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Your Republic Is Calling You (2006)

by Young-ha Kim

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20416100,426 (3.64)36
Foreign film importer Gi-yeong is a family man with a wife and daughter. He is also a North Korean spy who has been living among his enemies for 21 years. Suddenly he receives a mysterious e-mail directing him to return to headquarters in one day. Has someone in the South discovered his secret identity? Is this a trap?… (more)
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» See also 36 mentions

English (14)  French (2)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Really great book. ( )
  Nicole_girl | Mar 8, 2021 |
Another brilliant, powerful novel by Young-ha Kim. A mix of political thriller and personal drama that just wins on all fronts. Some of Ma-ri's scenes had me wincing from the bluntness of them (and her final confrontation with Ki-Yong still has me reeling a bit) but overall it's a stellar volume. Hopefully, Kim's novel will succeed enough to prove that his other works should also be translated into English. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
He will have to go from an existence surrounded by books to one made up of walls. p. 56

The plot is interesting: a North Korean spy who has been living as a South Korean for 15 years without hearing from his handlers, is finally contacted to return to North Korea. By this time he has married and had a daughter. So now what? Take them? Leave them? They are unaware of his secret existence, which was easy to hide as he had no assignments the whole time. Or should he even respond? Is he a dead man if he does? What about if he doesn't? It is intriguing reading about what it is like to live outside of your own identity for so many years, having not just to learn a language or accent, but a different way of thinking and responding to EVERYTHING. As these things are addressed, so are the personal lives of his wife and daughter. These three people live very separate lives. And so we have the story of this dysfunctional family, which is not so unlike other families in many ways, as well as the spy story. This is not a thriller spy book, but rather the story of the characters. I'm giving it 3 1/2 stars, and will follow the author (this is his first book). ( )
  mkboylan | Feb 6, 2014 |
The story was entertaining but it really didn't do much for me. It's not something I think I will ever read again or even think about too much in the future...

No real suspense or action...just a linear line from start to finish.

The story is about a man from North Korea who is trained and sent to South Korea as a spy. The man’s “handler” gets “purged” and he spends 20+ years living in South Korea with a spy mission. Then…one day…he receives the “return home” order and his life is torn apart (in a very non-dramatic and somewhat slow/uneventful way). ( )
  Disco_grinch | Oct 8, 2013 |
Gi-yeong is a typical South Korean family man or so even his wife believes. He’s almost come to believe it himself until one day he gets a mysterious e-mail, recalling him to the home office and his duties as a North Korean spy. The book covers the 24 hours Gi-yeong has been given to report in. As he debates what to do and what to tell his family, he learns that his wife has some secrets of her own.

Like all of the translated fiction I’ve read so far, the writing style of Your Republic is Calling You was unlike any other book I’ve read. In some ways, it did remind me Murakami’s 1Q84. The sparse prose and the surreal feel of the events transpiring was very similar. Both books also have in common their inclusion of characters’ dreams, hopes, fears, sex lives, and most secret thoughts. This can be uncomfortable and would earn these books an R rating, but they’re also an amazing device for making characters seem like real people you know very well.

Despite these similarities, the content and tone of the book differentiated it completely from 1Q84. Murakami writes about mysterious hopes and desires, while Kim Young-ha writes about mysterious fear and dread. The magical realism of Murakami makes you see the magic in the most mundane of events, while Kim Young-ha’s thriller makes you see the mundane details influencing even the most extraordinary events. This book made me feel extremely uncomfortable throughout and is much darker than most books I enjoy. Other than the ending though, I really liked it anyway. The writing was beautiful and I loved the raw reality of the author’s descriptions. Sadly, the ending wasn’t even dark or tragic, it was just unresolved. That took a lot of the emotional punch out of the book and left me feeling as though the author just got tired of writing. However, even with the slightly disappointing ending, I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes Murakami or dark, psychological thrillers.

This review first published on Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Aug 31, 2013 |
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Foreign film importer Gi-yeong is a family man with a wife and daughter. He is also a North Korean spy who has been living among his enemies for 21 years. Suddenly he receives a mysterious e-mail directing him to return to headquarters in one day. Has someone in the South discovered his secret identity? Is this a trap?

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