Lee Jae-ik; Hwangsobooks: 343 pp., 11,800 won
A novelist and radio producer of SBS released a Korean-style entertaining mystery novel involving boys who grew up in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, in the 1990s and the Korean entertainment world.
The plot opens with the suicide of top actress Seo Yeon-hui and the gathering of her friends from high school who mourn the loss. A male magazine editor Hyun U-ju, one of Seo’s old friends who also had a romantic interest in her becomes suspicious about the circumstances of her sudden death and decides to ferret out the mysteries surrounding her.
Hyun was a member of a school band named “Apgujeong Boys” led by Park Dae-ung, who later married Seo and runs a famed entertainment agency. Hyun reflects on the memories of high school life and tries to find out what really happened between Seo and Park.
The author himself graduated from Gujeong High School, now Apgujeong High School, and depicts the urban culture of well-off people living in Gangnam, southern Seoul nearly two decades ago based on his experiences.
The events in the novel echo some of the recent actual suicides of top actresses or the scandals involving idol group members. However, the author said that he is a “novelist,” not a journalist seeking the truth and it is pure fiction, not related to actual events.
— Kwon Mee-yoo
Kong Hyo-jin’s Notebook
Kong Hyo-jin; Bookhouse: 256 pp., 12,800 won
Model, actor and fashionista Kong Hyo-jin has released a book titled “Notebook.” While many celebrities have written essays about their lives both in and out of the spotlight, Kong has chosen a bit more inclusive topic for her fans: the environment. Yes, this book may have a lot of photos of herself, her dog and her surroundings, but the fundamental goal is informing readers on how to preserve the environment and live a greener life.
“It may be hard to think of the environment when you talk about actresses. But I thought the small steps I take with other people can become a great achievement in the future,” King wrote in the preface.
This book won’t satisfy those looking for in-depth and long term ways in saving the earth, as this book is rather light, practical and simple. Instead of approaching ways of becoming green in a burdensome and troublesome way, Kong presents easy ideas, such as skipping shampoo once in a while, shopping at flea markets and using rechargeable batteries, plus offers a look inside her personal lifestyle habits.
Yukiya Shoji; Dasan Books Co.: 288 pp., 11,000 won
If there was a single moment in your life you could return to, what would it be? Acclaimed Japanese author Yukiya Shoji (“Tokyo Bandwagon”) continues to explore the subtle complexities and depths of human relationships in her latest novel.
Seven entirely normal, separate people — a career woman divorcee, a college student in love with two people, a motorcyclist, a talented washout, among others — all have one thing in common: each of them are mere minutes away from their untimely deaths. Just before, however, an apparition appears before them with an odd proposition: “If you give me a memory, I will take you back to that moment.”
And just like that, the individuals are given the chance to relive their past experiences, emotions and incidents, but the moment each chooses is a surprisingly unlikely choice.
Traversing their memory scopes, the omnibus novel offers an inspiring look into man, the impossibility of finding happiness alone, and the invariable staying-power of love. Shoji writes in a simple, yet poignant, style, letting the strength of the characters’ emotions shine through.
— Ines Min
Glenn Beck’s Common Sense
Glenn Beck; Boogle Books Co.: 280 pp., 13,000 won
That ever-controversial American political pundit Glenn Beck has made his way onto Korean shores. His book (full title: “The Case of Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine”), which reached the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list late last year, seeks to spur contemporary modern audiences into action against their government.
As the title divulges his inspiration, Beck takes note from that famous American patriot Paine, who wrote a cutting proof on why citizens should stand up for their beliefs and goals. Starting with a foreword that speaks directly to the reader (“I think I know who you are.”), Beck — famous for his extravagantly excessive personality on his TV and radio programs — defines his audience and endeavors to pull them by the hand through his philosophy. His reader: the average American, struggling to keep their head up and tired of feeling ignored, victimized by those politicians who were elected to keep them safe.
— Ines Min