Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 (Hardcover)
Liveright, 9781631496707, 176pp.
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
A fierce international bestseller that launched Korea’s new feminist movement, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rigid misogyny.
Truly, flawlessly, completely, she became that person.
In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A thirtysomething-year-old “millennial everywoman,” she has recently left her white-collar desk job—in order to care for her newborn daughter full-time—as so many Korean women are expected to do. But she quickly begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her husband, parents, and in-laws: Jiyoung impersonates the voices of other women—alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. As she plunges deeper into this psychosis, her discomfited husband sends her to a male psychiatrist.
In a chilling, eerily truncated third-person voice, Jiyoung’s entire life is recounted to the psychiatrist—a narrative infused with disparate elements of frustration, perseverance, and submission. Born in 1982 and given the most common name for Korean baby girls, Jiyoung quickly becomes the unfavored sister to her princeling little brother. Always, her behavior is policed by the male figures around her—from the elementary school teachers who enforce strict uniforms for girls, to the coworkers who install a hidden camera in the women’s restroom and post their photos online. In her father’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s fault that men harass her late at night; in her husband’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s duty to forsake her career to take care of him and their child—to put them first.
Jiyoung’s painfully common life is juxtaposed against a backdrop of an advancing Korea, as it abandons “family planning” birth control policies and passes new legislation against gender discrimination. But can her doctor flawlessly, completely cure her, or even discover what truly ails her?
Rendered in minimalist yet lacerating prose, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 sits at the center of our global #MeToo movement and announces the arrival of writer of international significance.
About the Author
Jamie Chang is an award-winning translator and teaches at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.
Praise For Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982: A Novel…
— Terry Hong, Booklist [starred review]
Written with unbearably clear-sighted perspective, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 possesses the urgency and immediacy of the scariest horror thriller—except that this is not technically horror, but something closer to reportage. I broke out in a sweat reading this book.
— Ling Ma, author of Severance
I loved this novel. Kim Jiyoung’s life is made to seem at once totally commonplace and nightmarishly over-the-top. As you read, you constantly feel that revolutionary, electric shift between commonplace and nightmarish. This kind of imaginative work is so important and so powerful.
— Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
This is a book about the life of a woman living in Korea; the despair of an ordinary woman, which she takes for granted. The fact that it’s not about ‘someone special’ is extremely shocking, while also being incredibly relatable.
— Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman, in Yomiuri Shimbun