Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun. Translated by Janet Hong

Published: 2021. First published in Korean 2019. 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Head of Zeus 3. Girl image. [Public Domain] via Pixnio

Kim Hae-on, a high school student, is found dead in a park in Seoul in 2002. Suspected of murdering her is classmate Han Manu. He had seen Hae-on in a car with Shin Jeongjun, another classmate who is also a suspect. Da-on, Hae-on’s younger sister is traumatised by the death, and after many years seeks to find the truth.

“In her yellow dress, with the reddish sun spilling out from behind her, she appeared like the bright centre of a giant flame.”

This is not generic detective fiction, although the first chapter detailing a police interrogation might indicate that it is. “It’s far more thoughtful than a simple murder mystery.” (Chicago Review of Books) There are three different perspectives, and with brilliant writing, the author gives each a distinct voice. Asian Review of Books calls the book “a work of art”.


“Her plastic surgery made her look like her sister, but something was off. In fact, she looked like an older, ruined Hae-on, who had been rejuvenated by force, a cross between the real Hae-on and a ravaged Hae-on. Where had the old Da-on gone?”

“At last a door that had been shut for a long time was opening, and radiant light came flooding in. And so began the revenge of the yellow angel. Lemon, I muttered. Like a chant of revenge, I muttered: Lemon, lemon, lemon.”

Author: Kwon Yeo-Sun

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