One Left: A Novel


This is a very special book for many reason. Not only because it’s a first novel by Kim Soom to be translated into English, but mostly because of the topic. One left is a story written from a perspective of a woman over 90, who as a 13-year old child was kidnapped and forced into sexual labour for the Japanese troops stationing in Manchuria. Kim’s book is also one of the very first work of fiction around the issue of the so-called “comfort women” and has caused quite a stir. And rightfully so.

The main protagonist has never told anyone about what she had been through. Her family thought she was strange, it was just easier not to ask about the years when she had been gone. God forbid if what they had all feared turned out to be true.

It is a TV show about a “last” comfort woman that inspires the protagonist to reminiscence about her life, especially about the years in Manchuria that have shaped her, scarred her. And it makes her wonder – isn’t she perhaps the last one? And what if there are more women like her still alive?

It is not only the story itself, but also how Kim Soom did it that makes the book interesting – she weaves the story of a fictional character from real testimonies of victims. Descriptions of the “comfort” station, particular situations, what people said – most of it comes from real stories told by real women, whose voices reverberate throughout the pages. Thus this is not only a testimony of one woman, it is a way for us to hear voices of dozens, hundreds of comfort women – to give them space that they deserve, but also to show that there are indeed so many of them.

The book features an important introduction by Bonnie Oh and an afterword written by the translators, Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton. It seems that they were looking for a publisher for a really long time, and I am so, so glad that they managed to find one brave enough to publish Kim Soom’s book.

Trigger warning: sexual violence.

"Back when she was P’unggil, she was just another young teen. As a child she believed the most frightening things were natural disasters that involved darkness, drought, or flooding. But after she turned 13 she learned the most frightening things are human beings."

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Original title

한 명






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The lowest price ( 2023-09-22 ): 98,00  Categories: , Tags: ,
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