I loved this book! It tells the story of a woman who one day starts acting like her mom/daughter/other women in her life, then tells her life story that lead to that point. It details all the misogyny she’s faced as a woman growing up in South Korea. I’m white but grew up with mostly Korean friends and now teach at a Korean school, so I thought reading this book would help me understand the Korean women in my life better. It touches upon things that women worldwide have faced, but also shows how their culture can uplift misogyny.
I liked how Kim Jiyoung’s life story is actually tame compared to that of some other characters (co workers get videos of them undressing on a porn site, classmates get in trouble for stopping a flasher, etc). My mother the pickme criticized the book for being too depressing, but I think Cho Nam-Joo made her an “everywoman” type of character by giving her not the worst of misogyny, but enough to be noticeable (and cause her mental breakdown)
The book has a lot of studies and citations alongside her story. I was confused as to why at first, but get to the last chapter and it’ll all make sense. It also explains why the entire book is about misogyny. I wish they had included more of her life outside of that, just to give more of a picture of the character, but the ending makes it make sense. I also like that her doctor tries to diagnose her but eventually realizes he can’t. The point isn’t that she has a mental illness, as that puts the responsibility on her. The point is that she’s having a natural reaction to unnatural treatment. It’s metaphorical of her loss of identity.
I think this is a great book to read or recommend to someone who doesn’t understand patriarchy or how deep it runs. I read this to my parents while we were on vacation (didn’t finish) and while my mom got angry and wouldn’t let me read more, my dad thought it was depressing but also informative and that he really felt for women in Korea. I think if he finished it he may understand life for women in the US (where we are) as well. We can tell people about misogyny until we’re blue in the face, but they won’t understand until they live a life where it permeates every aspect of their being, and this book simulates that for them.
Overall I loved this book and I think it’s so valuable to the feminist movement right now. This should be more popular than it already is
Kim Jiyoung is depressed. Kim Jiyoung is mad. Kim Jiyoung is her own woman. Kim Jiyoung is every woman.