[Book in brief] A woman comes of age, and more“My Sweet City” (Moonji Publishing) by Jeong I-hyeon is a series that first ran in a local daily newspaper.
The series quickly turned into a sensational hit with Korean readers when it was put together in book form by a publishing company generally noted for releasing high-profile literary works.
The story is a coming-of-age novel about a 31-year old female publisher of an advertising firm.
It is an easy read, often showing a sharp sense of humor and the poetic sensibility of the author, who spends paragraphs contemplating the notions of love, family and the emotional turmoil of youth. The story was especially popular among younger women for describing the lifestyle and mentality of urban Korean women with such realism, with Seoul as the story’s background.
Critics regard “My Sweet City” as “chick-lit” ― a genre that is booming in Korea at present.
History of Hwang’s undoing
“Ladies and Gentlemen, How Shall I Deliver this News?” (Hans Media) was actually said by Eom Gi-yeong,
an MBC anchorman of 9’o clock news on the day it was proved that Dr. Hwang Woo-suk did not clone stem cells and had been lying about doing so. It was evident that Eom’s voice was shaking, but so were millions of viewers watching the news on national television in shock.
Her opener that night, which marked a critical moment in Korea, was used as the title of a book that documents the months of preparation by MBC producers to air the controversial (and medically complex) program that changed Korean journalism.
The book, written by the producer of “PD Note,” which first questioned Hwang’s research leading to a boycott of MBC after the show ran, gives details of the coverage from the publication of Hwang’s research paper up until meeting the former researcher (still identified only as “K”) who first confessed to the deception.
An unusual love story
“Our Happy Time” (Pureun Sup) by Gong Ji-young is still Korean readers’ favorite fictional pick to add to their bookshelf, more than a year after
it was published. For the past 500 days, the publishers say, over 500,000 Koreans have bought this book about an unfolding romance between a suicidal female professor suffering severe depression and a male prisoner on death row who has been convicted of three murders.
While working on this novel, the author said in an epilogue, she realized “life is like an order [from above] to ‘stay alive,’ though sometimes being alive can be more painful than death, it is worth maintaining [your life].”
The book, which suggests that the author is against capital punishment, became a steady-seller when a melodrama featuring Korean movie stars Kang Dong-won and Lee Na-young opened under the same title this year.
Tracking Korea’s trends
“The Map of Korean Desire” (Wisdom House) by Kim Kyung-hoon has as its lead character a Korean man who is embarrassed to admit,
“Yes, I want it.” The writer is the head researcher at the Korea Trend Research Institute and wants to make it clear that, “It is so passe to hide what you want.”
While modesty was part of traditional Confucian virtues, in which personal desire went unacknowledged, the writer points out in this “trendsetter series” that desire is meant to be revealed and could even be the new keyword for success in future marketing.
Literally meaning “man of desires,” “Homo Desidero,” is the new definition Kim suggests should be given to modern Korean city-dwellers. Some suggestions he lists are: Don’t be afraid of being smart; Be open to human networking; and Be open to being consoled.