23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Kyung-sook Shin
© Hartwig Klappert

Kyung-sook Shin

Kyung-sook Shin was born in a village near Jeongeup in South Korea in 1963. Since her parents did not have the money to send her to high school, she moved to Seoul when she was 16, in order to attend school there. She studied Creative Writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts and won the Munye Joongang New Author Prize with her first novel »Winter’s Fable« (1985). Shin has also published short stories and non-fiction, and became one of the best known and most successful writers of her country. Her style is profound and expressive and her stories are particularly intense. In 2011, she was the first woman ever to receive the Man Asian Literary Prize.

Her second novel »A Lone Room« (1995) deals with her own experiences as a young girl who had to leave her home and work in a factory in order to pay for her evening classes. In the book, Kyung-sook Shin also describes the socio-political situation in South Korea in the 1970s, which was characterized by exploitation and oppression. The French translation of her novel gained the Prix de l’Inaperçu for extraordinary literary works in 2009. Her novel »Somewhere A Phone is Ringing for Me« (2010) focuses on the importance of love and friendship. Four friends in Korea, once young, grew up in times of political unrest in a divided country. They remember the easy days of their youth as well as the problems and the suffering they had to cope with in the past. Now adults, they want to re-discover meaning in their lives. In her book, Shin shows that even in moments of pain there is love, which helps overcome difficult times and create something immortal. Her novel »Please Look After Mom« was published in English in 2011 and became an international bestseller. A couple wants to visit their children in the city. Suddenly, the mother gets lost in a subway station. Her husband and children try everything in order to find her. Fluctuating between fear and hope they begin to realize, what the woman they have only considered a mother and wife really means to them. They look for her for weeks. In the process the family-members begin to move closer, and the children recognize the importance of the family traditions they had neglected for the benefit of their stressful urban life. Shin’s book is a moving story about being a mother and, at the same time, a portrait of families living between tradition and modernity in South Korea. »Please Look After Mom« is also a declaration of love to her own mother.

Kyung-sook Shin lives in Seoul and is a visiting lecturer at the Columbia University in New York.


La Chambre Solitaire
Philippe Picquier
Paris, 2008

Li Chin
Philippe Picquier
Paris, 2010

Als Mutter verschwand
München, 2012
[Ü: Cornelia Holfelder von der Tann]