May - 2020 - The Court Dancer - Kyung-Sook Shin

The Court Dancer by Kyung-Sook Shin

Book Group 1 – May 2020


The Court Dancer (translated by Anton Hur, published by Pegasus Books) is the story of Yi Jin, an orphaned young girl taken in by a kindly neighbor, who became the most accomplished performer in all the Joseon Dynasty royal court. She is favored by the queen, a powerful woman in her own right, and falls under the eye of a visiting French diplomat. The diplomat falls in love with her and they sail to France together, where she discovers the liberties of Paris and the racism of nineteenth-century Europe, but marriage fails to materialize. 


Struggling with her own identity, Yi Jin returns to Korea, determined to change her country for the better, but the story ends with tragedy.  Kyung-Sook Shin is one of South Korea’s most widely read and acclaimed novelists.


We discussed the book throughout the glimpse of Korean history at the end of 1800's as well as orientalism, feminism, love and motherhood via Zoom


Jay Lee