Kim Jiyoung is a novella detailing the discrimination South Korean women face at school, the workplace, and in their personal lives. The book is written as if you are Kim Jiyoung’s psychologist, listening to her recount her life after her psychic deterioration. Interspersed with personal stories are statistics detailing how common her experiences are – just like the name Kim Jiyoung was the most common name for Korean baby girls in 1982. She elaborates on her life from youth as an unwanted female child to adulthood and having to quit her job after having a baby she doesn’t truly want. She’s been stalked, harassed, and experienced thousands of microaggressions and eventually can take it no longer - she begins to impersonate different women she’s known, alive or dead, with startling accuracy. Her husband is frightened enough to take her to the psychologist. The book finishes with even him dismissing her, showing discrimination at every level.
I didn’t necessarily enjoy this book, but I think it’s a vital and extremely informative read. Many say that it has sparked the modern Korean feminist movement and it provides a different perspective on misogyny from the Western feminist canon. Kim Jiyoung is a work that will make you angry and frustrated and sorry. I think that the whole psychological deterioration element could have been executed better, but it provided an interesting hook that allowed the author to detail Kim Jiyoung’s experiences more effectively. Overall, this is an enlightening and powerful read for anyone, and I would give it four stars