Jerry P. (Santa Rosa, CA)
Your Empire is Calling You
I liked this book. The plot-line, surprising ending and the in-depth portrayal of the main characters made it a worthwhile read. The author focused on the anxieties each member of a family was experiencing: the husband, his complacent lifestyle for the past ten years was abruptly shattered by an urgent email from his former country; the wife, who was undergoing an intense mid-life crisis filled with regrets of her past choices; and the daughter, who is struggling with teenage angst. As often happens, painful truth hastens the dissolution of an empty marriage.
As I was reading the book, I realized how little I knew about North and South Korea and how different the societies were, especially since they are neighbors.
I found my enthusiasm waned during the middle of the book. Of course, I was re-energized at the end. Some Korean words were not translated which was annoying.
Paul R. (Albuquerque, NM)
Your Republic is Calling
This was an interesting, but frustrating read. Warning: although this is a spy story, it’s not a thriller. But what’s frustrating is the main character. He’s faced with a choice – either he betrays his homeland or he betrays his family. His whole life is at stake -- and he can’t seem to make up his mind! He dithers and dithers until it’s too late and other people eventually make the decision for him. He never does figure out what he wants.
Anita S. (West Bloomfield, MI)
What Is A Spy?
This book was a page turner because I found the lives of the characters extremely interesting and , of course, the suspense of wanting to know what would happen to Ki-Yong and his family. Even though there were similarities to life in the U.S, there was so much more that was different. I felt that the conversations about religion, politics and their thoughts were unusual and I kept asking myself if people in the U.S spoke to each other in that way - at least none of my acquaintances do. Although this book is about a North Korean man who was sent to spy on S. Korea, it is really about a family's values, mores and life in Korea. It is also about choices that can determine the direction a life takes and at the same time, how little control we really we have over our lives. The author really made the characters come to life showing their personalities and the events that shaped their lives. One negative comment I have is that I found the Korean names very confusing. I had to write the names on a piece of paper to keep track of the characters. All in all, it is an exciting book and very different because of the Korean culture. It's also very relevant to what is in happening recently. I would recommend this book to my friends and book club.
Arden A. Lady Lake, Fl
A Day in the Life of a Spy.....
This was an excellent read. The premise was timely and coincidental, in view of the recent arrest and deportation of embedded Russian spies who were rounded up and exchanged for prisoners, a la the cold war scenarios. There is an interesting parallel between the two events, which make the writing of this book prescient. But, in this novel, unlike in the recent news story, the central character is suddenly called home after 20 years living a lie, and the suspense of discerning the whys and wherefores of the apparent call-back and the subsequent consequences make an intriguing read. We learn about the spy, his wife, his daughter, and all of the novel takes place within a 24 hour period. The twists and turns make for an enjoyable, thought-provoking, suspenseful read.
Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
Your Republic is Calling You...will you go?
Remember the movie Crash…all the characters dealing with their separate issues while rushing towards one final ‘crash’? Your Republic is Calling You by Young-Ha Kim has that same kind of feeling. Ki-yong, a Korean importer of films, has just received an email message that changes everything in his already pretty crazy life. He has been commanded to return to North Korea, the place he left years earlier under order to spy on the South. His wife, daughter, mistress and their acquaintances are pulled into the drama. This book has excitement, humor, absurdity and some pretty disgusting scenes. At times the excruciating details and rough translation make the reading tedious. The memorable characters and situations are worth the effort.
Kelly P. (Monterey, TN)
I have mixed feelings about Your Republic is Calling You. The concept of the book is excellent, the primary plotline involving Ki-yong’s dilemma is unique, and the insights into the Korean culture (both North and South) alone are worth the read. The structure of the book though bounced constantly from character to character, with some of the characters being nonessential to the story, and this kept me from being able to immerse myself completely in the story. I do not regret the time spent with the book but I do not treasure it either.
Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)
A Great Read,
This is a well written and interesting thriller. A sleeper agent receives the call he never thought was coming after 21 years and it effects his entire family. I enjoyed the book and was a little surprised by how much I didn't know about South Korea. I look forward to more by this author.