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South Korea is not only a hyperliterate society, it’s hyper-literary. Young Poon, one of the largest chaebols, or corporate conglomerates, lists its areas of business as mining, electronics and books. When a K-pop star was recently seen holding a new feminist novel, Cho Nam-joo’s Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, it sparked a nationwide social-feed-filling debate about the status of women (it’s being published by Anansi in April). Korean lit has a 1,500-year history (at least), but most of the rest of the world only started tuning in when Han Kang’s The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International Prize for fiction in 2016. And now with Parasite getting further foreign plaudits, it seems the world may finally be ready for the stories that seep out from between the cracks caused by multiple occupations, famines, a devastating war that broke the country in two, and a culture of barely concealed political and corporate corruption that has seen every president since 1980 save one (who served for 61 days) land in court, and then usually prison. (..)

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