Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

by Cho Nam-Joo

  • Date Read: 11th April 2021
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Available: Amazon

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 was published in South Korea in 2016. More than a million copies were sold, the first Korean novel to do so in nearly a decade, and it is attributed to kick-starting the countries feminist movement. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has been translated into 18 languages, in English by Jamie Chang.

We follow Kim Jiyoung, an ordinary women, from her birth through to the present day. At each stage of her life we see the oppression, sexism, and misogyny she experiences, and the impact this has on her mental health. A short, matter-of-fact read, written in a clinical tone, Cho Nam-Joo draws on her own experience a stay at home mother to craft Kim Jiyoung, the Korean everywoman.


Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy. Kim Jiyoung is a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own.

Kim Jiyoung is a female preyed upon by male teachers at school. Kim Jiyoung is a daughter whose father blames her when she is harassed late at night.  

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

Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely.

Kim Jiyoung is depressed.

Kim Jiyoung is mad.

Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.

Kim Jiyoung is every woman.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is the life story of one young woman born at the end of the twentieth century and raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that 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.