Lemon, by Kwon Yeo-Sun
15 October 2021
It is 2002 and Korea is in the frenzied grip of the football World Cup, an event the nation is co-hosting with Japan. At the same time, Kim Hae-on, a nineteen year old student, was murdered in a crime that became known as the “high school beauty murder.” On the day of her death she wore a yellow dress, from which the name for Lemon (published by Penguin Random House, October 2021), Korean author Kwon Yeo-Sun’s novel, derives.
The story traces the seventeen years following the unsolved murder, as a grief-stricken Da-on, Hae-on’s younger sister, struggles to move ahead with her life. The story also explores the perspective of two of Hae-on’s classmates, the fiancée of one of the suspects, and back to Da-on many years later, as she visits a food delivery driver, the last person to see Hae-on alive, himself also a suspect in the killing.
Although billed as a crime thriller, Lemon is more a meditation of trauma, loss and grief, and the impact of a single devastating moment that changed the lives of those close to Hae-on. But as the story progresses, it gradually becomes apparent Hae-on’s murder wasn’t the only crime committed…