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Prague, Czech Republic
Japan
Uluru, Australia
  • Location: South Korea

Violets

Violets

Why a Booktrail?

1970s rural South Korea: a young girl is set on a troubling path of quashed desire and isolation.

  • ISBN: B096LTKNM6
  • Translator: Anton Hur
  • Genre: Translated Fictioin

What you need to know before your trail

We join San in 1970s rural South Korea, a young girl ostracised from her community. She meets a girl called Namae, and they become friends until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of physical intimacy in a minari field, Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path of quashed desire and isolation.

We next meet San, aged twenty-two, as she starts a job in a flower shop. There, we are introduced to a colourful cast of characters, including the shop’s mute owner, the other florist Su-ae, and the customers that include a sexually aggressive businessman and a photographer, who San develops an obsession for. Throughout, San’s moment with Namae lingers in the back of her mind.

Travel Guide

South Korea – from the countryside to Seoul

“This flower shop is an unexpected oasis. It faces the parking lot of Seoul’s Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, acting as a brief respite from the busy noise of surrounding traffic. A conveyor-belt sushi restaurant serving twin pieces of sushi or egg rolls on each plate, a Paris Baguette bakery franchise, a kimbap place barely squeezing in three tables, a stone-bowl rice shop, a 24-hour convenience store, a foreign language cram school, a stationery shop, a store specializing in photo albums, a bookstore kiosk set up between buildings, a new Mediterranean-style pasta place, a café named Spring Summer Autumn Winter— and amidst all these stores is a flower shop of considerable size, looking somewhat out of place, almost cinematic.”

“The streets keep changing as if to erase every trace of her. There’s a new parking lot near Gyeonghuimun, and a new marinated crab restaurant called Mir in the next alley. Café Bonjour has changed its sign, declaring itself a restaurant, and in the Hengeuk Life Insurance building, an art cinema called Cinecube has opened. On its ground floor is a new French restaurant called Russian. The building has a little fountain as well as wooden benches and a small grove of bamboo. Next to the art museum, where the ravenous excavator used to be, ready to destroy all and everything, is a new building. This building, with its countless windows, now blocks the view of the taps where San gathered water in plastic bottles. It is impossible to tell where exactly San planted her white , yellow , purple and pink violets. An embattled-looking conscript on leave is standing at a stationery street vendor, choosing a new notebook. A middle-aged man drops a ₩ 10,000 note into a Salvation Army kettle. From the cinema on the street to Jeong-dong leading to Pauline Books and Changdeok Girls’ Middle School, youths are pouring out under the darkening sky. A young woman who has lost her party is looking around as the lights blink on one by one. San is no longer on these streets.”

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Violets

Destination/Location:  South Korea  Author: Kyung Sook Shin   Departure: 1970s

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