Gi Hyeong-do, Korean Poet, Out in the World

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giphototwoShin Kyung-sook’s Please Take Care of Mom, an “Oprah-genre book” and one of Amazon’s ten best fiction books in 2011, was for many American readers their first exposure to Korean literature. The novel’s focal point is the traditional family, heterosexual relationships, fixed gender roles, and conservative middle-class values—a portrait of Koreans as they like to see themselves and to be seen by the outside world. As Korean publishers promote writers who stick to the comfort zones of nationalism, family, and traditional values, and as the Korean government promotes the translation of only the novels that it wants the world to read, GLBT Korean writers are still waiting to be discovered.

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