Chick Lit? “Style” by Baek Young Ok

Someone Needs a Sammich!

A very short review of “Style” a chick-lit book that is of interest because chick-lit in Korea is a direct outgrowth of the introduction of chick-lit from the west. In the 1990’s Korea a series of books from the west, including “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” and “Bridget Jones Diary” were translated into Korean and were immediate commercial successes. This commercial success of translated literature, paved the way for video to follow, including the introduction of “Sex and the City” to Korean television in 1999.

More critically, this introduction substantially altered Korean publishing, introducing a homegrown, but culturally western, Korean “Chick Lit,” including books such as 달콤한 나의 도시(My sweet city), 티켓밀라노(Ticket Millano) and 걸프렌즈(Girl friends). As in the case with the translated texts,, video soon followed, including 올드미스 다이어리(Old Miss Diary) and 달자의 봄(Spring of Dalja) and 히트(Hit). The impact of translation and translation mediation is clearly asymmetrical. In effect, although there is translator’s mediation present when any work is translated, the chick lit example demonstrates that the larger mediation is a result of the dominance of the larger culture (sadly, of course, the inverse is also true – not matter how good Korean Literature might be, it does not have the “crowbar power” that English literature has merely by virtue of being in English).

Grand Narrative

I should mention that the two paragraphs above are part of an abstract I worked on with my colleague Hee-Jung. Just so happens I came across the review of Style at about the same time.

It is also worth noting that the cover picture, whether Photoshopped or not, uses a model who is painfully thin, nearly to the point of deformation. This kind of thing is handled with casual aplomb over at The Grand Narrative.

In any case, as happened with literature and  video when the western chick-lit came in, Style is now  (has been?) being made into a movie and other chick-lit movies are scheduled to follow.

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  1. Pingback: Korean Gender Reader: 29 March 2010 « The Grand Narrative

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