Best Korean Novels In English That You Must Read!

By Ishika

14 February

Here are four highly acclaimed Korean novels translated into English that you should consider reading:

This novel tells the story of Yeong-hye, a woman who decides to stop eating meat and how this seemingly simple act sets off a chain reaction that deeply affects her family. “The Vegetarian” delves into themes of identity, desire, and societal expectations with haunting prose and surreal imagery.

1. “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang:

2. “Please Look After Mom” by Kyung-Sook Shin:

Winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, this novel follows the search for a missing mother in Seoul and reflects on the sacrifices and unnoticed acts of love made by parents. Through multiple perspectives, including that of the missing mother, the novel explores family dynamics and the complexities of motherhood.

Spanning generations, “Pachinko” follows a Korean family living in Japan during the 20th century. The novel explores themes of identity, prejudice, and resilience as the family grapples with discrimination and strives to build a better future. With richly drawn characters and a sweeping narrative, “Pachinko” offers a poignant portrayal of the Korean diaspora.

3. “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee:

4. “The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly” by Sun-mi Hwang:

This allegorical tale follows a hen named Sprout who dreams of hatching her own egg and raising a chick. Through Sprout’s journey, the novel explores themes of motherhood, freedom, and the pursuit of dreams. With its charming storytelling and universal themes, “The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly” has captivated readers worldwide.

These Korean novels offer compelling narratives, rich cultural insights, and thought-provoking themes that make them essential reads for anyone interested in contemporary literature.