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The Hole

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,174 ratings  ·  213 reviews
A Bestseller in Korea, a Psychological Thriller about Loneliness and the Dark Truths We Try to Bury

In this tense, gripping novel by a rising star of Korean literature, Ogi has woken from a coma after causing a devastating car accident that took his wife’s life and left him paralyzed and badly disfigured. His caretaker is his mother-in-law, a widow grieving the loss of her
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Arcade (first published March 23rd 2016)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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 ·  1,174 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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Jessica Woodbury
It was not hard to sell me on a dark Korean horror novel/psychological thriller. The comparison to Shirley Jackson was intriguing, of course. But I think it's best not to compare it to Jackson or King but to come into this book without the expectations an American would have of a horror novel written by an American. 2016's THE VEGETARIAN will feel much closer, not only because the author is also Korean but because it also has a sly, subversiveness that can go unnoticed if you aren't willing to ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: korean, top-10-2018
A psychological thriller, yes. But I think it's more than that. Why else make the evil mother-in-law Japanese in a novel otherwise filled with Korean characters. It's deceptively simple but carefully plotted; assured. I read it in two or three gulps. I didn't take a note.

The protagonist is paralyzed, numb, incapable of speaking. He will suffer horrors, humiliation, memory.

Do you ever read a book and wonder: Is that me? Am I him?

Tasukete kudasai. Tasukete kudasai. Tasukete kudasai. . . ..
Book Riot Community
Just the idea of Korean horror in translation was enough to get me on board with this book. Even better, it’s reminiscent of both Han Kang and Shirley Jackson, a sly and sharp book that only slowly lets you see what it really is. After a car accident that killed his wife, Oghi is almost completely physically incapacitated, unable to move or speak and cared for by his mother-in-law. There is a lot of physical horror here that is troubling all on its own, as Oghi is less a physical being as a set ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Reading this book was like an experience unlike any other.
From start to finish the story is so uncomfortable and claustrophobic that it tugs at your heartstrings not knowing what else will befall the protagonist or how on Earth it’ll all conclude.
This’s translated from Korean and serious props to the translator who did an excellent job. It was superb.
Katherine Elizabeth
Apr 02, 2018 marked it as soon-to-be-read
I literally bought this 100% because of the cover. No shame. I just hope the inside is as pretty as the outside. ...more
Paul Fulcher
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
So that's what I'll do. What my daughter couldn't. What she meant to do. What she wanted to do. I have to do it for her. And I will.

편혜영 (Pyun Hye-Young)'s 홀(a phonetic 한글 rendition of 'hole') was published in Korean in 2016 and translated into English, as Hole, by Sora Kim-Russell.

I have previously read the author's Evening Proposal, which I wasn't entirely convinced by (, in part due to the translation (by a different translator), and in part as this was
David Yoon
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Oghi has awoken from a coma after a horrific car accident. His wife has died and Oghi is almost completely paralyzed. With a shattered jaw and damaged vocal cords he’s also rendered mute. Eventually discharged from the hospital he finds himself alone in the world with only his mother-in-law to look after him. She’s exhausted by the effort but also seems to be harbouring some seething resentment towards Oghi.

It’s a claustrophobic story with a bubbling undercurrent of mounting tension told from
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Oghi has woken from a coma only to learn that he has been involved in an accident that has left him paralyzed and unable to speak and his wife dead. He is left in the care of his mother-in-law and is the object of neglect and abuse. He only has the small bedroom and his memories and has no control over anything in his life – his health, his money, his home, his future. His mother-in-law obviously doesn’t have Oghi’s best interests at heart. She starts to work in her dead daughter’s garden, ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my biggest fears is lack of control. And boy does this novel play to that. It was super hard for me to read, because the situation the protagonist finds himself in is an almost unbearable idea to me. But I'm really glad I stuck with it and read the entire book. This is a slow burn that has a very startling and satisfying ending.

You may have already noticed from the blurb that this a Korean novel that was translated into English. There is always a bit of something that is missing from a
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks, read-in-2018

I feel like every time I finish a Korean/Japanese/Chinese book I start with 'this is a quiet story about...' but, again this is a quiet, slow story. This book follows a man who is paralyzed after a car crash where he survived and his wife did not. It's about exploring his past and his memories, what he thought he knew and what he didn't about himself but also his wife, as well as a really creepy mother-in-law and a hole. This book had some BEAUTIFUL passages - really, the writing was
Michael Sorbello
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Plays out in a similar fashion as Stephen King's Misery, only this time it's between a disgruntled widower and his unstable step-mother. After being rendered crippled from a brutal car crash that killed his wife, Oghi is forced into the care of his insane step-mother and a world of abuse begins. You could quite literally say that this novel is about Oghi slowly sinking into a metaphorical hole, his broken past and his unhealthy relationships with nearly every single person in his life are ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Oakes
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
like a 3.7 rounded up

This book was recently nominated for the Shirley Jackson award, but I'd read the author's short story "Caring for Plants" in the New Yorker last year, which actually led to me buying the novel. It's a frightening tale, told solely through the point of view of the victim of a car accident (Oghi) in which his wife died and he was left in a coma. Now he is awake, he paralyzed and unable to speak. He has now returned to

"the world where, as his doctor explained, the only way to
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Korean suspense/thriller novel. The main character, Oghi, is a well-known cartographer and tenured professor. While driving with his wife, they are involved in a car crash. She perishes in the accident and he is left incapacitated and incommunicado. He can't walk, has limited movement in one of his hands and can only blink to indicate yes/no. His mother-in-law, recently widowed, takes it upon herself to care for him since they are now both without any living family in the world. She has always ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
Imagine not being able to move any of your limbs and only being able to communicate by ringing a bell, once for yes, twice for no. Now imagine that the person taking care of you is your mother-in-law and she has some dirt on you from your past. Hye-Young Pyun does a fantastic job of putting you in “The Hole” with Oghi, the main character in this constricting novel about isolation.

Oghi wakes up and he’s paralyzed in the hospital. His wife died in the car accident and he’s left with his
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oooooo.. very sinisterly crafted. I found some parts difficult to read, but that's a good thing as it scared me right inside the novel! Perfectly translated as well.
I can't say I "enjoyed" this book but that is a mark of its success--it is, after all, populated entirely by horrible characters, stuck in horrible circumstances. I felt dread every time I began a chapter and relief whenever I finished it. But I should say that I was always compelled to read on, and never considered giving up--largely thanks to Kim-Russell's short, sharp sentences. Also, I very much appreciated how each chapter adds new layers of complexity to the novel's central triad of ...more
Andy Weston
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Labelled by some as a psychological horror novel, and compared by some to Shirley Jackson’s writing, I found this a strange book. A short novel, that may have worked better even shorter.
It’s a claustrophobic story with a bubbling undercurrent of mounting tension about a man suffering from injuries sustained in a car crash. He has been left paralysed and without the power of speech, yet with his brain working normally.
The tension builds and builds, steadily at first, but then less so, and when
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A literary thriller that kept me on the edge of my chair. I read in one sitting. Spellbinding.
Beth Walker
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read Harder Challenge 2019
#10 - A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman

Very dark, but hard to put down.
** Books 111 - 2019 **

This books to accomplish Tsundoku Books Challenge 2019

3,8 of 5 stars!

When i saw this books from Transit Santa bookstore i am curious what is the book talk about? I read the premist and looks promising why not i am trying new korean mystery thriller after i read The Vegetarian by Han Kang before?

Ohgi, an 40 years old man had car accident and unfortunately his wife is passed away along the accident. Ohgi is an orphan since both of his parents is passed away a long time ago.
Such a page turner, such sinister and shivery good fun.

#WIT 2019 no. 2
World Literature Today
"The Hole, by Hye-young Pyun, one of South Korea’s most notable writers, embarks on an intriguing premise. What happens when a successful life is destroyed after a terrible accident? And if the responsibility for this accident lies with the sole survivor: the dead woman’s husband? These complex moral questions drive the novel to its dark, fearless end." - Kyrs Lee

This book was reviewed in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of World Literature Today magazine. Read the full review by visiting our website:

Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, korean-lit, owned
I picked this as my first book of 2019 as part of the Ladies of Horror Fiction's Instagram challenge #ladiesfirst2019, that challenged participants to make their first book of the year a horror book written by a woman. While not horror in the traditional sense, I feel that "The Hole", by Hye-Young Pyun was a great way to start the reading year.

Winner of the 2017 Shirley Jackson Award, "The Hole" follows Oghi, a tenured university professor, who wakes up after a car accident to realize he is now
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bookslut
I enjoyed reading this book and I thought the translation into English was well done. I speak Korean conversationally at a minimum and I am familiar enough with texts translated into English from Korean that I have seen all the ways it can go wrong.

It was at times riveting and also slightly horrifying....kind of along the lines of Misery as described in the blurb but it is not Misery and does not, at least to me, feel like a Korean author copying Stephen King. It is its own story and a well done
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Well. I can't say I liked this book. But I don't think it's supposed to be an enjoyable read. This book is only 198 pages, but I felt like it took me a long time to read because I only wanted to read a few pages at once. This book was suffocating and uncomfortable. And I think that's exactly what the author wanted me to feel.

The book opens when the narrator, Oghi, regains conciousness after a horrible car crash. The majority of his body is unable to function as it once did. He can't talk, he
John Armstrong
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: korean-modern
Pyun said of her short story “Caring for plants” (published in translation in the New Yorker in 2017) that there was a larger story to tell, and in this book she tells that story. It’s the story of a marriage, told over the course of the book from the point of view of a man recovering at home, under the strict supervision of his mother-in-law, from injuries sustained in a car crash in which his wife died. Very controlled, purposeful writing, reminiscent of the Japanese novelist Junichiro ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For a story that takes place exclusively in one character's mind it was a very tense read. Oghi who was a cartographer and a lecturer is left a broken man after a serious car accident that claimed his wife's life. He is left at the mercy and care of his mother in law who on the surface takes care of his needs but also seems to have a different agenda. After finishing the novel I think I might need to read it again because I rushed through the ending and probably missed out on some major clues.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
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편혜영(片惠英,1972년~)은 대한민국의 소설가이다. 서울에서 태어났으며, 서울예대 문예창작과를 졸업하고 한양대학교 국어국문학과 대학원 석사과정을 졸업했다. 2000년 서울신문 신춘문예에 단편소설 〈이슬털기〉가 당선되면서 데뷔했다. 2007년 단편소설 〈사육장 쪽으로〉로 제40회 한국일보문학상을, 2009년 단편소설 〈토끼의 묘〉로 제10회 이효석문학상을, 2012년 소설집 〈저녁의 구애〉로 제42회 동인문학상을, 2014년 단편소설 〈몬순〉으로 제38회 이상문학상을 수상했다. 현재 명지대학교 문예창작학과 교수(2013~)로 재직 중이다.

Pyun Hye-young was born in Seoul in 1972. She earned her undergraduate degree in creative
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“Oghi looked lovingly on his wife’s shallow vanity. She knew exactly what her goals were, and though she believed in them, she failed at nearly everything she set out to do. Yet she brushed off each failure, hardly any worse for the wear. Then quickly found herself a new role model and extoled their virtues ad nauseam. By doing so, she seemed to come to an understanding of the difference between longing and ambition.” 1 likes
“To be human was to be saddled with emptiness.” 0 likes
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