5. Hurray to Barley Rice (꽁보리밥 만세) by Cho Gyu-Ik (조규익) (Age 15)
Hurray to Barley Rice is a collection of essays by Prof. Cho Gyu-Ik, who happened to be my father's friend. This book is not well-known at all; in fact, I would be surprised if there are more than 50 people in the world who read this book. I only read it because it was given to me for free from Prof. Cho himself.
But I loved this book. The essays are honest and humorous illustrations of Prof. Cho's childhood and everyday life. Although my parents experienced dire poverty growing up as did every Korean in their generation, they hardly ever talked about their childhood and just how different Korea was back then. When I read the witty but poignant discussions of how young Prof. Cho would deal with hunger while waiting for the barley crop to grow and mature, I gained a new perspective on Korea, and on my parents.
A Korean's 10 most influential books, courtesy MR, at Ask A Korean.