Kim Jiyoung born 1982, by Cho Nam-Jo,

kim jiyoung born 1982 1

presented by Rosie      8 members present, at the Bookshop
This, the third novel by a female South Korean journalist, is an exposé of the endemic misogyny of that country, encapsulated in the fictional life of a young woman who has been utterly crushed and psychologically damaged by the system. The book has established Cho Nam-Jo as an international writer. As well as becoming a best-seller worldwide, this was the first book to sell over a million in South Korea, and brought about change for the better, helping to end the all-pervasive misogyny in that country. Maybe.
The book led us to an animated and heartfelt discussion. Not everybody appreciated the clinical simplicity of the style, while others found it enhanced the story, and it was certainly an easy read in the technical sense, while utterly shocking in its content.
We thought the misogyny might be exaggerated, but apparently not. I refer you to the fictional episode of men having put cameras in the toilets… which it turns out is an endemic problem!!! And  
women themselves reinforce the status quo generationally… once they become mothers-in-law!
Female rivalry can be found in other countries too, where women use a position of influence to hold back other women, e.g.. Mrs Thatcher?
We found the huge contrast between the performance of such a highly developed modern country  
and its extremely backward views doubly shocking. South Korea has been forced to confront the problem by enacting anti-gender discrimination laws, partly by this book and also because more than 60% of women are now refusing to contemplate marriage, and the country has the lowest birthrate in the world, at 0.78. They don’t want a mother-in-law!
However, we’re not there yet…
We talked about many examples of misogynistic treatment from our own ‘western’ cultures, and our own upbringings, as nowhere is immune to this. Despite, or because of, the successful global #MeToo movement, there is now, of course, a backlash! You need to look no further than recent US legislation and social media (eg.Andrew Tate), which is responsible for the deterioration in the attitude of teenage boys towards women. Cho Nam-Jo herself has been vilified and even attacked.
Depressingly, in South Korea after a period of improvement, they have elected a president who has promised to roll back the gender equality laws! And sadly, at the end of the book Jiyoung’s psychologist reveals his own entrenched prejudice when he expresses his determination not to employ a woman.
More power to Cho Nam-Jo, and don’t give up the fight yet, sisters!