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Our Twisted Hero

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  343 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
When the twelve-year-old narrator of Our Twisted Hero moves to a small town and enrolls in the local school, he's confident that his big city sophistication will establish him as a natural leader. He is shocked to find his new classmates and teacher under the spell of the class monitor. As the narrator sets out to overthrow the bully, he is threatened, teased--and finally ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published February 28th 2001 by Hachette Books (first published 1988)
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David Schaafsma
Feb 15, 2013 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-asian
I would not have read this book except that I am judging a national essay contest, with essays by teens based on this novel by a prominent (South) Korean author. I thought the translation (I don't know Korean) clunked in places... meaning that there was some awkwardness in the English that I suspect may have been less awkward in the original... so I don't know for sure, but if the author is acclaimed as they say, mistakes would not have been made like this. I see after having written the first d ...more
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
Simple yet very powerful story of tyranny, rebellion against it and revolution. Also, about what is left when the freedom comes and democracy begins.
Deniz Balcı
Çok güzeldi. Hatta süperdi diyebilirim.

Japon Edebiyatına dair hissettiğim doymak bilmez açlık, yeni eserler çevrilmesini beklerken, diğer Uzakdoğu ülkelerinin edebiyatlarına yöneltti beni. Çok fazla bir şey beklemiyordum bu kısa romandan açıkçası. Ama yanılmışım. Kısacık ve çok sade olan bu anlatı, aslında çok büyük şeylerden, makro sistemlerden bahsediyor. Ne desem boş şimdi, çok beğendim. Kesinlikle okumanızı tavsiye ederim.

Jun 24, 2015 Joni rated it it was amazing
Korea's answer to Animal Farm. A lot better, too. Wow!
Jun 25, 2016 Canan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
Okul sistemi içindeki zorbalığın oluşumu ve devamını anlatan kitabın alt metninde politik sistemlere dair ironiyi de bulabilirsiniz.
Aug 01, 2016 Hannah rated it liked it
Shelves: koreaaaaa
I read this on the recommendation of a student, and later of a colleague who talked about how many students in South Korea read this book as part of their education. It's an brief, unique look from an outsider's perspective at how one boy manages to manipulate an entire elementary school class behind the scenes, getting them to do his bidding, including stealing their things and cheating. The narrator--who comes from Seoul and has a good educational and family background--assumes that he will do ...more
Nov 20, 2014 Emilie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un jeune élève coréen de primaire se voit contraint d'intégrer une nouvelle école lorsque son père, fonctionnaire, est rétrogradé de Séoul en province. Il découvre avec stupéfaction cette nouvelle classe, où tout libre-arbitre des collégiens semble avoir disparu. Ce qu'il connaît de l'organisation démocratique de la vie en groupe vole en éclats devant la domination du chef de classe : jeune garçon dépassant tout le monde d'une tête, Om Sokdae règne sans partage. Il a la confiance aveugle du maît ...more
Rick Pfleeger
Jun 22, 2015 Rick Pfleeger rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's an extremely quick, short read, and is a very interesting allegory of mass-despotism. The characters are very interesting, and it's fun to follow their development in this short novel. However, keeping track of some of the characters' names can be tricky for people who are not Korean.
Feb 20, 2015 Tabs rated it really liked it
This book was interesting. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. In class, we did an interpretive dance project incorporating four different scenes from the book. It was so fun! It was also interesting to notice all the types of oppression in the story. If you like to learn about North Korea, read this book.
Mar 21, 2016 Jean rated it it was ok
Interesting metaphor of the different powers influencing Korea during that time period. It might be because it is translated from Korean, the writing is not particularly good and doesn't flow as well. But the story is pretty interesting since I have been a class monitor myself when I was in middle school, and I can absolutely picture someone abusing his or her power.
Jan 04, 2017 Tammy rated it it was ok
I'm of two minds about this novel. On one hand, it gives an interesting, albeit uncomfortable, first person narration about the social hierarchy that exists in this particular place and time. On the other hand, it is rooted in an unfamiliar culture which left me confused, at times. Maybe the storyline of students and their cruelty to one another just rubbed me the wrong way (I'm a teacher). It is set just prior to the April 19, 1960 student revolution in Korea; something tells me that there is a ...more
Jan 08, 2017 Doyeon rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seyoon choi
Jan 19, 2015 Seyoon choi rated it really liked it
Our Twisted Hero
Our Twisted Hero, is a book that has a joyful start, but a tragic ending. Ok, I have read the book, but that was a few weeks ago, so I won’t be able to really say all the things that happened in this novella. Just the main things.

Firstly, a student called Han Pyongt’ae transfers newly, from Seoul to a village that has a shabby-looking elementary school. (I don’t know the village or school’s names. Typical!) Well, um he gets greeted by the teacher and sits down on the empty desk.
Mar 22, 2008 Christine rated it liked it
I admit, I have not read much Korean literature, even though I really want to get to know Korean literature. Even though there hasn’t been, until very recently, many Korean works translated into English. (My Korean reading/vocabulary, while proficient for conversation, is nowhere near the level needed for reading and understanding of literary works). When I asked my second cousins, my only blood relatives outside of my immediate family in the United States who I ought to begin reading, they list ...more
Thomas Andrikus
Jun 21, 2013 Thomas Andrikus rated it really liked it
Our Twisted Hero by Yi Munyol is a novella that tells the story of a 40-year-old man who reminisced about his memories of class monitor in his elementary school in a small South Korean town.

This 5th grade class monitor, named Sok-dae, is rather authoritarian and undemocratic, and during the first half of the novella, the story plot tells of struggles that Pyong-tae feels due to his antagonism towards authoritarian rulers.

However, Sok-dae is not entirely evil either. He is, in essence, a benevole
Zaka Giffari
Sep 05, 2015 Zaka Giffari rated it really liked it
A countryside bully and a haughty, almost unlikable protagonist down on his luck. A story about children, power and cronyism - like all good works, it could be interpreted very differently through our own personal lens : is it about totalitarianism? maybe it's about dictators and how they retain power? Or just a personal journal without any great moral lessons that we could take from it?

The book is about a big-city kid from an elite school -- Han Pyongtae, our twisted hero -- who, following his
Jun 08, 2012 Yupa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Di solito questo libro viene presentato come un "libro sul bullismo".
(...di quelli, magari, che si leggono nelle scuole per far riflettere bimbi e ragazzi e mostrar loro i vizî da evitare e le virtù da perseguire...)
Ma nel libro c'è ben poca trippa per gatti. Tutto si risolve in una relazione di vaga sottomissione tra il protagonista e il prepotente della classe, senza che si arrivi a chissà quali livelli di violenza concreta o psicologica.
E tutti i meccanismi di gruppo che sostengono il b
Jun 05, 2012 Jay rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Wow, what a well-written book! I don't often read a book -- even one as short as this -- within the space of 24 hours. I blame the world for offering too many other things to do and too many other books to read. Once I started wading into this book, though, the current took me all the way out to sea.

The story kept me in it's grip from start to finish, as I wondered first what the narrator would discover in this strange classroom (to most appearances like a normal classroom) and then, once he did
Jin Young
Jan 15, 2015 Jin Young rated it it was amazing
It was nice , even if at the beggining it was a bit boring .
As i went further into the book it got more intresting.
I wonder why Sokdae was like that. Well, he's Class Monitor, but that doesn't mean he's teacher. And his "Invisible" spies(I call them spies because they tell everything to Sokdae, and Invisible because not eveyrone knows that they're telling Sokdae about them.) And I think that Han Pyonet'ae was wrong to trust Sokdae when he started being nice to him. When Sokdae started being ni
Jan 14, 2015 Jake rated it really liked it
Three decades have passed since Han Pyongt'ae moved from Seoul to the small Korean town due to his father's transfer after a dispute. Han knew that he expected to own the school after reaching fifth grade in the obviously much more sophisticated Seoul school.

However, instead of being the obvious leader in this small pond, Han soon realizes he has a rival in the older class monitor Om Sokdae. Han loses the indirect war and bows to Om's rules. He even begins to admire his opponent's abilities t
Melina Natalie
Oct 26, 2016 Melina Natalie rated it really liked it
Such an interesting representation of nation-order through the eyes of a middle school classroom:
Some of my favorite quotes:
“all Sokdae wanted from me was to adapt to this order and not try to destroy the kingdom he had established. This was what submission meant.. now that I had abandoned my belief in the principle of freedom and any memory of the necessity of reason, submission didn’t really feel like a great price at all.”
“what was rightfully yours was taken from you and you weren’t angry.
Interesting book by proclaimed Korean modernist author Yi Munyol that reflects on Korea's past "mass dictatorship" and the change towards a new, but highly flawed democracy after the March 1960 rebellion. It is a story told by a middle-age man looking back on his early childhood life in elementary school where he had come from a prestigious school in urban Seoul, to a undistinguished elementary in the country-side, and how the experience has changed his life. As a young boy newly transferred, he ...more
Dec 25, 2012 S. rated it really liked it
Koreans can actually write a novel!

Japan has a population of 110 million and 500 authors who are known to Westerners. Korea has a population of 75 million, but less than 10 authors who are read in the West. is this cultural difference, a result of poverty, a flaw of the West itself, an artifact of Japan's status as a military-occupied country, or something else?

presumably if China becomes the dominant nation, Korea will suddenly become a literary powerhouse. but until then, this is about as good
Jun 15, 2011 Kat rated it really liked it
Good political commentary told through an elementary school boys perspective. Yi Munyol manages to comment on the political uprisings of Korea (at the time of publication) by mirror those events in the hierarchy established in a Korean elementary school. Instead of having a dictator who rules all, the boys have a class monitor who rules the class with an iron fist, intimidating the boys into giving up their prized possessions and ostracizing the "resistance". This novel managed to increase my kn ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
This book reminded me a little of Animal Farm because of its allegorical nature and because a historical context adds a whole other layer of depth to the story. This could be a possibility for the regular World Lit lit circles, but arguments against it is that students would probably just take it at face value as a bully story and would not learn much about the Korean culture. Rolling Meadows currently teaches it. I could see how it would be more powerful as a whole-class read because of the his ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
A brilliant coming-of-age tale of the "twisted hero" versus the class bully. Wrought with analogies mirroring the political climate in Korea at the time, this story centers around pre-teen Han's struggle to adjust to school life in a small village after his family's "relocation" from Seoul. Determined to take down the class dictator, Han struggles to break the spell he seems to have over the other boys and the teacher. In the end, Om's breakdown results after his own twisted secret is revealed. ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Sara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: who's interested in reading different literatures
Shelves: korea, novels
I understand somehow why this book was compared to Golding's "Lord of Flies"... I was very curious to read a South Korean book, as in Italy these books aren't very famous! And I ended up with Yi Munyol, one of the most famous South Korean writer. It is easy to read but, somehow the end was very bitter. I would like to read more from this controversial culture... so any suggestion is welcome!! ^_^

(this "review" sucks... sorry!!!)
Tara Schaafsma
Mar 02, 2013 Tara Schaafsma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Read this because I'm going to read some essays based on this book. Wasn't even sure what it was about, but I really liked it! A boy moves from Seoul to a smaller town/school and has to try and fit in. He sees the monitor of his class as authoritarian and having too much control and sets out to fight him and the system.
Jan 21, 2015 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
This is brilliant - the story of classroom politics used as an allegory for the Korean government and dictatorship, and the response of its people.

Though a mere 120 pages long, it took me longer than 120 pages would normally take. It just affected me like that, and is one I will reread again.
Jul 16, 2014 Daniela rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-english
Nebylo to špatné. Chlapec ze Soulu se přestěhuje do menšího města a snaží se najít své místo v nové škole, což mu ale značně komplikuje zástupce třídy s autoritářskými sklony, který je oním "Twisted Hero".
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Yi Mun-yol (born May 18, 1948) is a South Korean writer.

Yi Mun-yol was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1948, but the outbreak of the Korean War and his father's defection to North Korea forced his family to move about until they settled in Yeongyang, Gyeongsangbuk-do, the ancestral seat of his family. The fact that his father defected dramatically affected his life, as he was seen and treated as "th
More about Yi Mun-Yol...

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“Why is this class so lifeless? Like fools always watching to see how the next boy is reacting?” 1 likes
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