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Summary

The multi-million-copy-selling international best seller.

Ms Kim Jiyoung is a sibling made to share a room with her sister while their little brother gets a room of his own. 

Ms Kim Jiyoung is a schoolgirl who has to line up behind the boys in the lunch queue. Ms Kim Jiyoung is a daughter whose father blames her for being harassed late at night.

Ms Kim Jiyoung is a good student who doesn’t get put forward for internships. Ms Kim Jiyoung excels at her job but gets overlooked for promotion. Ms Kim Jiyoung is a wife who gives up her career and independence for a life of domesticity.

Ms Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely.

Ms Kim Jiyoung is depressed.

Ms Kim Jiyoung is mad.

Ms Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.

Ms Kim Jiyoung is every woman.

Ms Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is the South Korean sensation which has got the whole world talking. The life story of one young woman born halfway across the globe at the end of the 20th century raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression which are relevant to us all.

Riveting, original and uncompromising, this is the most important book to have emerged from South Korea since Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.

©2019 Cho Nam-Joo (P)2019 Simon & Schuster UK

What listeners say about Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

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Why a male narrator?

This is a book about gender equality and it gives voice to a South Korean woman - why is it narrated by a man??!!!

26 people found this helpful

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Great story, bad choice of narrator

I really hope this audiobook gets re-recorded with a British / American - Korean female actor. I found it really hard to get into the book due to the narrator, it just didn’t sit right and I found him really difficult to follow. I think it let the audiobook down. I’m going to return to the story and read the paper copy.

21 people found this helpful

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Harrowing and sadly true

I lived in Korea for 5 years and from what I saw and heard from my Korean female friends this is all true, which makes it harrowing and sad.
Some people have commented on why the narrator was a man - you have to listen to the last chapter to find out why the narrator is a man. There is a reason. A good sad ending. Makes me sigh. When will it change?

5 people found this helpful

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  • К
  • 21-04-21

Not every women, BUT EVERY MAN SHOULD READ THIS

This is not just the story of Kim Ji Young. It is the story of many women, and all the things they wish they've said but have not because they have been indirectly silenced. It disgusts me that we live in a world like this because yes, this story is still happening every day, every hour, every minute to a woman around the world.
A must read, especially to MEN to get to their senses a little bit. And don't go with not everyone is like this - until everyone has changed, the change has not occured.

1 person found this helpful

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A story that may stay with you

This is a story told quite simply with no huge events or twists and turns. Just one woman's life experiences. However I found myself thinking about it long after I'd finished listening to it. Beautifully and insightfully written.

1 person found this helpful

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Revealing

I am starting to take a greater interest in Korean culture recently due to my new daughter in law being Korean.

This is very informative, interesting, sad and moving. I think it says a lot about various cultural 'norms' not just Korean.

1 person found this helpful

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Powerful

Though Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is a work of fiction, we get an accurate portrayal of what it would be like to grow up in and attempt to find one’s way in misogynistic country/world. Whilst the synopsis could lead one to think this is written as a feminist lecture or in a patronising style, this is not the case; opinions aren’t forced and Jiyoung’s life is interesting in itself.

The book progresses quickly through Jiyoung’s life with each chapter focusing on discrete life stages (childhood, adolescence, early adulthood and marriage). In each chapter, the main character observes unacceptable social behavior that has come to be accepted and comments, usually internally.

The book is reminiscent of Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London in that both offer commentary on social discrimination that is fictional but based on fact (though Orwell is rich-poor, this is male-female). By being placed into the position of the discriminated, ideas quickly take hold. Whereas Orwell typically offers observations and possible solutions to these problems, Cho Nam-Joo seems more set on simply increasing awareness of these social problems but does so with frequent supplementary statistics and facts – it works.

The writing style is initially cumbersome and off-putting (‘They did this and then they did this, in they did this’) but quickly improves after the first chapter to the point the style becomes engaging.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 isn’t just about discrimination; it’s a reminder to how fast South Korea has changed in recent times from an agricultural economy in the 1980s to a highly developed tech economy in recent times. It’s a series of snapshots in time. It’s worth a read.

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(Note on audible version: If you are familiar with Korean pronunciation, Jamie Parker’s mispronunciation may become annoying. There may only be so much you can take of the main character’s name being pronounced as the famous side dish.)

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Fascinating

This book is essentially a socio-political feminine critique of an enduring patriarchal South Korean society, presented in a calm, non-combative way. Its empathetic portrayal of the main players of both sexes is brilliant. The twist at the end was unexpected and poignant. I listened to it over the course of a day, and am very glad I did so. A rare gem.

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Interesting and enjoyable

I wasn't sure what to expect when starting but the book was poignant and moving. As a feminist there were many times you were left angry at the treatment of women in the novel but in many ways grateful to see that some things have moved on since the setting of the book. This was a short and enjoyable listen and the narrator was clear with a good tone for this type of book.

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Unsurprising for women, a key read for men

I really liked the way this book was so descriptive of the misogyny and sexism in the life of Korean women, and women of the world. I think every man should read this. As a woman, this book didn’t surprise me, but I enjoyed it

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  • Chen
  • 09-04-20

a must-read for every person

This book will break your heart... and still, you have to listen to it as it tells you the story of every woman in this modern world... even if motherhood is not on the road ahead, it made me face the struggles in the workplace and family life that I have to push away to the back of my head in order to keep going.

2 people found this helpful