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Ji Young became different people from time to time. Some of them were living, others were dead, all of them women she knew. No matter how you looked at it, it wasn’t a joke or a prank. Truly, flawlessly, completely, she became that person.

When was the last time you asked your mother how she was doing? We often forget about the sacrifices our mothers make for us as a parent and as women. Books like Kim Ji Young come to us as a wake up call and urge us to stand up against the unfair practices of discrimaination in the society.

Kim Ji Young, Born 1982, is a Korean novel written by former scriptwriter, Cho Nam Joo and translated to English by Jamie Chang. It came into publication in the year 2016 with Minumsa and has since sold over a million copies, becoming the first million selling Korean novel. It was even adapted to a film in 2019 starring Gong Yoo and Jung Yu Mi, which also gained a lot of popularity.

Kim Ji Young tells the story of all mothers, all women. Following the life of Ji Young and her family, the novel talks about the struggle a woman has to go through throughout her life. It takes you on a journey of awareness and walks you step by step on what it takes to be a woman and to grow up and live in Korea. Captivating you from the very beginning, Cho has written the book in a simple manner with a simple story which in every way manages to capture your heart. Kim Ji Young is not a complicated novel, neither does it take a lot from you to understand it, no major plot twists, no characters you love or hate, or sad or happy endings. It is a simple story about a woman’s life and is simply heart breaking.

Cho writes the book with ease, giving us the right amount of information when needed. She writes in such a way that the book keeps you interested till the very end and even after being translated it does not lose its message or magic.

The book Kim Ji Young talks about the sacrifices a woman makes in her life. It talks of empowerment, of oppression, the discrimation women face and the ways society has failed women throughout time. And as you read the novel you realise these topics are not just limited to Korea but also are a huge part of other societies, like ours. More than often we ignore or do not bother to think about  the sacrifices our mothers make for us, even though it may be an unconscious action on our part, it does exist. Books like Kim Ji Young help us to some extent spread awareness about topics like these. It is an eye opening read that urges us to question the prejudices in society. And forces us to look at  the little things we often tend to ignore and not give much importance to- the dreams and the life our mothers give up to take care of us and our dreams. Kim Ji Young is an eye opening and an emotional read. A similar book to the above mentioned is The Vegetarian by Han Kang which deals with somewhat similar topics. 

Aysha Kulsum is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Rutba Iqbal

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.

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Written by Aysha Kulsum

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