안녕하세요? (Annyeonghaseyo?) is the common greeting in Korea. It’s how Koreans say hello and literally translates as “Are [you] well/peaceful?” You may or may not be, especially if you’ve just finished an emotional Korean drama story. One of South Korea’s biggest cultural exports aside from K-Pop and Kimchi is drama! If you enjoyed the latest Oscar award-winning movie “Parasite” (기생충) directed by Bong Joon-Ho then you’re sure to enjoy any one of these heart-wrenching stories in the library’s collection by Korean authors and directors. Salina Public Library also has Korean cookbooks to add flavor to any story you choose to indulge in. 

South Korean Authors

“The Vegetarian” (2016) by Han, Kang

“Deciding to go vegetarian in the wake of violent thoughts, Yeong-hye, a woman from an Asian culture of strict societal mores, is denounced as a subversive as she spirals into extreme rebelliousness that causes her to splinter from her true nature and risk her life.” ~NoveList Plus

“Human Acts” (2017) by Han, Kang

Follows the aftermath of a young boy’s shocking death during a violent student uprising as told from the perspectives of the event’s victims and their loved ones.” ~NoveList Plus

“Pachinko” (2017) by Lee, Min Jin

“In early 1900s Korea, prized daughter Sunja finds herself pregnant and alone, bringing shame on her family until a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and move with her to Japan, in the saga of one family bound together as their faith and identity are called into question.” ~NoveList Plus

“The Good Son” (2018) by Chong, Yu-Jong

“Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself? Early one morning, 26-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home — he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life? Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family.” ~NoveList Plus

“Almost American Girl” (2020) by Ha, Robin

“A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging and how arts can save a life.” ~NovelList Plus

“The Plotters” (2019) by Kim, On-su

“In an alternate-reality Seoul, South Korea, where assassination guilds compete for dominance, Reseng uncovers a scheme set into motion by a trio of young women, forcing him to decide if he will remain a pawn of the plotters who control the city’s criminals.” ~NovelList Plus

“Please Look After Mom” (2011) by Sin, Kyong-suk

A stunning, deeply moving story of a family’s search for their missing mother, and their discovery of the desires, heartaches and secrets they never realized she harbored within.” ~NovelList Plus

South Korean Drama in the Movies

Library Power User Tip: Don’t give up on your first try searching for Korean language materials in English. Try using various search words for Korean foreign language materials; titles, subjects, authors, directors, musicians, places, etc. International movies often have multiple titles including the original language title and sometimes different titles in other release languages. For example from this list, “Sea Fog” is the English title for the movie “Haemoo.”

When Hangul (the Korean written language) is romanized into English, there can be variations in the use of hyphens, accent marks and vowel combinations. There are also several letters in Korean that are often used interchangeably in English such as; Ch and J, B and P, G and K. For example, you may see the popular Korean director 봉 준호 written as either Pong Chun-ho or Bong, Joon Ho (“Parasite,” 2019; “Okja,” 2017; “Snowpercier,” 2013; and “The Host,” 2006. There are Romanization standards, but Korean to English spellings can still be inconsistent.

“Parasite” (2019) directed by Bong, Joon-ho

“Kim Ki-teak’s family are all unemployed and living in a squalid basement. When his son gets a tutoring job at the lavish home of the Park family, the Kim family’s luck changes. One by one they gradually infiltrate the wealthy Park’s home, attempting to take over their affluent lifestyle.” ~Syndetics

“The Host” (2006) directed by Bong Joon Ho

“A monster emerges from Seoul’s Han River and begins attacking people. One victim’s loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.” ~IMDB


“Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring” (2013) directed by Ki-duk Kim

“Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s Buddhism-inspired fable takes place on a placid lake nestled among hills on which floats a small, one-room monastery housing two monks, one old and one young. The action takes place over the course of several years and is divided into five sections denoted by the seasons of the title. While each section tells a story of its own, the overall plot follows the education of the younger monk, a small boy in the beginning, as he learns lessons over the course of his life from his aging counterpart. Troubled outsiders also visit the monastery seeking guidance, including an ill young woman and a man who murdered his wife. As the title suggests, the film’s ultimate theme is cyclical renewal. Just as the seasons pass through phases of birth and death and rebirth, so do the lives of Kim’s characters.” ~ Tom Vick, Rovi

택시운전사A Taxi Driver” (2017) directed by Hun Jang

“A widowed father and taxi driver who drives a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the 1980 uprising, soon finds himself regretting his decision after being caught in the violence around him.” ~IMDB

버닝 “Burning” (2018) directed by Chang-dong Lee

“Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood, who asks him to look after her cat while she’s on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.” ~IMDB

“Brotherhood of War” (2004) directed by Je-kyu Kang

“When two brothers are forced to fight in the Korean War, the elder decides to take the riskiest missions if it will help shield the younger from battle.” ~IMDB

“IRIS” (2009) directed by Kim Kyu-tae and Yang, Yun-ho

Iris (Korean: 아이리스) “A 2009 South Korean espionage television drama series, starring Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-hee, Jung Joon-ho, Kim Seung-woo, Kim So-yeon and T.O.P (Choi Seung-hyun) of Big Bang. The plot revolves around two best friends from the 707th Special Mission Battalion recruited into a secret South Korean black ops agency known as the National Security Service. As the two friends find their loyalties tested and forge new, unlikely alliances, the journey takes them from their home country to Hungary, Japan and China where they find themselves at the center of an international conspiracy.” ~Wikipedia

“Sea Fog” (2014) directed by Sung-bo Shim

“Kang, a long time captain of the Junjin, is disheartened to learn that his ship has been sold by its owner, leaving Kang’s entire crew in danger of losing their livelihood. Swallowing his pride, Kang pays a visit to Yeo, a human trafficking broker, and decides to take on the dangerous job of smuggling illegal migrants into South Korea. When the Junjin arrives at the pickup point, a violent storm forces the boat to stall in the open waters, inevitably pitting Kang’s crew against the migrants.” ~Syndetics

Is it delicious?

A commonly heard mealtime question in South Korea is, “Is it delicious?” Korea has a serious foody culture with regional specialty dishes throughout the country. Koreans are passionate eaters and when Korean tourists go abroad they have been known to travel with kimchi while away from home! When you’re enjoying Korean drama and stories, you will inevitably observe the plethora of tasty Korean food weaving into daily life. Korean cuisine has uniquely evolved through the centuries using rice, noodles, vegetables, meats and tofu. Abundant side dishes (banchan) typically accompany rice, soup and kimchi (fermented spicy vegetable banchan). Cook up some Korean food to put yourself in a Korean mood or simply enjoy reading about this exotic cuisine. Read, watch and eat!

“Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking” (2019) by Maangchi

“Curry & Kimchi: Flavor Secrets for Creating 70 Asian-Inspired Recipes at Home” (2019) by Abkin Unmi

“Kombucha and Kimchi: How Probiotics and Prebiotics Can Improve Brain Function” (2019) by Choi, Soki

“Korean Home Cooking” (2002) by Chung, Soon Young

“The Kimchi Cookbook” (2012) by Chun, Lauryn

“Flavors of Korea: Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine” (1998) by Coultrip-Davis, Deborah