SOS Book Club Pick: Crying in H-Mart

Our first SOS Book Club recommendation is “Crying in H-Mart” by Michelle Zauner. The book will have you crying along with the author in no time. A must-read.

About the South of Seoul Virtual Book Club

Looking for book recommendations? Welcome to the South of Seoul book club. We recommend a book every month. Such recommended books explore topics like 1) South Korean history or culture, 2) the complexity of cross-cultural life, or 4) the exploration of life within the diaspora experience.

Commitment to Accessibility

South of Seoul volunteers take book accessibility into consideration when recommending titles. We consider:

  • Purchasable in English In Korea: Many translated titles can’t actually be purchased in English in Korea,
  • Audio Version Available: Many people find audiobooks easier to consume.
  • Online Versions.: International residents can’t afford to travel with many books and many books may not be available in digital form from within Korea.

Commitment to Diverse Lived Experiences

South of Seoul volunteers seek to put lived experiences at the forefront of their recommendation choices. When considering authors we look for such things as:

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  • Korean authors writing about their lived experiences in Korea.
  • International residents writing about their lived experiences in South Korea.
  • Ethnic Koreans writing about their lived experience in other countries.

Reading about Korean culture from a variety of perspectives may provide readers with a greater understanding of the country and culture.

Commitment to Supporting Mental Health

South of Seoul also includes book recommendations that support the lives and mental health of our community. This means that books may tackle the issues related to living between cultures. This may include topics such as culture shock, language, relationships, and more.

Book Recommendation by LeaDan

I am a native Hawaiian who volunteers for South of Seoul as a Cultural Liason and Content Creative. My husband is in the US military and we have lived in South Korea for a number of years. The book hit home as I struggle with being separated from my culture in Hawaii which I love deeply.

About “Crying in H Mart”

In the haunting chorus of “Nobody sees me like you do” by Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner sings,

[CHORUS]

No one can see me like you do

No one can see you like I do

I read every page of “Crying in H Mart”, lingering ‘in tones and words’, captivated by projected visions of a stranger, whose words could have been those of a childhood friend, a neighbor, a classmate. Expats, Immigrants, and those of us in the military community, soldiers, spouses, and children know all too well. The feeling of both missing home and wanting, desperately, to recreate a sense of home in our new surroundings, often through familiar comforts. In the case of “Crying in H Mart”, these comforts would be our family, music, and, especially, food.

“Crying in H Mart”, Michelle Zauner’s story of her relationship with her Korean mother, who past away in 2014, is a touching tale that will speak to almost any audience. As a descendant of immigrants and an indigenous person, I also found it easy to relate to the struggles of belonging or, more appropriately the xenophobia that Asian Americans can experience in their own homes, both in the United States and abroad. Reconciling the adolescent need for independence, while also clinging to our cultural lifelines, our family. 

My Experience Reading “Crying in H Mart”

I read this book quickly because I was engaged and running out of Kleenex, as this book is aptly titled.

More Commentary and Reviews

Looking for more commentary and reviews on this month’s book club Crying in H-Mart? Check here for more on this book https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/crying-in-h-mart and the band, Japanese Breakfast https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/japanese-breakfast-jubilee/