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Please Look After Mother

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  23,184 ratings  ·  4,145 reviews
When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?

Told through the piercing voices and urgent perspectives o
...more
Hardcover, 237 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by George Weidenfeld & Nicholson (first published November 5th 2008)
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Saba Khan
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Cavak I suppose that's one way of looking at it. She was barely coherent though, so I wouldn't say it was as intentional as that.
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,184 ratings  ·  4,145 reviews


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Ruthie Jones
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wip-comps, nook-book
Powerful and unforgettable! I actually believe this book has changed me or at least opened my eyes to my own level of participation (and shortcomings) in my relationships.

This amazing story will rip you to shreds and force you to face difficult questions about your own relationships--not just with your mom but with all those people who claim a piece of your life and heart: "Who are these people who love me so much?" "Why do I take their very existence for granted?" "Do any of these people really
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JV (semi-hiatus)
"How far back does one’s memory of someone go? Your memory of Mom?"
An international bestseller, Please Look After Mom is a melancholic read that chronicles the life of a loving, selfless mother marred with sacrifice, poverty, sadness, and loneliness. When sixty-nine-year-old Park So-nyo went missing in Seoul Subway Station, her family's desperate attempt to find her leads them towards questioning their own notion about how well they know "Mom". Told from four different perspectives, each showi
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Jordan Ferguson
This is not the sort of book I read, and I’d be lying if I said the Korean name on the cover didn’t play a part in getting me to crack the spine; I tend to give passes to stories I think are lame when they come from Asian countries, it’s just where my own cultural preferences lie. Even still the story, about a family dealing with the disappearance of their mother in a Seoul subway station, would normally have been a little too ‘old lady book club’ for me. But one detail of the plot, a minor poin ...more
Elaine
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Wow, that was bizarre and bad. What starts out as an interesting family novel turns into an extended hagiography of "Mom", a woman so amazingly selfless and nurturing that puppies, ducklings, fields and orphans spring into worshipful life around her -- only her callous children and faithless husband don't see the value of this woman, who secretly feeds the poor, delivers the baby of a man who stole from her, sleeps in the cold, and donates her old-age mite to orphans. She is so selfless that -- ...more
Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City
**spoiler towards the end!
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I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven't forgotten a thing. So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning? She didn't have the opportunity to pursue her dreams, and all by herself, faced everything the era dealt her, poverty and sadness, and she couldn't do anything about her very bad lot in life other than suffer through it and get beyond it and live her life to th
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Karen Ng
Wow....wait, I need to capitalize this: WOW...This story took me through an emotional roller coaster that reminded me of all my personal shortcomings in the relationship department with my own family and my Mom. The last time I was this wrecked was when my father passed away of cancer 2 years ago.

The story begins when the 70-year old mother of a family disappears from a Seoul train station. The family, 5 grown children and her husband, is desperate to find her and yet, on the other hand, are bla
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Jill
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Those who have traveled in Southeast Asia – and Korea in particular -- will know right away that the number 4 (pinyin sì) is considered unlucky because it sounds like “death” (pinyin sǐ). Why, then, did Korean author Kyung-sook Shin carefully craft a novel from four different viewpoints?

The answer is that the members of this family are unlucky, or at the very least, careless. Through years as a family, none of them ever really knew Mom or understood the sources of her strength. And now she has d
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Clare Cannon
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adults

A beautiful story about the small but heroic sacrifices made by a Korean mother for her family, and the lack of recognition her family gave her until the day she goes missing on the city subway.

The second person narratives - while a little disconcerting at times - allow each of her children, her husband, and finally the mother herself to share their own experience of her disappearance, and the memories it recalls about their lives before.

The mood is sombre, reflective, and would be heavy if no
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April (Aprilius Maximus)
DNF at 50% - Honestly just couldn't get into it :(
Helly
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, the first thing I did after reading this book is ask my parents to go and get their full body medical checkup. It is quite terrible how we tend to neglect the people who invest their life and money on us and by the time the realisation Dawns upon us, it is too late.

Shin's novel speaks to the reader from the second person narrative, reminding her/him how all of us are in the same place and still have a chance to rectify our mistakes while there is time.

Highly urge you to read this and make
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Syndi
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very depressing read. When the mother went missing, none that closed to her, her family, knows basic information about her. Birth date, picture, what the mother likes, her habit. And what most important her loneliness inside her heart. The children taking her for granted, husband who is too timid to express his love and devotion.

I don not like the writing. Its too much description that I found annoying.
Well I never think I would say this when I finish reading it: I am glad I finish t
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Laura
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, book-club
An elderly woman, in poor health, disappears in Seoul and her family tries to find her. As they do so, the reader learns about her life and the sacrifices she made for her husband and children.

I would have liked this book a lot better if it had dispensed with the moralizing. The narrative itself held my attention, and the book would have been interesting as a simple family portrait. But I felt browbeaten while reading it, as though the author were constantly wagging her finger at me for failing
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Aldrin
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oskar Schell, the lead character in Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, uses a rather quaint metaphor to describe something that makes him feel sad: "heavy boots," as in, "I desperately wish I had my tambourine with me now, because even after everything I'm still wearing heavy boots, and sometimes it helps to play a good beat," "It gave me heavy boots that she had nightmares, because I didn't know what she was dreaming about and there was nothing I could do to ...more
Book Concierge
Translated by Chi-Young Kim
Book on CD read by: Mark Bramhall, Janet Song, Samantha Quan, and Bruce Turk

From the book jacket: A million-plus-copy best seller in Korea – this is the stunning, deeply moving story of a family’s search for their mother, who goes missing one afternoon amid the crowds of the Seoul Station subway.

My reactions
I enjoy reading fiction from and about different cultures. Shin’s work gives the reader some insight into contemporary Korean life, but it was missing something fo
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Jenna Kathleen
I'm having a hard time deciding if I actually liked this book or not. It's not the type of book I'd typically pick up, but I'm trying to make a point of reading more Korean authors (even if I'm just reading the English version for now) since I moved here.

The story is told from four different perspectives, three of which are told in the second person. Anyone who knows what I like to read knows I have a lot of issues with second person narratives. I find them distracting and difficult to read. I f
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Ana
Reading Women Challenge 2018
#23. The book that has been on your TBR the longest

Since both my physical and my virtual TBRs are an ever-changing mess, I went to the surest place to find the book that’s been there the longest: my Kindle!

“Either a mother and daughter know each other very well, or they are strangers.”

I don’t know what I would have thought about it, had I read it five years ago, when it was sent to me by a friend. It is one of those books that has a different meaning depending on whe
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Mizuki
May 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really, really don't like this book.

Although I don't mean to say it's a badly written book, it isn't. But I dislike how the author sets up this Mother character as some sort of 'ideal mother'---she is tireless, selfless, all-giving, she puts her family above her own self, she never complained even when FOR YEARS no one appreciated her sacrifice, her whole life is nothing but taking care of her husband and her family.

Over and over and over I was told how GREAT this mother is, how everyone came
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MaryG2E
This book caused me some heartache. It deals with many social themes, including those relating to family, duty, honour and integrity, and I found some of the narrative elements quite confrontational.

In this book Mother is a product of the traditional rural society of the Korean countryside, whereas her adult children are very much rooted in modern city life. Because her husband and children are preoccupied with their own ambitions and pursuits, they fail to see the deterioration in Mother's heal
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Walt
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Piercing.

This novel about a Korean family cut and passed through me, stabbing me, penetrating my soul.

Yeah, that's the adjective I want to use, piercing. That word describes my thoughts about PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM by Kyung-sook Shin.

The novel's story, which recounts interactions and their resulting implications between a husband and his wife and the same with respect to a daughter and son from the same family with their beloved mother, made its way through me. It forced its way into my conscienc
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Kirsty
I chose to read Kyung-Sook Shin's novel, Please Look After Mother, for the South Korea stop on my Around the World in 80 Books challenge. Please Look After Mother has sold almost 1.5 million copies in South Korea alone since its publication in 2009; the author is one of the country's most widely read and acclaimed novelists, and has won many literary prizes throughout her career. The book was a highly anticipated one for me, and I was so looking forward to getting to it. The English translation, ...more
Jackie
Kyung-sook Shin is a best selling Korean author who is finally in
translation here in the States. And, oh my, how glad I am. Her
writing is mesmerizing, deep and beautiful. She pushes the reader
into the story by literally using referring to "you" as the narrating
character. "You" are looking for your 69 year old mother who
disappeared in a Seoul subway station on the way to a birthday dinner.
Sometimes "you" are the oldest daughter, other times "you" are the
favored son. Sometimes you are looki
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Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Renita D'Silva
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and poignant. A book to make you think. One that reminds you not to take your loved ones for granted.
Homa Sharifmousavi
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The setting of the story is in Korea,the countryside where an old couple live and Seoul where their children live.Story starts with their mom missing because she accidentally parted from her husband on the trip they took to Seoul to celebrate their birthdays with their children.As the story goes we start to find out more about Mom and her relationship with her family members and we find out she was suffering from some kind of dementia that made it hard for her to find her way in the city.Each ch ...more
Gaby
I'd read a review of Please Look After Mom in the New York Times. I was very excited to read and review the book when offered the chance through the Amazon Vine program. Written by one of South Korea's most widely read and highly respected authors, this is her first book translated into English.

Please Look After Mom tells the story of Park So-nyo, an elderly mother of five and grandmother, who gets separated from her husband in the subway at Seoul. Her husband and children begin a systematic sea
...more
Lisa
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a deep look into another culture.
This book is very unique. I really can't say I've ever read a book like this before. There are 4 alternating points of view, and the author often uses the 2nd person narrative to tell the story. I'm surprised to say that I LOVED that. It made me feel so engaged in the novel. I'd really love to see more books written from this perspective if it could be done this successfully. The writing is not complicated, but the themes and the story are. There is a lot to consider about who this woman was, wh ...more
Lisa
Hmm, perhaps I should have guessed that an ‘international best-seller’ with a million sales in Korea alone would be a disappointment…

I was about a quarter of the way through Please Look After Mom (translated as Please Look After Mother in the UK) and was bored witless by it so I decided to re-check its nomination for the Man Asian Literary Prize to see why I should have been enjoying it. It seemed to me that this was a rather pedestrian story in rather plodding prose about an ageing mother who
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Lisa
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
"Please Look After Mom" is about a remarkable woman who is virtually invisible to her husband and adult children until she disappears one day in a Seoul subway station. Her absence allows them to see and appreciate her for the first time. This powerful novel about motherhood resonated in a very personal way for me - both as a daughter and mother.
Hadrian
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: korea, fiction
This may be an emotionally manipulating best-seller, but it's a really good emotionally manipulating best-seller.

Call your mothers.
Nadia King
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Please Look After Mother' tells the story of a mother's disappearance. It's achingly told through the voices of the mother's family. Regret and sacrifice fill every page of this Korean novel. Beautifully told. I thoroughly enjoyed the intimate insights into Korea's culture and customs.
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Kyung-Sook Shin is a South Korean writer. She is the first South Korean and first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 for 'Please Look After Mom'.
“You realize that you habitually thought of Mom when something in your life was not going well, because when you thought of her it was as though something got back on track, and you felt re-energized.” 160 likes
“...I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven't forgotten a thing. So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning? She didn't have the opportunity to pursue her dreams, and all by herself, faced everything the era dealt her, poverty and sadness, and she couldn't do anything about her very bad lot in life other than suffer through it and get beyond it and live her life to the very best of her ability, giving her body and her heart to it completely. Why did I never give a thought to Mom's dreams?” 142 likes
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