The Korea Foundation and Kim-Renaud Associate Professor of Korean Literature and Culture Studies, Immanuel Kim, translated Paek Nam-nyong’s North Korean state-sanctioned bestseller into English, available from Columbia University Press on May 5, 2020.
Paek Nam-nyong’s Friend is a tale of marital intrigue, abuse, and divorce in North Korea. A woman in her thirties comes to a courthouse petitioning for a divorce. As the judge who hears her statement begins to investigate the case, the story unfolds into a broader consideration of love and marriage. The novel delves into its protagonists’ past, describing how the couple first fell in love and then how their marriage deteriorated over the years. It chronicles the toll their acrimony takes on their son and their careers alongside the story of the judge’s own marital troubles…. This groundbreaking translation of one of North Korea’s most popular writers offers English-language readers a page-turner full of psychological tension as well as a revealing portrait of a society that is typically seen as closed to the outside world.