Kim Un-su

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Kim Un-su (Hangul 김언수; born 1972) is a South Korean writer. He studied Korean literature at Kyung Hee University, where he also completed master’s level coursework. He made his literary debut when his short stories “Cham shipgye baeuneun geuljitgigyosil” (참 쉽게 배우는 글짓기교실 Easy Writing Lessons) and “Danbaljang seuteuriteu” (단발장 스트리트 Danbaljang Street) won the Jinju News Writing Contest in fall 2002 and “Peuraidaewa gyeolbyeolhada” (프라이데이와 결별하다 Breaking up with Friday) won the Dong-a Ilbo New Writer's Contest in 2003. His novel Kaebinit (캐비닛 The Cabinet) won the 12th Munhakdongne Novel Award in 2006[1] and Tteugeoun Pi (뜨거운 피 Hot Blood) won the 22nd Hahn Moo-Sook Literary Prize in 2017.[2] Seolgyejadeul (설계자들 The Plotters) was shortlisted for Grand Prix de Literature Policière.[3]


Kim Un-su was born and raised in the South Korean port city of Busan, where his family has lived for generations. He explored the streets of Busan as a child, walked them with his first girlfriend whom he met at the age of 17, and aimlessly wandered them when he failed his college entrance exam. But he confesses growing tired of his hometown after spending so many years there. He only came to appreciate it again when he revisited his memories of Busan and his seaside home while writing the novel Tteugeoun Pi (뜨거운 피 Hot Blood).[4]


Kim Un-su’s characters are often lonely. Loneliness, according to Kim, is the essence of human nature and stems from people’s misunderstanding that they are the only ones hurt. He believes that “art communicates and shakes hands” to assuage this loneliness.[5]

Based on that belief, Kim creates surreal stories involving dramatic and exaggerated characters. His novel Kaebinit (캐비닛 The Cabinet) is about people who, distrusting the ever-changing world around them, deny their past and erase their memories to create new ones.[6] Seolgyejadeul (설계자들 The Plotters) is a novel based on the premise that there were professional “plotters” behind every history-changing murder.[7] The novel is set to be made into a motion picture directed by Hur Jin-ho.[8] Tteugeoun Pi (뜨거운 피 Hot Blood), which contains many autobiographical elements, follows the lives of thugs, loan sharks, prostitutes, and other shady characters who live by the Busan seaside.[9]


1. 뜨거운 피(2016)

Hot Blood (2016)

2. 잽(2013)

Jab (2013)

3. 설계자들(2010)

The Plotters (2010)

4. 캐비닛(2006)

The Cabinet (2006)

Works in Translation[10] (partial)[edit]

1. Les planificateurs (French)

2. AZALEA (Journal of Korean Literature & Culture) : Volume Four (English)


1. 2017: Hahn Moo-Sook Literary Prize

2. 2006: Munhakdongne Novel Award


  1. ^ "김언수" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  2. ^ "제22회 한무숙 문학상, 소설가 김언수씨 수상". 아시아경제 (in Korean). 2017-02-01. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  3. ^ "문학동네에 오신것을 환영합니다". Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  4. ^ 김언수 "나쁘고 싶어서 나쁜 놈은 세상에 하나도 없다" | YES24 문화웹진 채널예스.
  5. ^ 김언수 "나쁘고 싶어서 나쁜 놈은 세상에 하나도 없다" | YES24 문화웹진 채널예스.
  6. ^ "문학동네에 오신것을 환영합니다". Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  7. ^ "김언수" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  8. ^ "허진호 감독, '설계자들' 영화화 메가폰 잡는다- 스타뉴스". 스타뉴스 (in Korean). 2017-05-09. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  9. ^ 김언수 "나쁘고 싶어서 나쁜 놈은 세상에 하나도 없다" | YES24 문화웹진 채널예스.
  10. ^ "Search | Digital Library of Korean Literature (LTI Korea)". Retrieved 2017-12-09.