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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 really enjoyed this story and was very engaged from the start. I really enjoyed the authenticity that this novel had regarding the languages and how the family had to conform. Keoko had talked about how Kanji told a story when you wrote it and read it. This book discusses a tough issue that occurred in Eastern Asia many years ago. I think the child’s point of view for most of the story is interesting because for a while, you did not really know what was going on, but you were able to keep reading and find out. In addition, I think switching points of view between Tae-yul and Sun-hee allowed for the reader to process things more easily and this aspect hooks the reader and keeps them engaged. The characters were well developed and the father was very poised. It was interesting to see how calm a character can be when they are placed in the middle of a power struggle. Finally, the uncle shows a rebellious character that readers always love to experience. The uncle is a very strong character and tries to expose the Japanese and how dangerous they were. Overall, this book was authentic and engaging while also being very educational. ( )
  kriley5 | May 10, 2015 |
When My Name Was Keoko was a wonderful book. The main message of this story was to always remember your culture no matter who tries to take it away from you and that family is everything. I enjoyed the way the plot was portrayed from two different main characters point of view. It was from Sun-hee, or Keoko’s point of view, and her brother, Tae-Yul, I also liked the language used. Even though the Japanese was trying to rid all the Koreans of their heritage and culture, Sun-hee’s uncle made sure they never forgot by giving them Japanese names, but making the names have significant meaning to the family. Finally, I liked the vocabulary that the author used to create imagery. There might not have been illustrations in the book, but the way the author describes the Sharon Tree, or the trip Sun-hee takes to her uncle’s printing shop in vivid detail allows the reader to use their imagination to create their own picture. ( )
  AliciaTrotman | May 10, 2015 |
When my name was Keoko was about what a Korean family had to go through during the Japanese rule. The Japanese made them speak only in Japanese, made them change their names, and everything that was a part of their Korean culture was prohibited. This book was not one of my favorites. I did not dislike it, but there was one main reason I liked this book. The author told the story from different characters’ perspectives. One character, Sun-hee told from her perspective about how she could not believe that her people would ever fight for and defend the Japanese army. On the other hand, it told from another character’s perspective, her brother Tae-yul, and he enlisted in the army thinking he would help protect his uncle. The author’s was of portraying different perspectives in the story allowed the reader to understand each character’s role in the story. I believe the big idea of this book was family and culture. These people valued their culture and it hurt when all of that was taken away from them. ( )
  JeNeeH | May 5, 2015 |
This was not one of my favorite books I have ever read. I think that I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, which made it hard for me to really get into the book. The book goes back and forth between Keoko and her brother’s point of view. In the beginning they start out with their original Korean names. When they are forced by the Japanese government to change their names the story got confusing for me. I had a hard time keeping track of who was talking throughout the entire story. This confusion really made it difficult for me to become invested into the story because I could barely keep the characters straight.
I also do not have much knowledge on the issues that were between Japan and Korea. While the book gave some of the background information I wasn’t always sure why certain events were going on in the book. For example at one point in the book they are asked to all come outside of their houses when they hear a siren. I was confused as to why they had to come outside for community checks. I believe if I were to have more knowledge about the issues between the two countries before reading the book I would have been able to focus more on the plot and less on trying to figure out why the plot was unfolding the way that it did.
The overall message of the book was a good one. It was to stay strong through tough situations and to never lose who you truly are. Everyone is different and that is okay. ( )
  Khammersla | May 5, 2015 |
When My Name Was Keoko is a very powerful book that i really enjoyed reading. I liked this book for it insight on Korean life as well as its historical insight. Although throughout the book the people of Korea are being persecuted by the Japanese, you still get an insight of Korean life at that time period as well as culturally. For example, throughout the book the author uses the word Hynungnim which is a term for respect when talking to/about an older brother. Using these terms gives the reader a look at the respect and rank that is prominent is Korean family life. I also enjoyed the historical aspects of this book. The entire story takes place during WWII which is hard for someone in our time to relate to. However, since the story is told from the point of view of Kim, a child, the reader can relate to the book better. For example, Kim describes how Japanese was being taught in school during Japanese occupation. I was able to relate to this because I also had to learn another language at a young age. Although my situation was different than the war torn one Kim was in, i was still able to slightly relate. The main idea of this book is identity. ( )
  pduste1 | Apr 27, 2015 |
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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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