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Your Republic Is Calling You Summary and Reviews

Your Republic Is Calling You

by Young-ha Kim

Your Republic Is Calling You
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2010
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Paperback Original. A foreign film importer, Gi-yeong is a family man with a wife and daughter. An aficionado of Heineken, soccer, and sushi, he is also a North Korean spy who has been living among his enemies for twenty-one years.

Suddenly he receives a mysterious email, a directive seemingly from the home office. He has one day to return to headquarters. He hasn’t heard from anyone in over ten years. Why is he being called back now? Is this message really from Pyongyang? Is he returning to receive new orders or to be executed for a lack of diligence? Has someone in the South discovered his secret identity? Is this a trap?

Spanning the course of one day, Your Republic Is Calling You is an emotionally taut, psychologically astute, haunting novel that reveals the depth of one particularly gripping family secret and the way in which we sometimes never really know the people we love. Confronting moral questions on small and large scales, it mines the political and cultural transformations that have transformed South Korea since the 1980s. A lament for the fate of a certain kind of man and a certain kind of manhood, it is ultimately a searing study of the long and insidious effects of dividing a nation in two.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Kim’s thoughtful, effortless prose is a pleasure. His characters are completely relatable and their story is revelatory. A writer to watch—and, of course, read." - Booklist

"Challenging, occasionally forced and turgid, but energized by a powerful sense of the difficulty of "belonging" in a dangerous place and time. Perhaps the most intriguing and accomplished Korean fiction yet to appear in English translation." - Kirkus

"Kim offers a riveting tale of espionage along with keen observations of human behavior." - Publishers Weekly

"What a ride! Young-ha Kim is clearly a writer to watch out for. Your Republic Is Calling You promises to be the breakout book from Korea. Through his compelling narration of events happening in a single day, he leads us into the heart and soul of modern Korea and tells us and what it means to be human in a world bristling with borders. I cannot praise it enough." - Vikas Swarup, author of Slumdog Millionaire

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Reader Reviews

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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.

Neil W. (Tavares, FL)

Any Day in a Life
This is a cleverly written and plotted book which takes place in a single day. The subject matter is timely, as it relates to espionage and agents living under deep cover in a foreign land. While some of the nuances are likely lost in translation, the plot builds steadily to a very exciting conclusion. The similarities and differences between the two prominent economic theories of our day are presented well. Somewhere along the line, the allegorical connections to all our lives are revealed. A little slow going in the middle, but worth reading to the very end. Do not start at the back of the book or peak at the ending!

Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)

A glimpse of a world we rarely see
I loved this book. It has a mystery running through it – who has sent the ‘Order 4’ e-mail to the main character, Ki-Yong? - but more than that it is a fascinating look at life in South Korea and the changes that have taken place there over the last 20 years, as well as the views held by South Koreans and North Koreans about each other and the rest of the world, plus a close look at one unhappy Korean family. The writing style is very straightforward, and not ornate, but the overall effect of the book is haunting.

Sandi S. (Kula, HI)

Your Republic is Calling You
What a great read! A tightly written psychological thriller. The novel takes place in the day after Ki-yong, an embedded North Korean spy, receives an email telling him to report into home base after twenty years in South Korea. Although it is only a twenty-four time span it is filled with experiences and reflections of Ki-yong, his wife, daughter, and their associates covering relationships, alienation, choice, murder, suicide, sex, and Korean culture. Kim does not waste a word in this well written page turner.

I highly recommend it.

Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)

Get ready to stay up late!
Once you start reading this fun, informative, compelling story you won’t want to stop. The protagonist is a North Korean spy who has been living quietly with his wife and daughter in South Korea for many years when he receives a message ordering him to return to North Korea in 24 hours. The rest of the book chronicles the next 24 hours in the life of the spy, his wife and his daughter. The excellent characterization takes this book beyond being just a spy thriller and gives the reader insight into life in modern South Korea.

...15 more reader reviews

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Young-ha Kim's I Have the Right to Destroy Myself won Korea's Munhak-dongne prize and was a Border's Original Voices pick upon publication in the United States. He has earned a reputation as the most talented and prolific Korean writer of his generation, publishing five novels and three collections of short stories since 1996.

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