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A Japanese housewife fascinated by Korean publishes a book about Korea

A Japanese housewife fascinated by Korean publishes a book about Korea

Posted May. 18, 2015 07:11,   


“When I first heard a Korean phrase of `kkotbaem (literally means “flower snake”),` I thought of “a snake in the flower bed.”

Having spent three years in Seoul due to his husband’s work, a Japanese housewife in her 50s published a book titled “Korea full of strange and novel things” with her witty writing touch. She is Chinese teacher-turned author Yoko Nakano (aged 53, photo) who is currently living in Osaka. She resided in Seoul for three years from March 2011 and published the book in March this year. On Saturday, the Dong-A Ilbo met Yoko Nakano, who is now visiting Korea, at a restaurant in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul.

“After my first visit to Seoul in 2004, I began learning Korean,” said the newly-debuted author. “I was captivated by the language as it is full of interesting vocabulary and expression.” Some of the language usage that fascinated her include “jeoljeong (literally mean “peak” or “climax”)” that is usually used to express how human being feel is also used to describe cherry blossom in full bloom and “jaturi sigan (literally mean “extra time”), which was semantic combination of “leftover piece of cloth” and “time.”

She recalled the most perplexing moment in Seoul was when she witnessed a sign of cosmetic surgery clinic in Gangnam that read “Correct cosmetic surgery.” “I was not able to understand how people’s appearance could be such a thing that could be described with adjectives as correct or incorrect. I felt that not a few Korean women are only obsessed with their look.”

“In bookstores in Korea, many books by Japanese writers such as Haruki Murakami and Keigo Higashino are displayed in best spots. In Japan, however, most Korea-related books are anti-Korea ones,” said Yoko Nakano. “Even pro-Korean Japanese people have little interest in Korean art. It is pity that not many people in Japan know the fact that general Koreans have high interests in Japanese novels and movies.”

In favor of paintings by the late Kim Hwan-gi and essays by the late Jang Yeong-hui, she said, “I’m just one of housewives but wish that my book could help improve the relations between Korea and Japan. I plan to keep writing that are easy and fun to read so that more Japanese people know about positive sides of Korea.”