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Publisher's Summary

Vulture Best Books of the Year (So Far)

A New York Times Editors Choice Selection

A fierce international best seller 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 30-something-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. 

©2016 Cho Nam-joo (P)2020 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book that causes you to think

i loved it. its my first audiobook and it was a great short but important one. i recommend it to you if you want to enhance your viewpoint on women

4 people found this helpful

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Was hoping for MORE

I think my expectations were slightly elevated and while this book was good it never really took hold of me. Some parts were brilliant and other sections dragged. Interesting concept and really heartbreaking when you think about women’s rights (or lack of) in modern day Korea.

1 person found this helpful

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This is not a novel.

To me this is not a novel but more like a documentary of the modern Korean women. What's interesting is that I read this book three years ago just when I was preparing for my upcoming wedding. At the time I simply did not like the book and found it even a little disturbing. Three years later, I finally see the very reality this book carries. I now realize that this book was a careful warning to all women written out of love, compassion and companionship. I recommend all mothers and fathers of daughters and daughters to read this book and know both the light and the dark sides when it comes to making a life decisions. That way, you can actually own the decision and not be the one being pushed into.
Also, if you don't feel related to this story even though you are a woman, then it is either you have yet experienced bitter taste of life much (as I mentioned, I've been there.), or you are living in a much too blessed society. And if you are luckly in the latter case, consider not taking it for granted and start caring for other women in the world. Let's make this world a better place for the sake of the past, present, and future generation. We can do it ;)

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Newspaper/magazine article in novel's clothing.

Despite providing valuable insights into the culture and history of gender equality in South Korea, the conflict the marketing would suggest the book revolves around is never resolved. The protagonist's odd behaviour is addressed only in the first and last 10 minutes of this book. Yes, you read that right. No, the disturbing, fascinating medical issue described in the blurb is not mentioned even once between these two 10 minute bookends. Even the heartbreaking death of a woman the protagonist periodically assumes the identity of goes unmentioned during the detailed descritption of the most memoriable moments in the protagonist's life. The focus is placed instead on discussions of the value of hand-me-down baby clothes and the economic efficacy of various restaurants and investments.

The author opts to lay out the protagonist's life like a long magazine article, with the protagonist experiencing classic examples of sexist discrimination in a dull, linear fashion, with the narrator citing the occasional statistic and the opinions of the author in a journalistic fashion. The narrator is a supposedly a male psychiatrist, a baffling, last-minute reveal, given that no element of the recount of the protagonist's life implies that it is he who is speaking nor that he is imitating her manner of speaking. When the psychiatrist rounds off the story in those last 10 minutes, his behaviour and phrasing is laughably unconvincing.

The prose of this book is like that of a newspaper or documentary script, not a novel. I appreciate the quality of the writing and the good work of the translator, but the 'story' isn't really there. The issues discussed and the experiences of the protagonist are sad and worthy of great attention, but why would you listen to a 4 hour audiobook when a few news and journal articles would provide more information on the subject in less time? Choe's performance was dry and unexciting, but by no means bad.