A fascinating story of four young women in Seoul, South Korea. All are struggling in different ways under the heavy pressure of Korea: the impossible beauty standards, culture of extreme plastic surgery, and the difficult economy put them in precarious positions. Their friendships sustain each other as they try to navigate the cutthroat world of Seoul, including the secret “room salons” where women entertain wealthy men.
It was a little difficult to distinguish each of the women in the first few chapters, but their voices and stories eventually became distinct. This was an illuminating look at life in contemporary Seoul.
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Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul “room salon,” an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood. Kyuri’s roommate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the heir to one of the country’s biggest conglomerates.
Down the hall in their building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life. And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea’s brutal economy. Together, their stories tell a gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal, in which their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them.