South Korea's Han Kang wins Man Booker International Prize

London (AFP) –


South Korean author Han Kang won the Man Booker International Prize on Monday, sharing the £50,000 ($72,000, 63,500 euros) award with her translator -- who had only taught herself Korean three years before.

Han Kang, 45, an author and creative writing teacher who is already successful in South Korea, is likely to enjoy a spike in international sales following the win for "The Vegetarian".

"I'm so honoured" she told AFP. "The work features a protagonist who wants to become a plant, and to leave the human race to save herself from the dark side human nature.

"Through this extreme narrative I felt I could question... the difficult question of being human."

Described as "lyrical and lacerating" by chairman of the judges Boyd Tonkin, the tale traces the story of an ordinary woman's rejection of convention from three different perspectives.

It was picked unanimously by the panel of five judges, beating six other novels including "The Story of the Lost Child" by Italian sensation Elena Ferrante and "A Strangeness in My Mind" by Turkey's Orhan Pamuk.

"This is a book of tenderness and terror," Boyd told guests at the award ceremony dinner at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

For the first time this year, the award went jointly to the translator, Deborah Smith, 28, who spoke only English until she was 21 and only started learning Korean three years before she embarked on the translation.

The international edition of Britain's Man Booker Prize has been awarded every two years since 2005 for a body of work to a living author whose work was written or available in English.

But from this year, it will be an annual award granted for a single work of fiction that has been translated into English and published in Britain.

Once the poor relation in the English-language literary world, translations are becoming increasingly popular.