Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

pachinkoPachinko follows the story of Sunja and her family through four generations across Korea and Japan. It describes the experiences of Koreans during the Japanese occupation in Korea and the harsh discrimination they had to endure in Japan during that moment in history. Sunja and her family, as well as many Koreans, didn’t have much choice at that time but to struggle in order to survive.

There are so many characters in this book, some we encounter very briefly while some take part throughout the entire story. Even with a large cast of characters, Min Jin Lee was able to let us glimpse into each one of them and how they lead their lives. What I found most interesting was how she managed to put the characters in similar situations and how the characters chose to deal with it.

It’s a lengthy read but don’t let that stop you from reading for the book was greatly-paced, you wouldn’t want to put it down.

Min Jin Lee’s writing style is simple but elegant. The characters seem to speak in a such a way that it penetrates through the heart and touched me and made every part of the story realistic. Somehow, I did not want the book to end. I love that I’ve learned more about some part of history I have been keen of knowing more since I was in high school. And the fact that I have been working for a Korean company for quite some time now makes the read more interesting. In a way, I sort of feel like I understand more about them now.

This was a very entertaining and wonderful read and it could even be a great TV drama.

Highly recommended to everyone.

Quotable Quotes:

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”

“Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge—it’s the only kind of power no one can take away from you.”

“Yes, of course. If you love anyone, you cannot help but share his suffering. If we love our Lord, not just admire him or fear him or want things from him, we must recognize his feelings; he must be in anguish over our sins. We must understand this anguish. The Lord suffers with us. He suffers like us. It is a consolation to know this. To know that we are not in fact alone in our suffering.”

“You want to see a very bad man? Make an ordinary man successful beyond his imagination. Let’s see how good he is when he can do whatever he wants.”

“No one is clean. Living makes you dirty.”

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

vegetarianYeong-hye wakes up from a nightmare one morning and decided to stop eating meat and without hesitation, throws away every meat in their house. And so we follow her story as she loses control of herself little by little. It started firstly with her refusing meat. Secondly, her not being comfortable with her body and lastly, with her physical and mental state drift somewhere out of this world.

The Vegetarian comes in three parts in chronological order from Yeong-hye’s husband, brother-in-law and her sister’s perspectives. I personally would have loved to know Yeong-hye’s thoughts specially about the dream she had that changed everything for her.

This is a short (but not really quick) and compelling read, beautiful at the same time brutal. In it is a depth that demands attention.

Quotable Quotes:

“Why, is it such a bad thing to die?”

“The feeling that she had never really lived in this world caught her by surprise. It was a fact. She had never lived. Even as a child, as far back as she could remember, she had done nothing but endure.”

“The pain feels like a hole swallowing her up, a source of intense fear and yet, at the same time, a strange, quiet peace.”

“Her life was no more than a ghostly pageant of exhausted endurance, no more real than a television drama. Death, who now stood by her side, was as familiar to her as a family member, missing for a long time but now returned.”

“Time was a wave, almost cruel in its relentlessness.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

About Last Night

My home and my new workplace is now far from my favorite Korean restaurant so it’s not really very easy and convenient for me anymore to go and eat Korean food. Last night though, I really can’t suppress my cravings any longer.

So of course, the very tasty and colorful side dishes or banchan (반찬) were served first: kimchi, fish cakes, pajeon, green beans, pickled onions and potato salad.

img_9222

The main dish is haemultang (해물탕) or spicy seafood soup/stew. It’s made with a variety of seafood and some veggies. It’s a very comforting soup/stew specially now that winter’s coming. 🙂

img_9225

How ’bout you? What foods do you crave for nowadays? And do you like Korean food, too? I’d be glad to know… 🙂

Happy Thursday/weekend, homo sapiens!

%d bloggers like this: