Human Acts

Hardcover, 218 pages

English language

Published Jan. 17, 2017 by Hogarth Press.

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5 stars (1 review)

From the internationally bestselling author of “The Vegetarian,” a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho's best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho's own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns …

7 editions

This book had a deep impact on me

5 stars

This book caught my attention in th bookstore due to the cover (I love magpies) but my girfriendewho had read "The Vegetarian" recommended the author. The author managed to create a deep connection between me and the characters, I felt their hope and tragedy, like I have rarely experienced. And I learned a chapter of Korean history that I had not known about, but that is only on the side, this is not a Korean history book. Anyway, this changed how I view news of conflict and war, e.g. recently the Ukraine war. Usually I am a very rational and not the most empathetic person, I followed the war from a point of view of military strategy and tactics, but this book encouraged me to think about all the suffering, all the courage and anl the "human acts" that are hidden from puplic view but surely must be happening.


  • Fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • South Korea
  • Labor rights
  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Gwangju Uprising