Kim Young-Ha was the first Korean author, and thus I Have the Right to Destroy Myself was the first book from Korean literature that I’ve read. When I first realised this, I tried not to worry about what I’ve missed, because there is no end to it. However, what I can say is, I strongly recommend this book. Only a hundred pages, it ends immediately. You will not understand what hit you, and you’ll love it.
This is a tiny book, but it felt like I’ve read a thousand pages. The subject is also quite impressive; we have a suicide counsellor and various people preparing to commit suicide. The character’s desire for divinity and the sub-texts that lead people to questions like “I wonder who my God is?”, make this little book feel huge.
The artworks mentioned in I Have the Right to Destroy Myself are also crucial. Please take a look at them while you’re reading the book right away. It makes a difference. Enjoy!
I Have the Right to Destroy Myself
In the fast-paced, high-urban landscape of Seoul, C and K are brothers who have fallen in love with the same woman – Se-yeon – who tears at both of them as they all try desperately to find real connection in an atomized world. A spectral, nameless narrator haunts the edges of their lives as he tells of his work helping the lost and hurting find escape through suicide. Dreamlike and beautiful, the South Korea brought forth in this novel is cinematic in its urgency and its reflection of contemporary life everywhere – far beyond the boundaries of the Korean peninsula. Recalling the emotional tension of Milan Kundera and the existential anguish of Bret Easton Ellis, “I Have The Right To Destroy Myself” achieves its author’s greatest wish – to show Korean literature as part of an international tradition. Young-ha Kim is a young master, the leading literary voice of his generation.
Kim Young-Ha was born in Hwacheon on November 11, 1968. He moved from place to place as a child, since his father was in the military. As a child, he suffered from gas poisoning from coal gas and lost memory before ten. He was educated at Yonsei University in Seoul, earning undergraduate as well as graduate degrees in Business Administration from Yonsei University, but he didn’t show much interest in it. Instead, he focused on writing stories.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: