Korean ‘healing fiction’ captures hearts of young British readers

Grace Koh, left, discusses 'The Penguin Book of Korean Short Stories' with its editor Bruce Fulton during a Korean Literature Night event at the Korean Cultural Center U.K. in London, May 3. Courtesy of KCCUK

Korean literature is experiencing a surge in popularity across the United Kingdom, driven by a shift in literary preferences among a young and diverse readership.According to the 2023 International Booker Prize, sales of translated fiction increased 22 percent in 2022, compared to the previous year. This uptick is particularly notable among young readers under the age of 35, indicating a generational shift in literary preferences.In response to this growing interest, Penguin Random House UK is expanding its selection of translated literature, with plans to release six titles from Korea this year.The lineup of Korean translated works set for release by Penguin Random House UK in 2024 features several exciting titles. Fictional offerings include “The Rainfall Market” by You Yeong-gwang, which has achieved cult status in Korea, “The Healing Season of Pottery” by Yeon So-min, “Snowglobe” by Park So-young and “Marigold Mind Laundry” by Yun Jung-eun. The publishing company will also feature two essays — “I Decided to Live as Me” by Kim Soo-hyun, a million-copy bestseller in Korea and a favorite of BTS’s Jungkook, and “If You Live to 100, You Might As Well Be Happy” by Rhee Kun-hoo. “The most popular area of translated fiction from Korea has come to be labelled ‘healing fiction’ which is designed to soothe the reader, as it explores contemporary issues around mental health and the pressures of daily life, which are relatable across all cultures,” Penguin Random House said in a statement.

In an interview, Yun, the author of “Marigold Mind Laundry,” noted that she hopes the experience of reading her books will bring comfort and happiness, underscoring the therapeutic quality of her work.Rosa Schierenberg, editorial director at Penguin General, who will be publishing “The Healing Season of Pottery” this autumn, said, “We know that readers across genres are looking for an escape, whether into a different world or simply a different culture. These healing novels are the perfect tonic for busy lives, inviting readers to pause and immerse themselves in a culture that feels exciting and aspirational, especially for the younger generation.”Jane Lawson, deputy publisher at Doubleday Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House known for translating Asian literature such as Hiro Arikawa’s “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” and Michiko Aoyama’s “What You Are Looking for Is in the Library,” credited the surge in popularity of Korean fiction to the curiosity of younger readers.”Younger generations who read in this area are curious to read outside their own cultural familiarity and love to connect with other readers from around the world on social media to share their discoveries, which also include K-drama, K-pop and manhwa,” Lawson said.Doubleday will also release the English edition of prize-winning bestseller, “One Thousand Blues” by Cheon Seon-ran, in the spring of 2025.“I’m thrilled to be publishing such a rising star whose prize-winning novel blends imagination, message and exquisite characterization, all rooted in a sensibility that understands the value of our 슬롯게이밍 natural world,” Lawson said.

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