Korean Crime Fiction

This page is an index of all of the works currently reviewed on the blog that are written by Korean authors.

A note on naming structures: Korean names are written in the format of Family Name then their Given Name. When translated into English some publishers have opted to keep that structure while others have reversed the names.

The names below have been written as they have been written on their English language publications both in structure and spelling. They have been ordered however by family name.

J

You-Jeong Jeong

The Good Son

A law student wakes up to find himself covered with blood and his mother lying dead on the floor with her throat slit. He has no memory of what happened and tries to piece things back together while covering up the murder.

At times it is really quite clever and I think it does build to a powerful and satisfying finish.

Read the review here

Seven Years of Darkness

Suwon was just eleven when his father was arrested for murder and perpetrating the Seryong Lake Disaster by opening the sluice gates to flood the village below. He receives two packages on the same day – one containing a manuscript recounting the events of that night, the other containing a magazine article that seems to follow him wherever he goes and one of his shoes.

While Seven Years of Darkness is not always a comfortable read, particularly in the passages describing the events leading up to the girl’s death, it is well written and it builds to a compelling conclusion.

Read the review here

K

Young-Ha Kim

Your Republic is Calling You

After twenty years of living in South Korea, sleeper agent Ki-Yong unexpectedly receives a message from the north telling him he has to return in twenty-four hours.

Although not all of its ideas are entirely successful, this is a provocative and creative work. Those who enjoy stories that explore complex cultural situations and interpersonal relationships will likely pull more out of this.

Read the review here

Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories

A collection of four short stories. The stories different in subject matter but each feature some aspect of crime as a key element.

Those looking primarily for detective stories will probably want to pass over this collection but there are some really interesting ideas here that are worth exploring for those willing to venture outside the genre.

Read the review here

P

Hye-Young Pyun

The Law of Lines

We follow two women as they each go in search for answers concerning the suicides of a relative (a father for one, a half-sister for the other).

I cannot say I enjoyed The Law of Lines but I certainly found its discussion of poverty and the extents people will go to in order to survive interesting, if really bleak.

Read the review here

Y

Yun Ko-Eun

The Disaster Tourist

Jungle specializes in package tours to areas that have been affected by natural disasters. An employee whose career is floundering is given an opportunity to travel to an underperforming destination to evaluate it and discovers a plan to revive its fortunes…

A fascinating exploration of the ethics of tourism and of the relationship between people and the corporations that employ them. It may not be a pure genre work but it is highly recommended nonetheless.

Read the review here