The Greatest Korean "Fiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

    The novel is a sweeping historical saga that follows four generations of a Korean family from the early 20th century to the 1980s, beginning in Japanese-occupied Korea and moving to Japan. It explores the family's struggles and triumphs against the backdrop of cultural and social discrimination. The game of Pachinko, a popular Japanese arcade game, serves as a metaphor for the randomness and challenges of life that the characters face, particularly in the context of their immigrant status and the enduring quest for identity, acceptance, and success in a foreign land. Through the family's experiences, the narrative delves into themes of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty, painting a vivid portrait of an often invisible segment of Japanese society.

  2. 2. Land by Kyŏng-ni Pak

    "Land" is a historical saga that spans several generations of a Korean family from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. The narrative focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Choi family, who are part of the landed gentry, and their servants. The book presents a vivid picture of the socio-political upheavals during this period in Korean history, including the Japanese occupation, and explores themes of love, sacrifice, and survival. It is a profound exploration of human resilience and the struggle for social justice.

  3. 3. The Plotters by Un-su Kim

    "The Plotters" is a gripping novel set in a dystopian world where assassins are hired to eliminate targets chosen by a secret organization. Reseng, a highly skilled and detached killer, finds himself caught in a web of conspiracy and betrayal when his latest target turns out to be someone he knows. As he delves deeper into the mysterious workings of the organization, Reseng must confront his own past and question the morality of his profession. With its dark humor and unpredictable twists, this book explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the consequences of one's actions.

  4. 4. Wave by Suzy Lee

    "Wave" is a wordless picture book that follows the playful and imaginative journey of a young girl at the beach. Through beautifully illustrated pages, readers witness the girl's interactions with a wave, as she runs away from it, dances with it, and ultimately befriends it. The book captures the joy and wonder of childhood, highlighting the power of imagination and the beauty of nature.

  5. 5. Solo Leveling 02 by Dubu, CHUGONG

    "Solo Leveling 02" continues the thrilling saga of a weak hunter in a world where humans with special abilities fight monstrous creatures emerging from gates. After a near-death experience in a particularly dangerous dungeon, the protagonist discovers he has become a "solo player," gaining the unique ability to level up on his own, a power unseen in the hunter community. With his newfound strength, he embarks on a journey of self-improvement and faces increasingly perilous dungeons, all while uncovering the mysteries behind his abilities and the gates. This installment follows his challenges and growth as he aims to become one of the world's most formidable hunters.

  6. 6. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

    In a futuristic world, the empire relies on a rigid calendar system known as "The Hexarchate" to maintain control and suppress any dissent. When a rogue general stages a rebellion, a talented captain named Kel Cheris is chosen to quell the uprising. To achieve this, she must form an uneasy alliance with an undead tactician, Jedao, whose brilliance in warfare is matched only by his notorious treachery. As they navigate a treacherous battlefield filled with deceit, Kel must learn to trust Jedao's cunning strategies, even as she questions his true motives. With the fate of the empire hanging in the balance, Kel and Jedao embark on a high-stakes mission that will test their loyalties and reshape the very fabric of their world.

  7. 7. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

    "Dragon Pearl" is a science fiction novel that follows the story of Min, a young fox spirit who dreams of leaving her impoverished planet and joining the Space Forces like her older brother Jun. When Jun is accused of deserting his post to search for the mythical Dragon Pearl, Min sets out to clear his name and find the pearl herself. Along the way, she discovers secrets about her family and the universe that threaten to unravel everything she knows. With the help of new friends and her shape-shifting abilities, Min embarks on a thrilling adventure filled with danger and discovery.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download