South Korea

The easiest country to complete by far is the one I live in!

Food: Tteokbokki

This was my first time making tteokbokki, as I usually get it from a restaurant. I found some vegan tteokbokki sauce a while ago so thought it was a good time to use it! Both the sauce and tteok (rice cakes) had the recipe on the packet, but they were slightly different. I followed the one from the sauce packet. It was way easier to make than I’d expected, I basically just tossed it all in a pot with water and left it for 20 minutes. At the end I added the fish cakes and some carrots. I should have added more water, because I put in more tteok than the sauce recipe wanted. This sauce packet wasn’t spicy at all, so I’d probably go up a level or two if I bought this kind again. Now that I know how easy it is to make, I’m sure I’ll make it again…although it is better at the local restaurants.

Book: 82년생 김지영 (Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982) by Cho Nam-ju

I chose this book because it was short and looked easy enough to read, for my first novel in Korean. That being said, I missed a ton, although I didn’t realize until I read a review in English after finishing it. While reading, I was under the impression it was just sort of a slice-of-life type novel, about the main character’s life. It is that, but there’s a lot more going on that I didn’t pick up on. The main character, Kim Jiyoung, has dissociative episodes where she thinks she’s a different woman- her mother, her friend, etc. Looking back, this makes the first chapter make a lot more sense. She thinks she’s her mother so she speaks to her in-laws with a different formality and different words than she should use. I don’t know the words you would use to talk to your child’s in-laws, so that whole bit went straight over my head. There were long sections without actual quoted dialogue, which I found a little hard to follow as well. I also was confused about the narrator, especially at the last chapter.

Movie: 82년생 김지영 (Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982)

Photo copyright: Netflix

Since I knew I wouldn’t understand everything, I chose to watch the movie adaptation after I finished the novel. I was really curious how the movie would work, because the novel isn’t fully linear- the first chapter is set in 2015, then it jumps back to her childhood and goes from there. I think they did a good job of it, although they set it up more like flashbacks while following her current life. I understood a lot more watching the movie, and it was a lot easier to tell when she was having an episode. The visual reactions of those around her made more sense to me than reading them in the novel. Overall I thought it was a good movie.

Other movie suggestions:

  • A Taxi Driver
  • Man From Nowhere
  • I Can Speak
  • Parasite
  • The Good, the Bad, the Weird

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