Top 18 Korean Novel in English worth to read!

Suki Kim, The Interpreter

In this article, we will share to you the best and top 18 korean novel that is either written in english or translated to English that is really worth to read before visit south korea. As we know south korea often make korean drama either from webtoon or korean novel, not many of us think to read korea novel as we worried it was written in hangul or korean language. However, here we want to share to you the best korean novel that you can easily read as it was written in english. Let’s dive right to it.

Kim Ji Young Born 1982 korea novel is written by Cho Nam Joo. Her novel got so famous after it was adapted for korean movie. Both the movie and this novel was getting huge attention as well as controversy as they document the sexist and oppressive atmosphere that many South Korean women live in.

The Calligrapher’s Daughter novel was set it’s story during Japanese occupation of South Korea. This Novel’s is a story of Najin’s life, a calligrapher’s daughter, who desire more and ended up seeks more than just a traditional normall life that her father sets for her.

The Calligrapher’s Daughter is actually moving story of a girl who is torn between the expectations of family, her desire for education, and unexpected love. The novel spans 30 years of Korean history, providing the reader with a greater understanding of the historical context and how it impacted the lives of individuals.

Kyung Sook Shin became the very first women who win the Man Asian literary award for this korea novel Please Look After Mom. This novel is actually a story of an old women who ended up disappeared at Seoul Subway Station without a trace. Her family ended up on the quest to find their missing mother. However, they end up discover much more than they could have imagined. Please Look After Mom forces the reader to consider how well we actually know the people who are closest to us.

This book has sold more than 10 million copies in South Korea alone, really one of the best and worth to read South Korean Novel that you can add to your reading list during this pandemic and lockdown season.

This korea novel is a story about Ogi who has woken from a coma after causing a devastating car accident that took his wife’s life and left him paralyzed and badly disfigured. His caretaker is his mother-in-law, a widow grieving the loss of her only child. Ogi is neglected and left alone in his bed. His world shrinks to the room he lies in and his memories of his troubled relationship with his wife, a sensitive, intelligent woman who found all of her life goals thwarted except for one: cultivating the garden in front of their house. 

But soon Ogi notices his mother-in-law in the abandoned garden, uprooting what his wife had worked so hard to plant and obsessively digging larger and larger holes. When asked, she answers only that she is finishing what her daughter started.

Evoking Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Stephen King’s Misery, award-winning author Hye-young Pyun’s The Hole is a superbly crafted and deeply unnerving novel about the horrors of isolation and neglect in all of its banal and brutal forms. As Ogi desperately searches for a way to escape, he discovers the difficult truth about his wife and the toll their life together took on her.

This novel is a story about Suzy Park who is a twenty-nine-year-old Korean American interpreter for the New York City court system who makes a startling and ominous discovery about her family history that will send her on a chilling quest. Five years prior, her parents–hardworking greengrocers who forfeited personal happiness for their children’s gain–were brutally murdered in an apparent robbery of their store. But the glint of a new lead entices Suzy into the dangerous Korean underworld, and ultimately reveals the mystery of her parents’ homicide.

This korean novel is a story about two 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 them off. But one day Rang unintentionally tells the whole class about b’s dying sister and how her family is poor, and each of them finds herself desperately alone. The only place they can reclaim themselves, and perhaps each other, is beyond the part of town where lunatics live―the End.

The Vegetarian korean novel is a story about Yeong Hye who decides to be a vegetarian after having a disturbing nightmare. This novel takes place in modern Seoul. Her behavior becomes erratic, unusual, and incredibly transgressive, to the horror of her family and colleagues.

City of Ash and Red korea novel is a story of someone who is sent by the extermination company for an extended assignment in C, a country descending into chaos and paranoia, swept by a contagious disease, and flooded with trash. 

No sooner does he disembark than he is whisked away by quarantine officials and detained overnight. Isolated and forgotten, he realizes that he is stranded with no means of contacting the outside world. Still worse, when he finally manages to reach an old friend, he is told that his ex-wife’s body was found in his apartment and he is the prime suspect. Barely managing to escape arrest, he must struggle to survive in the streets of this foreign city gripped with fear of contamination and reestablish contact with his company and friends in order to clear his reputation.

But as the man’s former life slips further and further from his grasp, and he looks back on his time with his wife, it becomes clear that he may not quite be who he seems. From the bestselling author of The Hole, City of Ash and Red is an apocalyptic account of the destructive impact of fear and paranoia on people’s lives as well as a haunting novel about a man’s loss of himself and his humanity.

This korean novel set in 1940s colonial Korea and Japanese-occupied Manchuria, Endless Blue Sky tells the love story between Korean writer Ilma and Russian dancer Nadia. The novel is both a thrilling melodrama set in glamorous locations that would shortly be tragically ravaged by war, and a bold piece of writing espousing new ideas on love, marriage, and race. Reading this tale of cosmopolitan socialites finding their way in a new world of luxury hotels, racetracks, and cabarets, one gets a sense of the enthusiasm for the future that some felt in Korea at the time.

At Dusk korea novel is a story of someone who born into poverty in a miserable neighborhood of Seoul, he has ridden the wave of development in a rapidly modernizing society. Now the director of a large architectural firm, his hard work and ambition have brought him triumph and satisfaction. But when his company is investigated for corruption, he’s forced to reconsider his role in the transformation of his country.

At the same time, he receives an unexpected message from an old friend, Cha Soona, a woman that he had once loved, and then betrayed. As memories return unbidden, Minwoo recalls a world he thought had been left behind―a world he now understands that he has helped to destroy.

From one of Korea’s most renowned and respected authors, At Dusk is a gentle yet urgent tale about the things, and the people, that we abandon in our never-ending quest to move forward.

The White Book becomes a meditation on the color white, as well as a fictional journey inspired by an older sister who died in her mother’s arms, a few hours old. The narrator grapples with the tragedy that has haunted her family, an event she colors in stark white–breast milk, swaddling bands, the baby’s rice cake-colored skin–and, from here, visits all that glows in her memory: from a white dog to sugar cubes.

As the writer reckons with the enormity of her sister’s death, Han Kang’s trademark frank and chilling prose is softened by retrospection, introspection, and a deep sense of resilience and love. THE WHITE BOOK–ultimately a letter from Kang to her sister–offers powerful philosophy and personal psychology on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

This korean novel is a seductive, disorienting novel that manipulates the fragile line between dreams and reality, by South Korea’s leading contemporary writer

A startling and boundary-pushing novel, Untold Night and Day tells the story of a young woman’s journey through Seoul over the course of a night and a day. It’s 28-year-old Ayami’s final day at her box-office job in Seoul’s audio theater. Her night is spent walking the sweltering streets of the city with her former boss in search of Yeoni, their missing elderly friend, and her day is spent looking after a mysterious, visiting poet. Their conversations take in art, love, food, and the inaccessible country to the north.

Almost immediately, in the heat of Seoul at the height of the summer, order gives way to chaos as the edges of reality start to fray, with Ayami becoming an unwitting escort into a fever-dream of increasingly tangled threads, all the while images of the characters’ overlapping realities repeat, collide, change, and reassert themselves in this masterful work that upends the very structure of fiction and narrative storytelling and burns itself upon the soul of the reader.

By one of the boldest and most innovative voices in contemporary Korean literature, and brilliantly realized in English by International Man Booker­–winning translator Deborah Smith, Bae Suah’s hypnotic and wholly original novel asks whether more than one version of ourselves can exist at once, demonstrating the malleable nature of reality as we know it

Human Acts korean novel is a story of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. The uprising resulted in the massacre of hundreds, become the beginning of the democratic movement in South Korea. This novel illuminates a key historical event in South Korean history and the effect it had upon its civilians.

This korean novel Fox Girls is a story about Hyun Jin and Sookie who are best friends growing up in the aftermath of the Korean War. However, their childhood is out of the ordinary — they live in America Town, just outside a military base, where prostitution, child exploitation, and abuse are commonplace.

Fox Girl offers an appalling insight into the atrocities that were committed against comfort women during and following the Korean War. This novel is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but it is an important read nonetheless.

The Court Dancer novel is based on a remarkable true story, the New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mom brilliantly images the life of Yi Jin, an orphan who would fall under the affections of the Empress and become a jewel in the late Joseon Court.

When a novice French diplomat arrives for an audience with the Emperor, he is enraptured by the Joseon Dynasty’s magnificent culture, then at its zenith. But all fades away when he sees Yi Jin perform the delicate traditional Dance of the Spring Oriole. Though well aware that women of the court belong to the palace, the young diplomat confesses his love to the Emperor, and gains permission for Yi Jin to accompany him back to France.

A world away in Belle Epoque Paris, Yi Jin lives a free, independent life, away from the gilded cage of the court, and begins translating and publishing Joseon literature into French with another Korean student. But even in this new world, great sorrow awaits her. Yi Jin’s grieving and suffering is only amplified by homesickness and a longing for her oldest friend. But her homecoming was not a happy one. Betrayal, jealousy, and intrigue abound, culminating with the tragic assassination of the last Joseon empress and the poisoned pages of a book.

Drifting House by Krys Lee is a short stories deal with Koreans who feel out of place, from a divorcée who agrees to be a mail-order bride in Los Angeles in order to start a new life, to a little boy trying to flee North Korea by crossing a frozen river to China. 

They can be difficult to read and deal with decidedly un-sunny topics (murder, abuse, incest), but there’s a lingering honesty that makes each of the characters sympathetic no matter what their life choices are. The short story is a highly prestigious form in Korea, and Lee puts a very modern stamp on the age-old format.

The Plotters by Un-su Kim is a fantastical crime novel set in an alternate Seoul where assassination guilds compete for market dominance, for fans of Han Kang, Patrick DeWitt and Kill Bill. Reseng is an assassin, and behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind, a plotter, working in the shadows. 

Raised by a philosophical and cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in his crime headquarters, The Library, Reseng has always been surrounded by plots–and by books that no one ever reads. But, when Reseng steps out of line on a job, he risks his future. And when he uncovers an extraordinary plot being cooked up by an eccentric trio of young women, a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed obsessive knitter, he will have to decide whether he will be used as a pawn, or if he can take control of the game.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a story about Sunja who lives on an island called Yeongdo in Busan with her crippled father. After she meets and falls in love with a wealthy older man, the course of her life is change in a direction she could have never imagined. She was transformed from poverty into financial abundance in a complicated story of hardship and perseverance.

These are the top best 18 korean novel that we can share to you, how do you think about this korean novel? Have you read one of them? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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