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The World Called ChildrenKim So-young

“I can tie it now. Grownups can do it fast, but kids take longer. That’s the only difference” (p.18).

『The World Called Children』

Author : Kim So-young
Publisher : Sakyejul
Publication date : November 16, 2020
Number of pages : 260
Format : 130x205mm
ISBN : 9791160946918

Kim So-young

Kim So-young is a reading education expert who has lectured at libraries, publishing companies and various other organizations. She is the author of How to Read Children’s Books (UU Press).

The World of Small Grownups


One learns many things living with a child. That they have numerous thoughts, just like grownups. That each child has multiple sides to their personality. And that they experience the world as human beings. In the process, they feel complex and dynamic emotions. All these things I did not realize before having a child. In that sense, the person I was before giving birth and raising a child is completely different than the one I became afterward.

Of course, I do not think that everyone should have children, nor do I agree with the belief that a woman experiences true adulthood only after giving birth. But, in my particular case, it is true that spending time with a child has broadened my understanding of what it means to be a human being. These thoughts solidified more while reading Kim So-young’s The World Called Children. Whether or not we have children, learning about them as an entity unto themselves broadens our perceptions of the world. That journey makes us see that humans defy fixed, fragmented definitions, and neither absolute good, nor absolute evil can be attributed to us. We also learn that the world contains many who are underprivileged.

Kim So-young — a former children’s book editor, who now runs a children’s book club — shares insights based on her experiences of teaching and dealing with children. Her book The World Called Children is a far cry from the how-to parenting manual that is replete with one-sided generalizations of special traits that children possess. It addresses how we can view them person to person as “little grownups” and redefine our coexistence as equals.

The core virtue of this book lies in her warm, unbiased perspective. This is the lens through which she tells various fun incidents involving children that bring a constant smile to readers’ lips. Children for her are not objects to bestow generosity or compassion upon. She does not pigeonhole them using lovely, angelic or other one-dimensional qualifiers. She sees them as “little grownups” who are capable of returning respect when they have received it. She believes that the more children we have who encounter adults showing them much patience and empathy, the better our society will become. She maintains this kind of firm respect for children throughout her narrative.

It occurred to me that the world can be an overly harsh place for children at times, because the grownups have had little experience of being valued and treated with respect. The periodic debate over no-kids zones and resentment over school zone speed limits may stem from unhealed childhood wounds that adults still have tucked away in their hearts. In that respect, this book brings understanding to children who are little grownups and comfort to adults who are big children. That’s probably why I teared up many times while reading the book.

After I finished reading the book, I poked my head through the door of my child’s room because something was troubling me. I was feeling awful for having yelled at my kid a few hours before for not going to sleep at such a late hour. In the darkness of the room, I could see him lying on the bed on his side. I hugged his small shoulders and whispered, “I’m sorry. I’m human and I make mistakes sometimes, even when I know better. I’m really sorry, honey.” Then he replied, “It’s okay, Mom. Even when you’re mad, I know you love me with all your heart. So it’s okay. I always love you, too.” I held back the tears as I heard these words. Yes, I think it’s true that children are little grownups and we grownups are big children.


By Han Seung-hye

Translated by