Body and Soul

Political unrest can foster introspection into what humanity is and means. Human Acts by Han Kang depicts the thoughts of those surrounding the death of a young student during the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea.

As the political power structure in South Korea became too unbearable for its citizens to cope with, some rose up and, when attempts were made to suppress the uprising, those who dared to defy suffered horribly for their actions. Following a handful of characters from the instigating events in the 1980s through to the after effects rippling through the three subsequent decades, the brutality that was suffered has become a part of the people, their consciousness, and their actions.

The narrative was rather dark and quite heavy, but what it portrayed is important to be voiced, as this knowledge illuminates the more horrific side of humanity, which can hopefully be learned from so as to not be repeated. I was confused at times who the narrator of each section was as each section was quite specific with the information it covered and the characters it included, but afterward the narrators become clear. When the book is viewed as a whole (as if from a distance), the way that the entire narrative pulls together from these separate pieces to create a larger whole was well done and is quite powerful.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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