A cross section of Korea from a foreigner’s point of view, ‘Funereal’ 영국 소설가, 지아코모 리

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Photos by Gigcomo Lee


A Western-English novel about Koreans living in modern-day, ‘Funereal’

‘Funereal’ is the first ever Western-English novel about Koreans living in modern-day South Korea. It’s literary fiction. It’s neon-noir. It’s a contemporary fable, and kind of ‘Korean Kafkaesque‘.

Story of Funereal
Soobin Shin is an aspiring young woman in Seoul. Ever since her college graduation, she has struggled to escape from her dead-end job in a doughnut chain. Her twin sister Hyewon is one of Korea’s most recognizable models, but Soobin just can’t seem to find her lucky break… until one evening, a creepy regular customer offers her a job in a company he has just started. OneLife Korea is going to save South Korea one funeral at a time… by burying the living in order to help them find some peace of mind in the country with the highest suicide rate in the developed world.

Soobin has already lost her mother, and her relationship with her boyfriend is on the rocks. What else does she have to lose? Everything at OneLife Korea seems perfect until high-profile clients actually start dying. Soobin Shin is Korea’s beautiful new angel of death, and Funereal is a snapshot of a city in flux, taking a look at the dark side to surgery, survival, and stardom in one of Asia’s most dynamic capitals.


An English novelist, Giacomo Lee

About the writer
An English novelist, Giacomo Lee hails from London, but has also lived in Italy and South Korea. His writing has been featured on Boing Boing, io9 and Shortlist, whilst short fiction of his can be found in Aspidistra, L’Allure Desmots and the New Asian Writing anthologies. He started writing this novel in 2011.

He had lived near Seoul last decade for a short while, and had always wanted to write a book about Korea. But he never had a good idea, until one day he read an article about Korea’s very real fake funeral industry, or ‘well dying’ services. Soon he started writing a book in England, a kind of black comedy regarding this topic in Korea. Then, a few years ago, he started to live in Seoul, and the book became more serious, and strange.

Visually, the book reminds him of neo-noir movies like Mulholland Drive, or Black Swan. Both of these films are surreal, and explore the dark side to stardom. There are many books and films about Dangerous Hollywood, so he wanted to write a very visual book about Dangerous Hallyu(Korean wave).

He was also often wondering when Seoul was going to get its own neon-lit, neo-noir novel. A ‘neon-noir’ novel. If LA, Las Vegas and Tokyo can get those kinds of books, then why not Seoul? It has neon lights, and it has a secret side. People are drawn to these kinds of stories.

As the novel, he hopes reveal a lot about the country, and shows how interesting Korean people are. The book can be enjoyed by people who are interested in Korea, but it has a universal theme about our lives today around the world. We are all working and trying to live in a strange new world, where humanity is becoming disconnected by urban life and technology. We want to find happiness, but instead we find easy, quick solutions that only make us happy for a short time.

There is also more information about me and my book’s reviews from Giacomo Lee’s official site: http://giacomolee.com/press/bio/ or http://giacomolee.com/press/reviews/

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