After K-pop, translated Korean books are now the latest obsession — here are the top Korean authors you should read right now

After K-pop, translated Korean books are now the latest obsession — here are the top Korean authors you should read right now

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Text: Isabel Joy Kua

Editor: Aravin Sandran

From K-pop girl groups to the trend-setting runways of Seoul Fashion Week, South Korea has the world transfixed with their unique take on arts and culture. With more than 80 literary works set to be translated and published in 22 languages, Korean authors are now set to spark plenty of buzz in 2019. From Han Kang to Shin Kyung Sook, we've rounded up four of the biggest names you should check out right now.

Han Kang


Widely acclaimed for exploring difficult themes such as violence, Han Kang is best known for her novel The Vegetarian, which was first published in 2007 and became the first Korean-language novel to win the Man Booker International Prize. The Vegetarian follows the story of a woman who becomes vegetarian after having nightmares of blood-soaked images of animal slaughter. As the protagonist falls deeper into her newfound eating habit, she grows increasingly distant from her family as well as her former self. Han has since released other novels that have been translated into English such as Human Acts, which went on to win the Malaparte Prize, Italy's most-authoritative literary award.

Hwang Sok-yong


Arguably Korea's most renowned author, Hwang Sok Yong has been the recipient of Korea's most prestigious literary prizes that include the Manhae Literary Prize and Isan Literary prize. Hwang's multi-volume epic Jang Gilsan, which has been commonly regarded as one of his finest work, spans over a decade from the mid-70s to the mid-80s and was serialised in a daily newspaper. It used the parable of a medieval bandit to describe the political rivalry between North and South Korea. Hwang's newest release At Dusk chronicles the story of a successful architect in Seoul who receives a message from a long-forgotten childhood love that sets him on a path of self-discovery.

Kim Un-su 


Kim Un-su recently made his English-language debut with his latest release The Plotters  a noir thriller with potent dark humour that's based on the premise that there are professional 'plotters' behind every assassination. The crime fiction is set to be made into a motion picture directed by Hur Jin-ho.

Shin Kyung-sook


The first South Korean and first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 for Please Look After Mom, Shin Kyung-sook is no doubt breaking new ground in the international writing community. Please Look After Mom details the events that follow when sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of a subway station. Shin's first book to be translated into English and has sold over a whopping two million copies.

Selected titles are available at local bookstores including Kinokuniya.