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When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

When My Name Was Keoko (2002)

by Linda Sue Park

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I enjoyed the book, When My Name Was Keoko, by Linda Sue Park. The big idea in this story was the hardships that the Koreans faced during the start of World War 2. I liked the way the author took the reader through the sequence of events from the Koreans giving up their names and customs through the Koreans gaining back their freedom. Keoko was actually the Japanese name that was chosen when the Emperor decided that the Koreans would not practice their traditions or use Korean names. Keoko’s name was Sun-hee. I also liked the way that the author brought back to the symbolism of the Rose of Sharon tree. The tree was planted in the beginning of the story, but being a traditional Korean tree, the Japanese announced that it must be destroyed. The tree was hidden and replanted at the end of the story, symbolizing the freedom and traditions that were put back in place for the Koreans. ( )
  JenniferEckley | Oct 14, 2014 |
It is 1941 and the Japan has occuppied the Korean peninsula for the past 30 years. Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul struggle to uphold their Korean heritage, while appeasing their Japanese occupiers. It's a constant struggle against their increasingly ruthless invaders whose war is tearing apart the continent.
A vast cultural history is packed into this short novel about Korean and the end of the Japanese occupation. The narrative feels mostly natural, as the characters grapple with the issues of patriotism, different gender roles, and surviving a war they want no part of. Interwoven with tidbits of facts, this is a good introduction to the complicated reality of war. The writing is suitable for Grade 4 and up, although they might struggle to understand some of the Korean cultural references. ( )
  queenoftheshelf | Oct 8, 2014 |
In my opinion, I thought that this was a fantastic book. First, I liked how the author wrote in the perspective of Sun-hee and her brother, Tae-yul. It was interesting to see the two sides of the same story. For example, Sun-hee loved to study Kanji because, in her eyes, it was so interesting to learn. She felt that each written character was like telling a story. Tae-yul, on the other hand, disliked the subject and did not find what about it intrigued his little sister so much. I also learned to love the overall plot of the story. It was interesting to learn about this side of World War II that I was not as familiar with. In addition, I felt that the plot was exciting, suspenseful, and surprising at times. My favorite example of the story being really surprising was when Tae-yul had written the farewell note that was sent to his family which would have signified his death, only to be revealed later on in the book that he was still alive. It was interesting to read about his side of the story during his time as a pilot for the war effort. The big idea of this book is to inform readers of this point in history, and the various circumstances the Koreans had to face in response to the Japanese ruling. ( )
  GaiaGonzales | Oct 6, 2014 |
I did not connect with this book at all. I was not living during the war depicted nor have I had any experience remotely relating to this book. The first 50 pages were extremely slow and seemed to be the same sort of thing over and over again. For example, it kept repeating how the Japanese just kept taking items from the Koreans. I understand there was symbolism and that these types of things actually happened in our history, but the story line was slow and the way the characters kept jumping back and forth was annoying. Each chapter it was either the brother or the sister telling the story from their point of view and that did not intrigue me as much as it bothered me. I had a very hard time finishing this book. ( )
  abrozi1 | Oct 6, 2014 |
When I first started reading this book, I couldn't get into it and I thought I was going to have to force myself to read the whole thing. Once I got to page 70 something, it all turned around and I couldn't put it down. I really liked how the author switched view points between Tae-Yul and Sun-Hee. I thought this gave me different ways of seeing the story and the different things that they were thinking and going through. I also really liked the information that I got out of this book. Although I am twenty and have been going to school for so long, I feel as if I learned so much more from reading a children's book. I thought putting in the little quirks of their culture and family life really added to the feel of the book and it made me connect to the characters all that well. Another thing that I liked was how believable the characters were. I think that the big idea from this book was just to show a perspective of the war from a side that is rarely seen. ( )
  kelleemorcomb | Sep 30, 2014 |
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To my children: Sean and Anna

and for my parents:
Eung Won/Nobuo/Ed
Joung Sook/Keoko/Susie
First words
"It's only a rumor," Abuji said as I cleared the table.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440419441, Paperback)

Inspired by her own family's stories of living in South Korea during the Japanese occupation in the years preceding World War II, Newbery Medal-winning author Linda Sue Park chronicles the compelling story of two siblings, 10-year-old Sun-hee and 13-year-old Tae-yul, and their battle to maintain their identity and dignity during one of Korea's most difficult and turbulent times. In alternating first-person chapters, they relate their family's troubles under the strict fascist regime. The Kim family is stripped of their cultural symbols, only permitted to learn Japanese history and language, and forced to convert their names to Japanese. Sun-hee, now Keoko, struggles to reconcile her Korean home life with her Japanese school and friends, while Tae-yul, now Nobuo, attempts to convert his growing anger into a more positive passion for flight and airplanes. Both are worried for their uncle, whom they discover is printing an underground Korean resistance paper. When Sun-hee inadvertently puts her uncle's life in danger, she sets in motion a chain of events that results in her brother volunteering as a pilot for the Japanese near the end of WWII. While Sun-hee and her parents wait in breathless uncertainty to hear from Tae-yul, the war rushes to a close, leaving Korea's destiny hanging in the balance. This well-researched historical novel is accompanied by a thoughtful author's note that explains what happened to Korea and families like the Kims after WWII and a bibliography to entice interested young readers into learning more about a topic largely unknown to American audiences. (Ages 10 to 14) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:36 -0400)

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With national pride and occasional fear, a brother and sister face the increasingly oppressive occupation of Korea by Japan during World War II, which threatens to suppress Korean culture entirely.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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