The Price of Sacrifice: Women and Their Evolving Enemies by Kim Soom

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.21 Autumn 2013
  • byJung Yeo-ul
Women and Their Evolving Enemies

What is the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word mother? Unconditional love, sacrifice, and maternal instinct are some of the words we are conditioned to automatically think of. Kim Soom’s Women and Their Evolving Enemies takes a bold look at the inherent cruelty behind this image of the self-sacrificing mother.

The author paints a damning portrait of the modern generation that takes for granted the sacrifice of their mothers, all in the name of living a better life than their mothers’ generation. A telemarketer for a home shopping channel decides to live with her mother-in-law so her child “might have the chance to live in a good apartment.” Once they start living together she feels no guilt at treating her mother-in-law like the hired help. One day the mother-in-law realizes that she feels “like a living fossil.” The daughter-in-law also begins to feel insecure in her role as a so-called fabulous mom after she gets fired from her job. She treats her mother-in-law with increasing coldness and grows to resent her entire life.

At first the two were enthusiastic about what they believed would be an efficient and mutually beneficial living arrangement, but as time passes they suffer from a sense that their identities cease to matter. After being fired without notice, the daughter-in-law takes out her anger on her mother-in-law. She thinks nothing of sacrificing another mother so that she can be a good mom to her own son. Both women, however, share a similar fate in that they are mothers that sacrifice themselves for their sons. Unfortunately this is a vicious cycle that will be repeated as long as the modern generation expects their mothers to yield to their own selfish desires. 

Author's Profile

Kim Soom has published thirteen novels, most recently When Has a Soldier Wanted to Be an Angel? (2018) and Sublime is Looking Inward (2018), the third and fourth novels in her Comfort Women series, and six short story collections. She has received the Yi Sang Literary Award, Hyundae Literary Award, Daesan Literary Award, Heo Gyun Literary Award, and the Tong-ni Literature Prize. One Left (2016), the first novel in her Comfort Woman series, was translated and published in Japan in 2018. Her story "Divorce" is out from Strangers Press, UK as part of their Yeoyu Korean Literature series (2019)