Book Reviews and Highlights

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

Cho Nam-Joo

  • Asian
  • Feminism
  • Fiction
  • Literary
  • Kim Jiyoung is thirty- three years old, or thirty- four in Korean age.
  • Autumn, 2015 | Page: 1
  • #first-sentence
  • After all this time— the stories they shared, as countless as raindrops, the caresses as soft and gentle as snowflakes, and the beautiful daughter who took after them both— his wife of three years, whom he married after two years of passionate romance, felt like someone else.
  • Autumn, 2015 | Page: 6
  • #marriage #relationship-change
  • “It isn’t work when you’re feeding your own family. The point of the holidays is to get together, make and eat food together.”
  • Autumn, 2015 | Page: 9
  • #family #cooking
  • The combination of her tone, expression, angle of head tilt, position of shoulders, and her breathing sent them a message that was hard to summarize in one sentence, but, if Jiyoung tried anyway, it went something like this: How dare you try to take something that belongs to my precious grandson!
  • Childhood, 1982–1994 | Page: 14
  • #sexism #grandmother
  • It was a given that fresh rice hot out of the cooker was served in the order of father, brother, and grandmother, and that perfect pieces of tofu, dumplings, and patties were the brother’s while the girls ate the ones that fell apart.
  • Childhood, 1982–1994 | Page: 15
  • #sexism #cooking
  • The more their mother praised, the more impossible it became for Jiyoung to complain.
  • Childhood, 1982–1994 | Page: 15
  • #mother-daughter
  • “Your talents are too good to waste on weather strips. You should get into arts and crafts. I think you’ll be good at it.”
  • Childhood, 1982–1994 | Page: 22
  • #skills
  • “So why didn’t you become a teacher?” “I had to work to send my brothers to school. That’s how it was with everyone. All women lived like that back then.” “Why don’t you become a teacher now?” “Now I have to work to send you kids to school. That’s how it is with everyone. All mothers live like this these days.”
  • Childhood, 1982–1994 | Page: 26
  • #maternal-sacrifice
  • Jiyoung felt she was a rock, small but heavy and unyielding, holding down her mother’s long skirt train.
  • Childhood, 1982–1994 | Page: 27
  • #mother-daughter
  • Jiyoung grew up being told to be cautious, to dress conservatively, to be “ladylike.” That it’s your job to avoid dangerous places, times of day and people. It’s your fault for not noticing and not avoiding.
  • Adolescence, 1995–2000 | Page: 56
  • #sexism
  • He was a good worker— steadfast, conscientious, always a perfectionist, and a model employee— who found himself at a loss and visibly shaken to realize his livelihood was under threat.
  • Adolescence, 1995–2000 | Page: 57
  • #work
  • “Companies find smart women taxing. Like now— you’re being very taxing, you know?”
  • Early Adulthood, 2001–2011 | Page: 84
  • #sexism #work
  • Her boss grumbled, “This is why we don’t hire women.” She replied, “Women don’t stay because you make it impossible for us to stay.”
  • Early Adulthood, 2001–2011 | Page: 85
  • #sexism #work
  • Just as the mermaid princess lost her voice in exchange for legs, do middle- aged men lose their hiccups in exchange for backward ideas?
  • Early Adulthood, 2001–2011 | Page: 93
  • #the-little-mermaid
  • That was the dream: walking with a group of people also wearing lanyard IDs, holding their purse and phone in the same hand, chatting about the lunch menu.
  • Early Adulthood, 2001–2011 | Page: 97
  • #work
  • Do laws and institutions change values, or do values drive laws and institutions?
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 120
  • #society #law
  • She couldn’t win: exercising all the rights and utilizing the benefits made her a freeloader, and fighting tooth and nail to avoid the accusation made things harder for colleagues in a similar situation.
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 126
  • #sexism #work
  • “Help out? What is it with you and ‘helping out?’ You’re going to ‘help out’ with chores. ‘Help out’ with raising our baby. ‘Help out’ with finding me a new job. Isn’t this your house, too? Your home? Your child? And if I work, don’t you spend my pay, too? Why do you keep saying ‘help out’ like you’re volunteering to pitch in on someone else’s work?”
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 131
  • #sexism #domestic-work
  • Just as putting the care of your child in another’s hands doesn’t mean you don’t love your child, quitting and looking after your child doesn’t mean you have no passion for your career.
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 132
  • #work #childcare
  • Some demeaned it as “bumming around at home,” while others glorified it as “work that sustains life,” but none tried to calculate its monetary value. Probably because the moment you put a price on something, someone has to pay.
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 137
  • #domestic-work
  • While offenders were in fear of losing a small part of their privilege, the victims were running the risk of losing everything.
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 145
  • #sexism
  • Jiyoung became different people from time to time. Some of them were living, others were dead, all of them women she knew. No matter how you looked at it, it wasn’t a joke or a prank. Truly, flawlessly, completely, she became that person.
  • Marriage, 2012–2015 | Page: 154
  • #identity
  • Even the best female employees can cause many problems if they don’t have the childcare issue taken care of. I’ll have to make sure her replacement is unmarried.
  • 2016 | Page: 163
  • #sexism #work