Encountering Zombies: Zombies by Kim Junghyuk

  • onApril 20, 2015
  • Vol.27 Spring 2015
  • byKim Junghyuk
Zombies, la descente aux enfers
Tr. Moon So-young and Béatrice Guyon

After publishing La bibliothèque des instruments de musique and Bus Errant in the Micro-Fictions collection of Decrescenzo Éditeurs, which introduced several Korean writers such as Kim Ae-ran and Eun Heekyung, Kim Junghyuk is back with his first novel to be translated into French, Zombies, la descente aux enfers.

The novel introduces Chae Ji-hoon, an amiable protagonist that readers will enjoy following around. Ji-hoon suddenly leaves his peaceful daily routine of detecting telecommunication signals alone in his car, by encountering several characters. First, he meets Bouboule 130, a joyful librarian fond of music who will soon become his best friend. Then come various habitants of the city of Gorio, a gloomy, strange, and even sometimes inhuman place.

Ji-hoon will soon learn how to live with the “zombies” he meets and get used to them through a series of encounters, each one more bizarre than the last. For example, we will learn that these creatures from another world love music. Feeling fear as well as compassion, Ji-hoon and his friends start tracking the zombies in order to discover the odd story surrounding them.

In this lengthy but fast-paced novel, the typical Kim Junghyuk characters can be found: characters who are removed from reality and who always convey a lot of fun (Bouboule 130 is the true epitome of grotesque!) but nevertheless show human concern and sympathy. We are also very pleased to find humor along the way and serious themes dealt with unconventionally, such as the funny episode of the epitaphs on gravestones that look like genuine pearls of literature.

Slightly fantastic but not overly so, Zombies is a very pleasant read which distinguishes itself from the usual realist serious literature. Do not be turned away by the blood-red cover. On the contrary, horror is mocked throughout the adventures of the two protagonists. 


by Lucie Angheben
Co-editor-in-chief, Keulmadang

Author's Profile

Kim Junghyuk is a writer, film critic, music columnist, and cartoonist. He has received the Dongin Literary Award and Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award. French editions of his books include Your Shadow Is a Monday (Les ombres du lundi), Zombies (Zombies, la descente aux enfers), Wandering Bus (Bus errant), and The Library of Musical Instruments (La bibliothèque des instruments de musique) published by Decrescenzo éditeurs. English editions of his books include The Library of Musical Instruments published by Dalkey Archive Press.