The Mermaid from Jeju

The Mermaid from Jeju

In the tradition of Yangsze Choo's Night Tiger and Min Jin Lee's Pachinko comes a magical saga that explores what it really means to love.

In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh family's annual trip to Mt. Halla, where they trade abalone and other sea delicacies for pork. Junja, a sea village girl, has never been to the mountains, where it smells like mushrooms and earth, and it is there she falls in love with a mountain boy Yang Suwol, who rescues her after a particularly harrowing journey. But when Junja returns one day later, it is just in time to see her mother take her last breath, beaten by the waves during a dive she was taking in Junja's place.

Spiraling in grief, Junja sees her younger siblings sent to live with their estranged father, Suwol is gone, the ghost of her mother haunts their home--from the meticulously tended herb garden that has now begun to sprout weeds, to the field where their bed sheets are beaten. She has only her grandmother and herself. But the world moves on without Junja.

The political climate is perilous. Still reeling from Japan's forced withdrawal from the peninsula, Korea is forced to accommodate the rapid establishment of US troops, and her grandmother, who lived through the Japanese invasion that led to Korea's occupation understands the signs of danger all too well. When Suwol is arrested for working with and harboring communists, and the perils of post-WWII overtake her homelands, Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she's ever known.

Title:The Mermaid from Jeju
Edition Language:English
ISBN:null
Format Type:

    The Mermaid from Jeju Reviews

  • Jessica | JustReadingJess

    I loved how unique The Mermaid from Jeju is. Junja is a very interesting and complex character. Hahn did a great job expressing Junja’s emotions. The past and present storylines were interesting. Th...

  • Desiree

    Simply stated: The Mermaid from Jeju is down-right magical book. Set part in present day America and part in postwar Korea, it is equal parts history lesson and fairy tale. Beautifully rendered, with ...

  • Sara

    What a journey this book was! This is the story of Junja, a haenyeo (an elite group of female deep sea divers) who lives on the Korean island of Jeju. It has a little of everything - action, suspense,...

  • Kelly

    2.5 starsThe first time I saw this beautiful cover on Goodreads, I was instantly curious about this book and when I saw the audiobook on Netgalley, I knew it was the perfect chance to find out what th...

  • Brooke || FindingMyFavoriteBook

    What a magical post WWII story of bravery, love, loss, and redemption, set among the beautiful landscape of Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea during a very tumultuous time in Jeju’s history. ...

  • Alexanderia

    This book had me from beginning to end. The middle and end had me holding my breath and on the edge of my seat. I learned not only some new Korean terms, thanks to the definitions at the back of the b...

  • Alissa Middendorf

    This riveting, heartfelt tale captures a history often left out of western history books - Korea 1948. Though this is a tale about a mermaid from Jeju, it is not solely focused on the the haeneyo or J...

  • Megan Rivera

    This was a great book that mixes war with mermaids. Wondering if a mermaid can fall in love with a human. It was interesting to see how Goh Junja and Yang Suwol relationship unfold in this story. ...

  • Maureen Caupp

    Thank you to Sumi Hahn, the publisher and Edelweiss + for a copy of this book.A wonderfully told story filled with both the beauty and harshness of the traditional way of life on Jeju Island in the fi...

  • beth ? blissandbooks

    This story was so beautiful, set on the Korean island of Jeju during the Japanese and American occupation in the 1940’s. I loved the atmospheric prose and the magical realism aspects of this one. I ...