Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
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. In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A 30-something “millennial everywoman,” she recently left her white-collar desk job 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. 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. Her 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 cure her, or even discover what truly ails her?
ABOUT THE BOOK CLUB
All are welcome to join our book club! We read one book every two months and alternate between week days and weekends so all members can attend. Books with feminist themes are chosen by a member vote, and we discuss and debate the works over snacks and beverages. It's fun, free, and socially distanced!