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“When My Name Was Keoko"

Published: 
Sunday, March 11, 2012

 

A story of life in Korea during World War II. Sun-hee and her brother, Tae-yul have always known life under Japanese rule. They are forbidden to speak their native Korean tongue except in the privacy of their home, and the Korean flag is not to be mentioned at any time. Everyone is forced to speak and write Japanese. Korean’s cannot even own businesses or be in charge of anything. They must always be preceded by the Japanese. Sun-hee and Tae-yul both live with their father, mother and uncle. The day has come where they must relinquish their Korean names and adopt new Japanese ones. Even though they have suffered the stifling of their culture as long as they can remember, this new injustice changes things. They now become Keoko and Nobuo respectively. 
 
Their uncle has been accused of being a traitor against the Japanese and as war draws closer to Korea, soldiers prepare by raiding houses, seizing all food supplies and also in search of their uncle. Sun-hee’s best friend is Japanese and becomes heart-broken when he isn't allowed to play with her anymore. Tae-yul feels his only way to save his family from poverty and starvation is to join the Imperial Army. An exciting story of pride, pain and history, Linda Sue Park paints a vivid picture for the mind’s eye of a young girl and her brother’s perspective of wartime in Korea. Both accounts beautifully entwine to bring this fantastic story to life. I dare you to put this book down.
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