The first is from the Complete Review website and it praises the novel somewhat lukewarmly. It receives only a B and the conclusion is:
Your Republic is Calling You is a story of life in the two Koreas, and especially of how they have diverged after 1985, and it’s an often fascinating take on country, society, and one’s role in them. It’s a somewhat odd mix between thriller — there’s considerable tension and suspense as Ki-Yong is being chased, and since he’s undecided about whether to truly go on the run or (possibly equally dangerously) go to the pick-up point from which he’s to be transported back north — and social novel, but overall Kim Young-ha achieves a decent balance.
Perhaps it is the balancing between genres, which I found fascinating – and the kind of social subterfuge and espionage that occur in “daily” life are in every way a match for the larger story (with its surprise end) – that this reviewer isn’t fond of.
The second review is much more laudatory, from the GoodReads site. In fact the reviewer, Meredith, compares it to a Korean Ulysses, and concludes:
Your Republic Is Calling You seems destined for greatness. Young-ha Kim has done for Korea what Ma Jian and Gao Xingjian have done for China: illuminated the good-bad-and-ugly of his country with insight and awareness that an outsider could never achieve.
This is much closer to my own take on the book, and I think it is already fast-tracked for success. It is worth noting, if it means anything, that even before it goes on sale, this book already has an Amazon Bestsellers Rank of 445,439, which is substantially better than I Have the Right to Destroy Myself achieved (#550,688) or, to put it in perspective, that which the critically acclaimed Tongue earned (#750,226). These numbers have been jumping around like crazy in the last few days (I gather that lower numbers on Amazon are more volatile), but this order has been maintained.
Pretty obviously, Republic has already been translated into French, since there are multiple reviews in that language: