Are you a bookworm? Make use of your passion for reading to accelerate your Korean learning! This collection of the top Korean novels will get you started on your Korean reading journey. Whether you are in your Korean studies (or if you’re seeking a nice Korean book in English! ), this list will provide you with something interesting to read.
I’ll be giving the finest books to you to get started studying Korean so that you can read novels more effectively. In addition, I’ll be sharing a few other resources that can help you learn Korean big time!
If you have seen Korean Dramas, you must have seen larger-than-life book stores and characters reading novels now and then. This creates curiosity about Korean and books. The fact is that Korean loves reading books.
Korea has a thriving book culture that is second to none. In addition to books, they offer huge bookstores that carry various other things. Comic and book cafés may be found around the city, where you can relax and read to your heart’s delight.
And Korea has excellent literature that will keep you enthralled for a long time.
Best Korean Books
If you’re seeking the greatest Korean stories to immerse yourself in and learn more about the culture, here are the places to begin your search.
These books are bestsellers and widely read contemporary novels that provide insight into Korean culture.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The decision to become a vegetarian may not seem like much of an issue. The Vegetarian, on the other hand, presents a different narrative.
Yeong-hye and her spouse have a rather ordinary life. Yeong-hye, on the other hand, decides to become a vegetarian as a result of bizarre and gruesome nightmares. And as soon as she does, everything around her begins to crumble.
The novel mirrors contemporary Korean culture, particularly how strict conventions are preserved.
Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-sook
Please Look After Mom is a well-known international bestseller, and you may be already familiar with it. However, if you haven’t read it yet, you’re losing out on a great read.
A 69-year-old mother and wife become separated from her husband while using the congested Seoul subway system and go missing. During their search for her, her two children and husband realize that they don’t have a new photo of her to use for the missing fliers.
This prompts them to explore a little further and consider the question… Is it even possible that they know Mom?
The narration of the major characters is used to tell the story in alternating chapters. It focuses on how well we genuinely know folks in our immediate vicinity (especially our moms).
Tower by Bae Myung-Hoon
The Tower is a science fiction novel first published in Korea in 2009. However, it was only later, in 2021, that an English translation was made available!
The Tower comprises a collection of short stories that are all intertwined with one another. The Beanstalk is the Tower’s name, a massive skyscraper that functions as a sovereign nation in its own right. Each narrative provides a glimpse into the weird and hypermodern world we live in.
Kim Ji-Young, Born in 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
Kim Ji-Young, Born 1982, is a worldwide best-selling novel about a millennial Korean lady who goes on a psychotic break and then recovers.
When Ji-young gives birth to her kid, she is expected to leave her career and devote her entire time caring for her husband and child. But then she begins to exhibit unusual psychotic symptoms, such as imitating the voices of other women, which are a hallmark of psychosis.
She eventually seeks treatment from a male psychiatrist. From there, the tale follows her journey as a woman in Korea, from infancy through maturity, as told through her eyes. It demonstrates how gender discrimination and trauma-impacted her life and mental well-being.
The Plotters by Un-Su Kim
Talk about an adrenalin rush!
The Plotters is a thriller set in an alternate Seoul that recounts the story of an assassins guild that operates out of an abandoned library. Reseng, one of the assassins raised by Old Raccoon, has developed into one of the greatest in the business.
However, he comes into a mysterious scheme and must choose whether or not he can take control of the situation and the game.
Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park
A storyline of Seoul nightlife, morning hangovers, and a commentary on millennial and LGBT life in Korea are told through the eyes of the main character.
Young is followed by love in the big city. He enjoys throwing down with soju, meeting up with Tinder matches, and hanging out with his best buddy and roommate, Jaehee, among other activities.
Jaehee, on the other hand, decides to settle down, leaving Young to begin growing up and take responsibility for his life and his ill mother. All the while, he may be on the verge of meeting the love of his life.
Other resources to learn Korean
Talk to Me in Korean
Talk to Me in Korean is one of the best-known sites for learning Korean. They have it all – podcasts, YouTube videos, online curriculum, and many books and textbooks.
Their textbooks are known for being easy to use and study. And they provide a tonne of variety of books on different areas and graded readings.
They have their grammar books from levels 1 – 10, spanning from absolute beginner to advanced learners. They feature audio, so you may listen and practise pronunciation.
Korean Grammar in Use
It is recommended that you already know how to read and write Hangul and some basic Korean terms before starting with this textbook.
Korean Grammar in Use, widely regarded as one of the greatest Korean grammar books available, is straightforward to read and concentrates on teaching you how to construct your phrases.
My italki seonsangnim (“teacher”) used this textbook with me, and I would strongly suggest it. In addition, it is fairly priced on Amazon.com!
In addition, there are intermediate and advanced versions of the textbook available for additional study.
90 Day Korean
Although it is not a standard textbook, 90 Day Korean contains lessons and activities that must be completed in an organized course setting!
90 Day Korean is one of my favourite Korean courses for those who want to learn how to speak the language quickly. It’s a well-organized, simple-to-follow course that includes plenty of vocabulary and grammatical practice.
In addition, they educate you about various entertaining topics, such as KPop and KDramas!
Here are some additional Korean terms that are linked to reading that you should be familiar with:
- To read: 읽다, itda
- Book: 책, chaek
- Novel: 소설, soseol
- To write: 쓰기, sseugi
- Author: 작가, jakga
- Reading (noun): 독서, dokseo
- Comic: 만화, manhwa
- Bookstore: 서점, seojeom
- Webtoons: 웹툰, webtun