Young-Ha Kim's Monster.
'Novels and poems allow us to stand in other’s position and see ourselves through their eyes.'
Young-Ha Kim provides some more good quotes in his book Your Republic is Calling You. I particularly like 'Life is a continuous cycle of once terrifying things becoming normal.'
His novel is a good one for learning about the mores of modern Korea: the ritual drinking, bowing, and general politeness of society are subtly evoked, as are some of the differences between North and South. My favourite parts were the slightly weird, unexpected things that were lightly commented upon: for example the friend that turned out to be imaginary, and the quiet studious girl who suddenly flashes at her boyfriend on-line (an image which is then sent around the entire school for all to appreciate). In the middle of the novel there are tracts that tell a lot about the philosophy of the place, and the end becomes an exciting spy story in a traditional sense. At the end there is a lot to muse over.
I now going to read a few more of Young-Ha Kim's short stories, which are also on-line on the Authortrek page, then I think I shall move on from Korea to some place else.