Kim Young-ha

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Kim Young-ha
Born (1968-11-11) November 11, 1968 (age 50)
Hwacheon, South Korea
Alma materYonsei University
Notable worksI Have the Right to Destroy Myself
Notable awardsYi Sang Literary Award, Dong-in Literary Award
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Yeong-ha
McCune–ReischauerKim Yŏngha

Kim Young-ha is a modern South Korean writer.[1]


Kim was born in Hwacheon on November 11, 1968. He moved from place to place as a child, since his father was in the military. As a child, he suffered from gas poisoning from coal gas and lost memory before ten.[2] He was educated at Yonsei University in Seoul, earning undergraduate as well as graduate degrees in Business Administration from Yonsei University, but he didn't show much interest in it. Instead he focused on writing stories. Kim, after graduating from Yonsei University in 1993, began his military service as an assistant detective at the military police 51st Infantry Division near Suwon. His career as a professional writer started in 1995 right after discharge when his short-story A Meditation On Mirror (Geoure daehan myeongsang) appeared in Review, and the following year, won the 1st New Writer’s Award given by Munhak Dongne with the novel, I Have a Right to Destroy Myself (Naneun nareul pagoehal gwolliga itda).[1]

Kim previously worked as a professor in the Drama School at Korean National University of Arts and on a regular basis hosted a book-themed radio program. In autumn 2008, he resigned all his jobs to devote himself exclusively to writing. Kim also translates English novels, most recently a Korean adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University from September 2010 to June 2011.[3][4]


His first novel, published in Korean in 1996, was I Have the Right to Destroy Myself. It has been translated into English, French, German, Czech, Dutch, Polish, Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Mongolian. His historical novel Black Flower, which won the Dong-in Literary Award in 2004, tells the story of Korean migrant workers in Mexico later involved in a Pancho Villa-led military uprising. Sources of inspiration for this novel came from classical Bildungsroman, stories of sea trips as illustrated by the popular film Titanic, ethnography of religion, as well as Korean histories of exile and immigration. Another instance of Kim’s mixed style is found in Your Republic Is Calling You, his fourth novel, in which he raises the question of human identity in a democratic and consumerist Korean society by presenting a North Korean spy and his family in Seoul in the manner of a crime fiction combined with a truncated family saga and naturalist depiction of everyday life. It has been translated seven languages including English (US title: Your Republic Is Calling You).[5]

Kim Young-ha is often judged as a writer skilled in rendering 1990’s urban sensibilities.[1] Featuring a professional suicide assistant as a protagonist, I Have a Right to Destroy Myself pioneers a new realm in the genre of fantasy literature; stories contained in Summoning and What Happened to the Man Caught in the Elevator Door? tackle computer games, plastic art, cult movies, hostage situations, homosexuality, and other subject matters not commonly explored in Korean literature, which are becoming a part of modern reality. Kim’s stories utilize unfamiliar or even strange settings to explore the by-product of modern capitalism and urban culture, such as alienation and inability to communicate, extreme narcissism and its limitations. His second novel, Why Did Arang, centers on the legend of Arang. Murdered by her nanny, Arang becomes a ghost haunting all Miryang deputies in an attempt to expose her killer. The terrified deputies, however, die of fear as soon as they see the ghost, and Arang remains a woeful spirit until a deputy brave enough to stand the sight of her is assigned to Miryang region and finally avenges her. The ancient legend of Arang unfolds simultaneously with the story of two present day characters, hairdresser Yeongju and writer Park; and the narrator takes up the dual role of a storyteller recounting the legend of Arang as well as a detective providing hints and evidence necessary for solving the mysteries presented in the novel. Employing the devices of a detective novel, and at the same time parodying an ancient legend, Why Did Arang reveals that the author’s interest in the art of fiction extends beyond mere plot or characterization to the function of narrator and the very definition of storytelling.

Two films have already been based on his fiction: My Right to Ravage Myself (2003)[6] and The Scarlet Letter,[7] and the cinematic adaptation of Your Republic Is Calling You is currently[when?] in progress. in 2014, his novel, Brother Has Returned was used as the basis of the movie Total Messed Family.[8] His novel, The Quiz Show, was also made into a musical.[9] In addition, Kim's work is popular with fans online who have made videos[10] and animations[11] of his work. In 2017, A Murderer's Guide to Memorization was also adapted into the film Memoir of a Murderer.[12]

Kim, along with John H. Lee, won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2005 Grand Bell Awards for the script of A Moment to Remember.[13]

Works (Partial)[edit]

  • I Have the Right to Destroy Myself (Na-neun na-reul pagoehal gwolli-ga issda 1996)
  • The Pager (Hochul 1997)
  • The Vampire (Heup-hyul-gwi 1998)
  • Whatever Happened to the Guy Stuck in the Elevator? (Ellibeiteo-e kkin geu namja-neun eotteoke doe-eossna 1999)
  • Why, Arang (Arang-eun wae 2001),
  • Black Flower (Geomeun kkot 2003)
  • Brother has Returned (Oppa-ga dolawassda 2004)
  • Your Republic Is Calling You (Bit-e jeguk 2006)
  • Quiz Show (Kwijeusyo 2007)
  • Nobody {Blank} What Happened (2010)
  • I Hear Your Voice (Neo-ui moksori-ga deullyeo 2012)
  • A Murderer's Guide to Memorization (Salinja-ui gieokbeop 2013)
  • Only two person(2017)

Works in Translation[edit]


  • Quiz Show (2007)
  • Your Republic Is Calling You (2006), winner in 2007 of the Manhae Literary Award
  • Black Flower (2003), winner in 2004 of the Dong-in Literary Award
  • Brother has Returned, (collection of short stories) winner in 2004 of the Yi Sang Literary Award.
  • Photo Shop Murder (English translation 2003)
  • I Have the Right to Destroy Myself (1996; English translation, 2007)

Other languages[edit]

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself (나는 나를 파괴할 권리가 있다)

  • Tengo Derecho a destruirme (Spanish)
  • Kendimi yıkmaya hakkım var (Turkish)
  • Ik heb het recht mezelf te vernietigen (Dutch)
  • Mám právo se zničit (Czech)

Whatever Happened to the Guy Stuck in the Elevator?(엘리베이터에 낀 그 남자는 어떻게 되었나?)

  • Kas gi nutiko lifte ?strigusiam vyri?kiui (Lithuanian)
  • Hur gick det for mannen som satt fast i hissen? (Swedish)
  • Wampir i inne opowiadania (Polish)

Your Republic Is Calling You (빛의 제국)

  • L'empire des lumieres (French)
  • 光之帝? (Chinese)
  • Říše světla (Czech)
  • Schwarze Blume [검은 꽃] (German)

Quiz Show (퀴즈쇼)

  • Chơi Quiz Show (Vietnamese)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Author Database: Kim Youngha". LTI Korea. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  2. ^ "Kim Young-ha". Authortrek. Archived from the original on 2006-06-30.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Standaert, Michael (25 July 2007). "Korean Author Speaks at US Writing Program". Seoul Times.
  5. ^ "Kim Young-ha". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01.
  6. ^ "Review: 'My Right to Ravage Myself'". Variety. 2003-10-22. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  7. ^ "끝없는 욕망의 원죄, <주홍글씨>" (in Korean). Cine21. 2004-10-26. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  8. ^ "2014.3.21 Now Playing". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  9. ^ "About". Archived from the original on 2016-04-04.
  10. ^ Montgomery, Charles (30 June 2013). "300 Second Sunday: Video introduction to Kim Young-ha". ktlit. Retrieved Mar 25, 2016.
  11. ^ "Whatever happened to the guy stuck in the elevator?". Youtube. Tappy Toon. Retrieved Jun 28, 2015.
  12. ^ "'Memoir of a Murderer' director: Seol Hyun acts much better than expected". Yonhap News. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  13. ^ "A Moment to Remember - Awards". Cinemasie. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  14. ^ "하정우,유연석 어떤 부문에서 최고의 남자?" (in Korean). 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2016-09-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture (2007), vol. 1 has three translated short stories by Kim as well as an interview with him.
  • Lee, Kwang Ho (2007) "Cultural Hybridity in Contemporary Korean Literature," Korean Journal Spring 2007: 28-49; see pp. 35?36.
  • Lee, Hye Ryoung (2007) "The Transnational Imagination and Historical Geography of 21st Century Korean literature," Korean Journal Spring 2007: 50-78; see pp. 50?51, 58-60 and 63-69.

External links[edit]