Hyemi’s poetry is characterized by fluidity and wetness, with subjects moving about and soaking in each other through curious means. Unexpected Vanilla’s exchange of liquids often involves sex, but intercourse can be nonsexual: drinking tea or alcohol, going to […] (Link to online store)

The Diary of 1636: The Second Manchu Invasion of Korea
Na Man-gap tr George Kallander
Columbia University Press, 2020

Publisher description: Early in the seventeenth century, Northeast Asian politics hung in a delicate balance among the Chosŏn dynasty in Korea, the Ming in China, and the Manchu. When a Chosŏn faction realigned Korea with the Ming, the Manchu attacked in 1627 and again a decade later, shattering the Chosŏn-Ming alliance and forcing Korea to […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Soul in Seoul: African American Popular Music and K-pop
Crystal S Anderson
University Press of Mississippi, 2020

From the publisher’s website: K-pop (Korean popular music) reigns as one of the most popular music genres in the world today, a phenomenon that appeals to listeners of all ages and nationalities. In Soul in Seoul: African American Popular Music and K-pop, Crystal S. Anderson examines the most important and often overlooked aspect of K-pop: the […] (Link to online store)

Forty Two Greens
Mah Chonggi tr Cho Young-shil
Codhill Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The poems in this book, by the way they speak to all parts of our minds, invite us to come alive and experience each movement, each emotion and action, and some statements therein, intuitively and aesthetically. This is about a Korean man’s everyday life in the milieu of contemporary America; his […] (Link to online store)

Body and Ki in GiCheon – Practices of Self-Cultivation in Contemporary Korea
Victoria Ten
Ergon, 2020

This is the first English language book that studies contemporary practices of self-cultivation in South Korea called ki suryŏn (氣修練 training related to ki – “life energy”), reinvented in modernity similarly to Indian yoga and Chinese qigong. I focus on GiCheon, one of the ki suryŏn practices. By Victoria Ten (Jeon Yeon Hwa) https://www.ergon-shop.de/titel/body-and-ki-in-gicheon-id-89162/ (Link to online store)

Moms
Ma Yeong-shin tr Janet Hong
Drawn + Quarterly, 2020

From the publisher’s website: An outrageously funny book about middle-aged women that reexamines romance, lust, and gender norms. Translated from Korean by Janet Hong. Lee Soyeon, Myeong-ok, and Yeonjeong are all mothers in their mid-fifties. And they’ve had it. They can no longer bear the dead weight of their partners or the endless grind of […] (Link to online store)

Re-evolution: Selected Poems by Kim Chi-ha
Kim Chi-ha tr Choi Jongyoll
Jain Publishing, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Kim Chi-ha is widely regarded as one of the greatest poets and thinkers in modern Korean history. Throughout the 1970s, as a symbol of the ‘resistance’ movement against the Park Chung-hee dictatorship, he was forced to live a life of fleeing, wandering, imprisonment and torture, leading up to a death sentence. […] (Link to online store)

Peace Corps Volunteers and the Making of Korean Studies in the United States
Ed Seung-kyung Kim and Michael Robinson
University of Washington Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: From 1966 through 1981 the Peace Corps sent more than two thousand volunteers to South Korea, to teach English and provide healthcare. A small yet significant number of them returned to the United States and entered academia, forming the core of a second wave of Korean studies scholars. How did their […] (Link to online store)

Gender Politics at Home and Abroad: Protestant Modernity in Colonial-Era Korea
Hyaeweol Choi
Cambridge University Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Hyaeweol Choi examines the formation of modern gender relations in Korea from a transnational perspective. Diverging from a conventional understanding of ‘secularization’ as a defining feature of modernity, Choi argues that Protestant Christianity, introduced to Korea in the late nineteenth century, was crucial in shaping modern gender ideology, reforming domestic practices […] (Link to online store)

Imperatives of Care: Women and Medicine in Colonial Korea
Sonja Kim
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Korea, public health priorities in maternal and infant welfare privileged the new nation’s reproductive health and women’s responsibility for care work to produce novel organization of services in hospitals and practices in the home. The first monograph on this topic, Imperatives of Care places women […] (Link to online store)

Almond
Sohn Won-pyung tr Lee Joosun
HarperVia, 2020

This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me. Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends—the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to […] (Link to online store)

If I Had Your Face
Frances Cha
Penguin, 2020

From the publisher’s website: A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania “Powerful and provocative … a novel about female strength, spirit, resilience—and the solace […] (Link to online store)

The Disaster Tourist
Yun Ko-eun tr Lizzie Buehler
Serpent's Tail, 2020

Yona has been stuck behind a desk for years working as a programming coordinator for Jungle, a travel company specialising in package holidays to destinations ravaged by disaster. When a senior colleague touches her inappropriately she tries to complain, and in an attempt to bury her allegations, the company make her an attractive proposition: a […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

As I Walk Alone
Yoo Anjin tr Brother Anthony of Taizé, Yu Chang-gon
Merwin Asia, 2020

No information available. Not currently listed on Amazon, Worldcat, Goodreads or the publisher’s website, but the volume appears to be available from Booktable.net (Link to online store)

The Society for Studies in Matryoshka and Basting Pins (K-Poet 14)
Yu Hyoung-jin tr Andrew James Keast, Chung Hwa Keast
Asia Publishers, 2020

The below text is from the Kyobo website, run through the Papago translation engine: About the world and us, the fantasy and the Allegory that opens up and continues. A new collection of poems by Yoo Hyung-jin, “The Society for Studies in Matryoshka and Basting Pins” “K-Poet” series introduces the essence of Korean poetry that […] (Link to online store)

Monastic Education in Korea: Teaching Monks about Buddhism in the Modern Age
Uri Kaplan
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: What do Buddhist monks learn about Buddhism? Which part of their enormous canonical and non-canonical literature do they choose to focus on as the required curriculum in their training, and what do they elect to leave out? The cultural depository of Buddhism includes some four thousand canonical texts, hundreds of other […] (Link to online store)

A Companion to Korean Art
Ed J. P. Park, Juhyung Rhi, Burglind Jungmann, Dana Arnold
Wiley, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The only college-level publication on Korean art history written in English Korean pop culture has become an international phenomenon in the past few years. The popularity of the nation’s exports—movies, K-pop, fashion, television shows, lifestyle and cosmetics products, to name a few—has never been greater in Western society. Despite this heightened […] (Link to online store)

North Korean Graphic Novels: Seduction of the Innocent?
Martin Petersen
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Graphic novels (kurimchaek) are a major art form in North Korea, produced by agents of the regime to set out its vision in a range of important areas. This book provides an analysis of North Korean graphic novels, discussing the ideals they promote and the tensions within those ideals, and examining […] (Link to online store)

You Arrived in the Season of Perennial Summer (K-Poet 13)
Lee Young-ju tr Jae Kim
Asia Publishers, 2020

Details from LTI Korea website. The title is available from Kyobo and probably other Korean online stores: Times like this are no good. They’re too distant from the root cause. I think I was a weaver in a factory a hundred years ago. Maybe a handweaver for hire a thousand years ago. I’m now weaving […] (Link to online store)

Maya in Tokyo (K-Fiction 027)
Jang Ryu-jin tr Sunnie Chae
Asia Publishers, 2020

As this is an Asia Publishers title, it’s pretty difficult to obtain outside of Korea. Text from the listing on the Kyobo website, fed through the Papago translation engine: Nothing. Just grow into Maya. In July 2020, Jang Ryu-jin’s “Maya in Tokyo” was published as the 27th installment of K-fiction. Jang Ryu-jin’s new short novel, […] (Link to online store)

Seeds of Control: Japan’s Empire of Forestry in Colonial Korea
David Fedman
University of Washington Press, 2020

Japanese colonial rule in Korea (1905-1945) ushered in natural resource management programs that profoundly altered access to and ownership of the peninsula’s extensive mountains and forests. Under the banner of “forest love,” the colonial government set out to restructure the rhythms and routines of agrarian life, targeting everything from home heating to food preparation. Timber […] (Link to online store)

Laughing North Koreans: The Culture of Comedy Films
Immanuel Kim
Lexington Books, 2020

Publisher description: This study analyzes North Korean comedy films from the late 1960s to present day. It examines the most iconic comedy films and comedians to show how North Koreans have enjoyed themselves and have established a culture of humor that challenges, subverts, and, at times, reinforces the dominant political ideology. The author argues that […] (Link to online store)

Bluebeard’s First Wife
Ha Seong-nan tr Janet Hong
Open Letter, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Disasters, accidents, and deaths abound in Bluebeard’s First Wife. A woman spends a night with her fiancé and his friends, and overhears a terrible secret that has bound them together since high school. A man grows increasingly agitated by the apartment noise made by a young family living upstairs and arouses […] (Link to online store)

Seven Years of Darkness
Jeong You-jeong tr Kim Chi-young
Little Brown, 2020

A young girl is found dead in Seryong Lake, a reservoir in a remote South Korean village. The police immediately begin their investigation. At the same time, three men – Yongje, the girl’s father, and two security guards at the nearby dam, each of whom has something to hide about the night of her death […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Korean Skilled Workers: Toward a Labor Aristocracy
Hyung-A Kim
University of Washington Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: South Korea’s triumphant development has catapulted the country’s economy to the eleventh largest in the world. Large family-owned conglomerates, or chaebŏls, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG, have become globally preeminent manufacturing brands. Yet Korea’s highly disciplined, technologically competent skilled workers who built these brands have become known only for their […] (Link to online store)

Friend
Paek Nam-nyong tr Immanuel Kim
Columbia University Press, 2020

Publisher description: Paek Nam-nyong’s Friend is a tale of marital intrigue, abuse, and divorce in North Korea. A woman in her thirties comes to a courthouse petitioning for a divorce. As the judge who hears her statement begins to investigate the case, the story unfolds into a broader consideration of love and marriage. The novel […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

The Law of Lines
Pyun Hye-young tr Sora Kim-Russell
Arcade Publishing, 2020

The Law of Lines follows the parallel stories of two young women whose lives are upended by sudden loss. When Se-oh, a recluse still living with her father, returns from an errand to find their house in flames, wrecked by a gas explosion, she is forced back into the world she had tried to escape. […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

What Is Korean Literature?
Bruce Fulton, Youngmin Kwon
Univ of California Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies, 2020

Professor Kwon and Professor Fulton outline the major developments, characteristics, genres, and figures of the Korean literary tradition for students encountering that tradition for the first time and also for those ready to critically engage with it. The volume includes examples, in English translation, of each of the genres and works by several of the […]

Tales of the Strange by a Korean Confucian Monk: Kŭmo sinhwa by Kim Sisŭp
Dennis Wuerthner, Kim Si-seup tr Dennis Wuerthner
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

One of the most important and celebrated works of premodern Korean prose fiction, Kŭmo sinhwa (New Tales of the Golden Turtle) is a collection of five tales of the strange artfully written in literary Chinese by Kim Sisŭp (1435–1493). Kim was a major intellectual and poet of the early Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1897), and this book […] (Link to online store)

Divorce in South Korea: Doing Gender and the Dynamics of Relationship Breakdown
Yean-Ju Lee
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: It may sound logical that individualistic attitudes boost divorce. This book argues otherwise. Conservative norms of specialized gender roles serve as the root cause of marital dissolution. Those expectations that prescribe what men should do and what women should do help break down marital relationships. Data from South Korea suggest that […] (Link to online store)

DMZ Colony
Don Mee Choi
Wave Books, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Winner of the National Book Award Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders, it explores Edward Said’s notion of “the intertwined […] (Link to online store)

China, Korea and Japan at War, 1592–1598: Eyewitness Accounts
J Marshall Craig
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The East Asian War of 1592 to 1598 was the only extended war before modern times to involve Japan, Korea, and China. It devastated huge swathes of Korea and led to large population movements across borders. This book draws on surviving letters and diaries to recount the personal experiences of five […] (Link to online store)

After the Korean War: An Intimate History
Heonik Kwon
Cambridge University Press, 2020

Following his prizewinning studies of the Vietnam War, renowned anthropologist Heonik Kwon presents this ground-breaking study of the Korean War’s enduring legacies seen through the realm of intimate human experience. Kwon boldly reclaims kinship as a vital category in historical and political enquiry and probes the grey zone between the modern and the traditional (and […] (Link to online store)

Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean Literature
Ed Yoon Sun Yang
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean Literature provides a comprehensive overview of a Korean literary tradition, which is understood as a multifaceted nexus of practices, both homegrown and transnational. The handbook discusses the perspectives from which modern Korean literature has thus far been defined, analyzing which voices have been enunciated, underappreciated, or completely […] (Link to online store)

Umma’s Table
Hong Yeon-sik tr Janet Hong
Drawn + Quarterly, 2020

Following his acclaimed English language debut Uncomfortably Happily, Yeon-sik Hong returns with a graphic novel that is as insightful as wrenching as it probes life with aging parents and how we support the people we love. A new father named Madang, moves to a quiet cottage in the countryside with his wife and young baby. […] (Link to online store)

Whale and Vapor
Kim Kyung-ju tr Jake Levine
Black Ocean, 2020

The poems in WHALE AND VAPOR emphasize exhaustion—physically, mentally, and as an existential condition. Kim Kyung Ju playfully turns toward the lyric in this work as a way to reconcile himself with the contemporary world by engaging in dialogue with his Korean literary ancestry. Masterfully translated by Jake Levine in close conversation with the author, […] (Link to online store)

We, At the End of the World (K-Poet 12)
Yang Anda tr Stella Kim
Asia Publishers, 2020

From the Kyobo bookstore website, fed through Papago Translate: Me and you holding hands in the end of the world. a new collection of poems by Yang An-da, “We, At the End of the World” “K-Poet” series introduces the essence of Korean poetry that you always want to read next to you. Over time, Korean […] (Link to online store)

Deep Work (K-Poet 11)
An Hyeon-mi tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Asia Publishers, 2020

As this is a recent publication by Asia Publishers, it’s hard to find outside of Korea. The following description is from the Korean listing on the Kyobo website, fed through the Google translation engine: Remembering the sadness of that day that will never be forgotten Ahn Hyun-mi’s new poetry collection Deep Work The ‘K-Poet’ series […] (Link to online store)

Songs for “Great Leaders”: Ideology and Creativity in North Korean Music and Dance
Keith Howard
Oxford University Press, 2020

Publisher description: Famously reclusive and secretive, North Korea can be seen as a theatre that projects itself through music and performance. The first book-length account of North Korean music and dance in any language other than Korean, Songs for “Great Leaders” pulls back the curtain on this theatre for the first time. Renowned ethnomusicologist Keith Howard moves […] (Link to online store)

Samsung Rising: Inside the secretive company conquering Tech
Geoffrey Cain
Penguin, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Based on years of reporting on Samsung for the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and Time from his base in South Korea, and his countless sources inside and outside the company, Geoffrey Cain offers the first deep look behind the curtains of the biggest company nobody knows. How has this happened? Forty years ago, Samsung was […] (Link to online store)

Korean Art from 1953: Collision, Innovation, Interaction
Ed Chung Yeon Shim, Sunjung Kim, Keith B. Wagner, Kimberly Chung
Phaidon, 2020

Publisher description: Starting with the armistice that divided the Korean Peninsula in 1953, this one-of-a-kind book spotlights the artistic movements and collectives that have flourished and evolved throughout Korean culture over the past seven decades – from the 1950s avant-garde through to the feminist scene in the 1970s, the birth of the Gwangju Biennale in […] (Link to online store)

Korean Families Yesterday and Today
Ed Hyunjoon Park and Hyeyoung Woo
University of Michigan Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Korean families have changed significantly during the last few decades in their composition, structure, attitudes, and function. Delayed and forgone marriage, fertility decline, and rising divorce rates are just a few examples of changes that Korean families have experienced at a rapid pace, more dramatic than in many other contemporary societies. […] (Link to online store)

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
Cho Nam-joo tr Jamie Chang
Scribner, 2020

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 […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Winter in Sokcho
Elisa Shua Dusapin tr Aneesa Abbas Higgins
Daunt, 2020

Publisher description: It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One […] (Link to online store)

b, Book, and Me
Kim Sagwa tr Jeong Sunhee
Two Lines Press, 2020

Best friends b and Rang are all each other have. Their parents are absent, their teachers avert their eyes when they walk by. Everyone else in town acts like they live in Seoul even though it’s painfully obvious they don’t. When Rang begins to be bullied horribly by the boys in baseball hats, b fends […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

The Black Room (K-Fiction 026)
Jeong Ji-a tr Son Jeongin
Asia Publishers, 2020

As this is an Asia Publishers title, it’s pretty difficult to obtain outside of Korea. Text from the listing on the Kyobo website, fed through the Papago translation engine: 99 Years of Life, Unfinished Battle In January 2020, Jeong Ji-ah’s “Black Room” was published as the 26th installment of K-fiction. Jung Ji-ah was born in […] (Link to online store)

The Only Child
Seo Miae tr Jung Yewon
Point Blank, 2020

A serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world but who has steadfastly remained silent. Until now. A young, innocent looking stepdaughter from her husband’s previous marriage, who unexpectedly turns up at the door after the sudden death of her grandparents. Both are unsettling. Both are deeply troubled. And both seem to want something from […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Queer Korea
Ed Todd A Henry tr Kyunghee Eo, Max Balhorn
Duke University Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Since the end of the nineteenth century, the Korean people have faced successive waves of foreign domination, authoritarian regimes, forced dispersal, and divided development. Throughout these turbulent times, “queer” Koreans were ignored, minimized, and erased in narratives of their modern nation, East Asia, and the wider world. This interdisciplinary volume challenges […] (Link to online store)

Untold Night and Day
Bae Suah tr Deborah Smith
Jonathan Cape, 2020

A hypnotic, disorienting story of parallel lives unfolding over a day and a night in the sweltering heat of Seoul’s summer For two years, twenty-eight-year-old Kim Ayami has worked at Seoul’s only audio theatre for the blind. But now the theatre is shutting down and Ayami’s future is uncertain. Her last shift completed and the […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

A Representation of Nationhood in the Museum
Sang-hoon Jang
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: A Representation of Nationhood in the Museum examines how the National Museum of Korea, as a national repository of material culture and the state’s premier exhibition facility, has shaped and been shaped by Korean nationalism. Exploring the processes by which the museum has discovered and interpreted material culture, using concepts of ethnic […] (Link to online store)

Cold War Cosmopolitanism: Period Style in 1950s Korean Cinema
Christina Klein
University of California Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: South Korea in the 1950s was home to a burgeoning film culture, one of the many “Golden Age cinemas” that flourished in Asia during the postwar years. Cold War Cosmopolitanism offers a transnational cultural history of South Korean film style in this period, focusing on the works of Han Hyung-mo, director […] (Link to online store)

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir
Koh Eunji (E.J.)
Tin House, 2020

From the publisher’s website: The Magical Language of Others is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself abandoned […] (Link to online store)