Human Acts – A Haunting Narrative about the Gwangju Massacre

manactsHan Kang’s Human Acts’ is a complex tragedy. Set in the 1980s in South Korea you will read about life under a dictatorial rule. There are many voices in this story, multiple narratives. I think it’s interesting to get someone else’s perspective on the same event or occurrence.

Dong-ho is only 15 years old. He is one of many massacred, brutally killed by their own country’s army. You will read about Dong-ho’s friend, his grieving mother, a worker, a female editor and prisoner. This is a dark toned book with much hopelessness. I’m really making you want to read this, huh?

The everyday freedoms I may enjoy in my country would be a veritable luxury to these people in S. Korea. Yes, it’s fictionalized but it’s a good snapshot of life in the 80s in Korea. Freedom of speech – forget it? Hopelessness, fear and suppression – absolutely.

Well written dialogue and descriptions. I knew nothing about the Gwangju massacre but now I know more than I want to. It’s hard to shake some mental images.

The author explains how she came to be interested in this part of history. Again, excellent writing but I think I will read a happier toned book next.


  • I received this book from the Blogging for Books program.  All opinions are my own, I was not compensated for this review.

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