Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Cho Nam-Joo
Genres: Fiction
Pub. date: Oct. 2016 (read Sep. 2020)

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is a small book that packs a punch. I think this has only recently been translated to English (although I’m not totally sure), but I’m so glad it was because it’s such an interesting read about the lives of Korean women and how relatable sexism is all over the world.

As the name suggests, this book is a short recount of Kim Jiyoung’s life, from her childhood, school years, early career, and eventually motherhood. At every stage of her life Jiyoung recognizes how she is treated differently. How her brother was prioritized above her as a child, how she was misunderstood in middle school, how hard she had to struggle to find a job and how little her employer valued her compared to her male colleagues when she finally did start working. Then it covers the challenges of becoming a mother and the different expectations that are placed on women and how their desires and dreams are always de-prioritized.

There’s nothing shocking in this book. I was in no way surprised by the way society de-valued women or the hardships Jiyoung was up against. But I think seeing these inequalities and microaggressions spread out over the course of one person’s life really does push home the unfairness of it all. When you take into account each incident on it’s own, it’s easy to dismiss, but seeing the collective impact is really frustrating and exhausting.

It’s also easy to ignore the inequalities of those in other countries. “oh but we live in a developed country, it’s much better here”, but the fact was that even though this book takes place in Korea, everything was just so damn relatable! The mentality of boys will be boys as a child just perpetuates society’s reluctance to ever hold men accountable for their actions. Prioritizing your son’s needs feeds into a culture of valuing and rewarding men’s contributions more than women’s. And preparing only your daughters for parenthood and marriage creates a generation of men that have no domestic skills and leave women to assume all the roles of unpaid labour.

It’s a simple book and a quick read, but a meaningful one. I love what the author did with the ending and thought it was so genius. It’s easy to identify the ways in which society has failed, but how can we possibly change it when there’s so little understanding or desire from men to see any change. It’s a system that has always benefited men, so even though they might empathize with women like Jiyoung, ultimately it makes no difference to them. The system benefits them and therefore there’s no incentive to change it. I think this is one of the greatest challenges feminism faces and no matter where women are from, we can all relate.

A Life Update

Hello!

First of all, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for supporting this blog as I’ve been getting up and running over the past few months. It’s been a lot of fun for me and I’m loving sharing all my bookish thoughts. Please continue to like and comment on my posts as it helps generate more traffic on my site and I love talking all things book related!

April has been a bit of a whirlwind month for me – I’ve been doing a lot of volunteering over the past few weekends and this week I’ve been running all over town trying to get everything I need to go on vacation! Tonight I’m leaving Canada and I’m heading off to Vietnam for about 3 weeks with my boyfriend to do some exploring and sightseeing! I have a few book reviews queued up from the past week or so that I’ll try and post while I’m away, but I’ll be switching over to my other blog, The Road Goes Ever On, for the next few weeks to post about my travels (before I got into book reviews, I was a travel blogger)! If you’re interested in following along in my travels, you can do so on my other blog 🙂

So there may not be many reviews over the next few weeks, but I’ve still got a ton of books queued up on my kindle for those plane and train rides along the way.

Thanks for all the love!

Maria