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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 like this book for two reasons. One reason I like this book is because you here the story from two points of view. All the odd chapters tell the story from the sister’s, Su-hee, perspective, and the even chapters tell the story from the brother’s, Tae-yul, perspective. For example, when the siblings talk about the night the Japanese soldiers raid their house, you get two different character’s points of view of the event. Tae-yul’s perspective is “He hands the diary to another soldier and makes a brusque gesture. The soldier takes the diary in the kitchen and throws it into the stove. Su-hee takes one step forward. I pull her back… Those soldiers tonight, tearing apart our house. And me? I’d stood there frozen. I’d hadn’t done anything- I’d hadn’t even said anything… I know now. What could he have done. What could any of us do?” This quote shows how Tae-yul felt helpless about not being able to do anything in this situation. Su-hee’s perspective of the situation was this. “When the officer asked, “whose scribbles were these?”, I’d answered at once. And right at that moment, I hadn’t felt afraid. I’d felt proud- proud that those were my words on the page he was holding. Now, all of the words I’d written for so many months were lost. My thoughts and feelings- they were a part of me, and it was as if that part of me were burned up in the stove too.” Seeing the story from two perspectives made the event that happened in the book even more interesting because even though both characters shared similar experiences of hopelessness, you saw how the event directly or indirectly affected them.
Another reason I liked this book was the theme of the story. The theme strongly emphasized the loyalty to one’s country and that independence is worth fighting for. For example, in the story when Uncle shows Tae-yul and Su-hee the flag of Korea, he says, “Each has three parts, and each part represents a different cycle. The seasons: summer, autumn, winter, spring… the directions: south, west, north, east… The universe: sky, moon, earth, sun.” This quote illustrates the importance of knowing what the Korean flag symbolizes because it is part of their culture and the pride of their culture. He encourages his niece and nephew to never forget the flag as a way of rebellion against the Japanese. If you remember your culture, you will never be completely bound by those who rule over you. ( )
  ShelbyPlitt | Apr 14, 2017 |
There were a few reasons why I liked this book and few reasons why I had mixed feelings One of the reasons I liked this book was because of the setting and the main plot. It showed the tough reality of living in this time and the oppression the people faced. I thought the text level was appropriate for young readers, but I thought the plot could be a little too deep for some children to read in school. I think it is a good thing for readers to learn that not everyone has the freedom we do and that countries go through oppression, but at the same time I think was pretty deep. Another thing that I sort of touched on above was I liked the language. It was written very well for the young reader and was very descriptive and clear for someone to understand. One of my favorite quptes through out the book was, “You burn the paper, but not the words. You silence the words, but not the thoughts. You kill the thoughts only if you kill the man. And you will find that his thoughts rise again in the minds of others twice as strong as before.” I just thought this was so powerful and descriptive about the people fighting in the book. They knew their voices would be heard at some point because you cant kill thoughts.
I also thought the characters were so convincing through out the story. For a historical fiction to be a goo done the characters and the setting have to be very convincing and I think the author did just that. Sun-hee is so courageous and brave through out the story and wants to stand against the oppression and fight for herself (even though she is a girl). She never doubts her abilities to change what is happening to her and her people. I liked watching her grow through out the whole story. ( )
  hpetti1 | Apr 10, 2017 |
Sun-hee and her brother Tae-yul live in Korea under Japanese occupation. Forced to suppress their Korean heritage, they adopt the names Keoko and Nobuo. When the World War II begins, Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army to protect their family, while Sun-hee stays home to guard their family secrets.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Mar 10, 2017 |
I partially enjoyed this book. I found this story to be very intimate and personal. I enjoyed how this story was a look into the life of a displaced family during the Vietnam War. The imagery expressed within the text was very vivid and painted a clear picture within my mind. I especially enjoyed when the main character, Keoko, described the difference in the taste of the chicken that she was eating at the cowboys house, compared to what she was used to eating. I enjoyed how this book showed how, most, refugees feel when they come to a new country, afraid and insecure of their surroundings. I also liked how this book showed that no matter where you live in the world, you are likely to encounter stereotypes wherever you may go. The main point I am referencing, is when Keoko tells how she is excited to live with this cowboy, who must surely have a horse. I did not enjoy the style or the organization of this book. I found it dull to read the pages of a diary. I think if this book was styled in a more traditional fashion that I would have enjoyed it a little bit more than I did. ( )
  KMG2002 | Mar 5, 2017 |
The main message I got from the book is to be proud of your culture and heritage, even when others try to erase who you are. Two things I liked about the story had everything to do with who the narrators were. I've never been a huge fan of alternating narrators, because it makes it harder for me to follow the story. That being said, the book made a smart move in having two narrators. By having both a male and a female's voice, the reader can get a good grasp on how gender affected one's experiences during the Japanese occupation. It's good for children to get different perspectives to get a better understanding of the era by getting different points of view. The second thing I like about the narrators is the choice to pick children to be narrators. The students reading the book might have a harder time with an older character, because of how children and adults see the world differently. A younger student may not be able to find similarities between themselves and the adult. For instance, both Tae-Yul and Sun-Hee are in school, and the book focuses on their experience being in school. A student may be able to connect with Tae-Yul not being the best in his class, or Sun-Hee bein the best in her class. ( )
  jserin2 | Mar 3, 2017 |
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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.
Last words
(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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:36 -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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