Vegetarian by Han Kang

Yeong-hye the younger sister, unexpectedly breaks cultural mores and declares herself a vegetarian one day, leading to her husband’s confusion and anger over his wife’s new “tactics”. However, you can also see that she does not force her new change on anyone nor does she lecture them – all she wanted was to stop eating meat after a vicious dream haunts her every moment of the day, repelling her from having any of it.

This new change is then followed by her patriarchal husband and father who cannot allow Yeong-hye’s small desire, now “offended” with her disobeying attitude towards their commands, take the situation to a horrifying family scene that escalates into her dad physically abusing her, as the rest of the house simply continues to push her into giving in.

Another major character in Yeong-hye’s life is her brother-in-law, a video artist who has not produced any work due to his obsession with the idea of his sister-in-law’s birthmark, who finally fights and creates the piece with her. This eternal curiosity of the kind of art his and Yeong-hye’s body would that destroys the rest of his life and the Kim family forever! When caught by his wife In Hye, he sees how his mere desire, that on which he could have kept his leash on, consumes the life of the Kim sisters.

The story starts nearing its end, bringing the sisters together to come to terms with their violent upbringings and how it led to Yeong-hye now refusing to eat meat and accept assistance with it even on the brink of death. Diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, she remains misunderstood by her family, except for her sister, who on rewinding the different scenarios where they shared moments, finally gets a glimpse of what might have led to her decision to become a vegetarian and her beast-like resistance to a feeding tube now. The story reaches its end with In-hye looking into Yeong-hye’s eyes, as if protesting for confirmation, whether it was her cowardice and ignorance that brought her sister to the condition that she is in now.

Siyana | BHWU

BookHuntWithUs is an initiative started by us, the three bookhunters, to provide book reviews, exibhit our writings, showcase our book hunts and bring out all creativity surrounding books.


Leave a Reply

Related Articles