• Book
  • English(English)




    Title: Cabinet

    Author: Kim Un-su

    Genre: Literature / Novel


    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek ( / +82-2-6919-7733)


  • About the book

    Inside Cabinet No. 13 is mankind’s last—or perhaps its first?—human being, the Symptomer. 


    Toporers awake from a sleep that lasts for 172 days, Pinocchio slowly turns into wood as the wooden finger that replaced the one he has lost generates flesh and circulates blood, Neo-hermaphroditus impregnates itself by injecting its sperm into its vagina only because its androgynous form allows it to.


    Inside this anything but ordinary old cabinet are strange and extraordinary stories that will make your eyes pop out, or temporarily nauseate, infuriate, or devastate you.


    The narrator is also an ordinary office worker in his thirties who has been frivolously organizing files in the cabinet and drinking can after can of beer for the past 178 days. He has a coworker, Jungeun Son, whose love for sushi has made her blow her monthly salary on food, at times consuming more than one hundred extra large pieces of sushi in one sitting. 


    The author calls them Symptomers. “There are people who display the signs of their mutation. Because there is no clear definition of them in academia, we call them ‘people with symptoms’ or ‘Symptomers.’ Symptomers deviate slightly from what biologist and anthropologists define as Homo sapiens. They occupy a middle world between humans of today and those of the future. They may be the last human being but they may as well be the first.”


    Inconceivably weird as they are, you might have any one of these stories hiding deep inside your own cabinet. It is the author who brings them to life with his skilled pen for you to enjoy. Each of the stories and the narration come together, finding their places like Lego blocks, and make up a finished piece of work. 


    Winner of the 12th Munhakdongne Novel Award, “Cabinet” is a story about the files of these Symptomers and the narrator who organizes them. Our ever-changing world abounds with file upon file of stories that spark disbelief. So who is to dismiss those who deny their past, delete their memories, and start over from scratch as fictional? How many of us are in such pain we would gladly trade places with a cat or even a wooden doll? And how many can’t love anyone else but themselves or their alter egos?


    The cabinet is a container that holds the bare truth of the world we live in. The author has placed it as is inside the cabinet and through solid writing and structured storytelling, achieves optimal temperature and humidity to maintain its freshness. Readers who want some fresh stories need only to open up this cabinet. 


    Telling the strangest and most frightening of tales, the writer assures readers that his is just an “ordinary” story that is “nothing but the truth”—as ordinary as a rush of wind, flowers blooming, and snowfall.


    And you think: What strange stories do I keep in my cabinet?

    About the author

    Kim Un-su published his debut novel in 2002 and went on to win the 12th Munhakdongne Novel Award with his first full-length novel, Cabinet in 2006. Literary critic Sujeong Shin found the winning novel to have “originality and boldness, and a mammoth of a story that can blow away the world of fiction as we know it.” Novelist Eun Heekyung praised Cabinet for “the artful lies it tells” and for being “a novel written with such scrupulous attention to its plot for a structure that is all but conventional.” Kim Un-su’s bibliography includes a full-length novel, Architects and a collection of short stories, Jab.Cabinet was translated into French and published in 2013 by Ginkgo Editeur. 

    Media Response/Awards Received

    A novel that explores the meeting between Gong Dukgeun who after a long period of unemployment, finally finds work as an administrative assistant in a research lab and the Symptomers whom Gong comes across when he accidentally finds himself inside Room 311, office of the eccentric Dr. Kwon. It is Arabian Nights, science fiction novel, real life story documentary, and theatre of the absurd all rolled into one. It takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through stories of the strangest people explained with strangely persuasive scientific terms. It leaves the reader with the same feeling of void and emptiness of the end of a roller coaster ride as well.

    - Kyunghyang Shinmun


    “He is proof Korean literature has more than one genre.”

    - Les influences

Translated Books (13)

News from Abroad (19)