Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Korean
Translated from: Korean
Authors: Kyung-sook, Shin
Translated by: Šiaučiūnas-Kačinskas, Martynas
ISBN: 9786098233605
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2019
Publisher: Balto

“The Court Dancer” is a piece full of new adventures, experiences, and pain. The book is based on an actual person called Yi Jin who was a talented court dancer. After reading a short story about this girl the author felt a connection to her and decided to write a novel. In this novel you can find a lot of Korean history and culture, knowledge of a young woman and her painful life after leaving Joseon.

This novel begins from Yi Jin’s journey to France with her soon to be husband Collen. However, really quickly the plot changes and brings us back to Yi Jin’s childhood. This young girl had rough childhood after passing of her parents she starts living with her mom’s friend and starts to build her life again. The girl is extremely smart and talented. She starts learning French at a really young age from a priest residing in Joseon. We get to meet another important character young boy who cannot speak but starts living with Yi Jin since he is also an orphan that needs home. Suddenly, Yi Jin gets involved with royal palace affairs and gets really friendly with the queen. The close relationship between Yi Jin and the queen leaves a huge impact on the main character. That is why after hearing the news of the decision for her to marry a diplomat from France saddens her, however, she does not feel angry about the situation and just accepts her destiny. After getting to know her future husband Yi Jin falls in love with him and moves to France leaving everyone she loves behind. However, this new exotic, full of new culture country does not make Yi Jin feel at home, that is why we can feel so much home sickness and pain from her life in France.

This novel is very immersive. Such talented young woman story like Yi Jin’s fascinates and you find yourself wanting to learn more about her story. Will she get back home to her loved ones or will she get used to her new life in Europe. I would not call this book a love story between two people it is more a love story between a girl and her home country.

Shin Kyung-sook- is a Korean author, the first woman to win MAN ASIAN literary award. Famous work’s “Please Look after Mom” author.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU