“Kim Ji-young, born in 1982”, the best-selling South Korean literary book abroad


SEOUL, 18 Jan. (Yonhap) — “Kim Ji-young, born in 1982” has been the most read South Korean literary book overseas for the past five years, according to data released on Tuesday.

According to data from the Literary Translation Institute of Korea, Cho Nam-joo’s feminist novel has been translated into 10 different languages ​​and sold over 300,000 copies in the period 2016-2020. The Japanese translation of the book, in particular, has sold over 200,000 copies since its release in 2018.

Han Kang’s novel, winner of the 2016 International Man Booker Prize, “The Vegetarian”, which has sold more than 160,000 copies in 13 foreign languages, came in second place.

Son Won-pyeong’s “Almond” sold over 90,000 copies in Japan and Jung Yoo-jung’s “The Origin of Species” sold over 20,000 copies in Brazil.

The data was based on the sales of 492 kinds of South Korean literary translations, which account for about 75 percent of the 658 kinds of Korean books of the genre published overseas with support from the state agency. Among them, 34 types of books sold more than 5,000 copies during the five-year period, with 16 types achieving the feat within a year of their release in 2020.

A German translation of Kim Young-ha’s “A Guide to Memorizing the Murderer”, published in February 2020, sold more than 10,000 copies by the end of the year, boosted by its victory at two German literary prizes the same year.


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