10 Must Read Korean Books 2022

Here are my 10 must-read Korean Books before traveling to South Korea. I narrowed my selection down to award winners, bestsellers, and of course the time and trusted Good Read review.

Some of my favorites include Human Acts, Nothing to Envy, and Pachinko.

Human Acts is a must-read for anyone interested in South Korea. It explains a time, not too long ago when innocent victims were crushed by the Korean government during the Gwangju uprising. What should have been a peaceful protest ended up being one of Korea’s deadliest.

Another book on the list, although not a novel, but a work of nonfiction is by Barbara Demrick. Nothing to Envy is a fascinating, yet deeply moving insight into the ordinary lives in North Korea under the brutal dictatorship that has spanned three generations.

So power your Kindle up. Sit tight. And if you’re ready, let’s jump in!


1. The Vegetarian, By Han Kang

Goodreads review: 3.60


2. A River In Darkness, One Man’s Escape From North Korea, By Masail Ishikawa

Good Reads Review: 4.25



3. Crying In H Mart By, Michelle Zauner

Good Read Review 4.33


4. Cursed Bunny By, Bora Chung

Good Read Review: 4.10


5. Human Acts By, Han Kang

Good Read Review score 4.21


6. Escape From Camp 14 By, Blaine Harden

Good Read Review 3.98


7. Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives In North Korea By, Barbra Demick

Good Read Review 4.43


8. Pachinko By, Min Jin Lee

Good Read Review 4.30


9. The Island Of Sea Women By, Lisa See

Good Read Review 4.28


10. Kim Jiyoung Born 1982, By Cho Nam-Joo

Translated by Jamie Chang

Good Read Review 4.2


Before traveling to Korea I made sure I purchased a Kindle. Although there are English books which you can find in stores like Kybo, the books can sometimes be overpriced. And there’s also a problem of not being able to find the book you want.

Therefore, I would recommend buying a Kindle before coming over. My preference is the Kindle paperwhite. But any Kindle does the job, as you have access to the thousands of books on the Amazon Kindle store.

Amazon has recently released the new generation of Kindle paperwhites. I managed to snag one over here.

How is it you ask? Well, I can say it’s my favorite Kindle so far! The 6.8-inch display and the adjustable warm light makes a huge difference to your reading experience.

Where to buy a kindle in Korea?

I purchased my Kindle on Coupang. You can also buy Kindles on G-market.

Final word

Thanks for reading my 10 best Korean books to read before coming to Korea. If you can think of any more that we should add to the list please write in the comment section below.

For more post like these please check out our culture section on our site.

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