Cheon Myeong-kwan is a South Korean novelist, screenwriter and director whose work has been translated into eight languages.

Upon publication of the author’s first story, Frank and I (2003), he received the prestigious Munhakdongne New Writer Award. Cheon’s debut novel, Whale, was published the following year. It won the 10th Munhakdongne Novel Award and has become one of the most loved novels in South Korea, where it is regarded as a modern classic.  

Cheon Myeong-kwan’s novel Whale was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023, announced on April 18 2023. 


Cheon Myeong-kwan

A carnivalesque fairy tale that celebrates independence and enterprise, a picaresque quest through Korea’s landscapes and history, Whale is a riot of a book. Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s vivid characters are foolish but wise, awful but endearing, and always irrepressible. This is a hymn to restlessness and self-transformation.

— The International Booker Prize 2023 panel of judges on 'Whale'

All nominated books