Are you as obsessed with K-Dramas (Korean language television shows) as we are?? To celebrate the end of AAPI Heritage Month, we’ve paired some of our fave shows with some of our fave books, though we recognize that not all of these books are by/about Korean people – let us know what you think!
Note: All K-Drama summaries are taken from IMDb.com.
Cinderella and the Four Knights
A young girl who lives with her cruel stepmother and sister, accidentally meets three young and rich cousins who live a luxury life in a big mansion and is hired by the boys’ grandpa to manage their bad behavior.
From Little Tokyo, With Love
By Sarah Kuhn
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593327487 | Viking BFYR
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale – being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business – she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills, and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold. All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness – searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe . . . finally finding a sense of belonging. But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?
A big-city dentist opens up a practice in a close-knit seaside village, home to a charming jack-of-all-trades who is her polar opposite in every way.
I Guess I Live Here Now
By Claire Ahn
416 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593403198 | Viking BFYR
Melody always wanted to get to know the Korean side of her Korean American heritage better, but not quite like this. Thanks to a tiny transgression after school one day, she’s shocked to discover that her parents have decided to move her and her mom out of New York City to join her father in Seoul – immediately! Barely having the chance to say goodbye to her best friend before she’s on a plane, Melody is resentful, angry, and homesick. But she soon finds herself settling into their super luxe home, meeting cool friends at school, and discovering the alluring aspects of living in Korea – trendsetting fashion, delectable food, her dad’s black card, and a cute boy to hang out with. Life in Seoul is amazing . . . until cracks begin to form on its shiny surface. Troubling family secrets, broken friendships, and a lost passion are the prices Melody has to pay for her new life, but is it worth it?
Her Private Life
A romantic comedy about a talented gallery curator named Sung Duk Mi, who is an idol fan-girl underneath her professional veneer. Meanwhile, her boss Ryan becomes a passionate fan-boy of her.
By Alexandra Leigh Young
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213645 | Walker Books US
Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans – and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way. . . . This debut novel is about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true. It will speak to fans of K-pop and to anyone who is trying to take their talents to the next level.
SF8 revolves around people who dream of a perfect society. It tackles the themes of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, robots, games, fantasy, horror, superpowers and disasters.
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead. To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.
After a chance encounter in LA, two teens from different social backgrounds reunite at an exclusive high school attended by Korea’s über rich.
The Noh Family
By Grace K. Shim
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593462737 | Kokila
Release Date: May 3, 2022
When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Chang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it – she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected – she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from travelling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family. Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off – she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
Chae Dae Wong, an aspiring actor, unwillingly releases a Gumiho, a legendary nine-tailed fox, from her centuries-old prison. He runs away terrified and ends up injuring himself badly, but she saves his life and asks to stay by his side.
By Kat Cho
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812360 | Putnam BFYR
Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret – she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead – her gumiho soul – in the process. Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl – he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway. When he finds her fox bead, he does not realize he holds her life in his hands. With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.
Bonus: My Roommate is a Gumiho
The thrilling love story of Shin Woo Yeo, a 999-years-old gumiho who wants to become human, and Lee Dam, who accidentally swallowed his fox bead.
By Kat Cho
416 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812377 | Putnam BFYR
Somin is ready to help her friends pick up the pieces of their broken lives and heal. But Jihoon is still grieving the loss of his grandmother, and Miyoung is distant as she grieves over her mother’s death and learns to live without her fox bead. The only one who seems ready to move forward is their not-so-favorite dokkaebi, Junu. Somin and Junu didn’t exactly hit it off when they first met. Somin thought he was an arrogant self-serving, conman. Junu was, at first, amused by her hostility toward him until he found himself inexplicably drawn to her. Somin couldn’t deny the heat of their attraction. But as the two try to figure out what could be between them, they discover their troubles aren’t over after all. The loss of Miyoung’s fox bead has caused a tear between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and ghosts are suddenly flooding the streets of Seoul. The only way to repair the breach is to find the missing fox bead or for Miyoung to pay with her life. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice. In usual fashion, Somin may have a thing or two to say about that.