Review – Please Look After Mother by Kyung-sook Shin

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Today I have a guest blogger on All That Magic and it’s my mom 😀 She usually blogs on Leise Sohlen, so if you speak German, you might as well have a look at her blog.

Kyung-sook Shin Please Look After Mother

My daughter gave me this precious book for my birthday. I am very thankful for it.

Please Look After Mom
Image provided by Orion¹

An elderly couple are on their way from the countryside to visit their children in Seoul. So-nyo, 69-years old, isn’t quick enough to jump into a metro wagon – only her husband makes it inside. From this moment of separation, So-nyo is missing.

The whole family starts a search that lasts for months. With every modern tool they try to find their mother. During this time, every family member becomes part of the novel. So-nyo’s daughters, her very beloved son, her husband and auntie think about So-nyo, her live, her habits, and her love in first-person narrative. Also missing So-nyo gets a voice – she looks back at her life and you get a glimpse into her situation as a missing person.

The novel is set in contemporary Korea. Kyung-sook Shin, an Asian literary prize winner, manages to achieve insight into poor Korea, the countryside, and the hardworking people who try to find a better way of life for their children.

When teenage So-nyo and her husband got married, he was a stranger to her. Living in a very poor situation, she gave birth to her children at home, she was a very diligent person, who could build something out of nothing. She saw to it that all her children could attend school, university, and leave home to live in the world, which was very strange for their mother. So-nyo never had support from her husband, she was an invisible person, even to her family, up until the day she went missing.

Although the story is set in a different cultural context than ours, the relationship between a child and their mother is basically the same around the world. During So-nyo’s absence, long-kept secrets and private sorrows begin to surface, the family gets a chance to reunite and tighten their bonds and finally they realize that So-nyo is more than just a mother – that she’s a person.

This novel is very touching, because even though our own history with our mom is different, the feelings of a child towards their mom will always be the same. Reading Please Look After Mother will make you reflect on your own relationship with your mother.

¹ https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780753828182

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