The new (Korean) wave: A global social mobility story please Look after Mom

Nancy Abelmann, Jeongsu Shin, Harry E. Preble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we examine Shin Kyung-Sook's international bestseller Please Look After Mom as a South Korean "New Wave" cultural product. We appreciate the novel as a very particular kind of culture drenched product - although not of the "traditional" variety. We take up both the Korean and English language discussions of the work's enormous success, which focus on both the book's particularistic and universalistic appeal. We argue instead for a cultural particularism and universalism of a different variety: not traditional Korean culture or the universal appeal of motherhood sentimentalism, but rather cosmopolitan striving. We examine the novel as an account of educational and maternal striving and consider its global popularity in that light.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-418
Number of pages20
JournalKorea Observer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Cultural proximity
  • Education
  • Korean wave
  • Literature
  • Motherhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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