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When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

When My Name Was Keoko (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Linda Sue Park, Norm Lee (Narrator), Jenny Ikeda (Narrator)

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73114112,799 (4.02)8
Title:When My Name Was Keoko
Authors:Linda Sue Park
Other authors:Norm Lee (Narrator), Jenny Ikeda (Narrator)
Info:Recorded Books (2003), Edition: Unabridged, Audio Cassette
Collections:5th-6th Grade Readers, 3rd-4th Grade Readers, Multicultural Books, International Books, Historical Fiction, Chapter Books, Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Japanese, Korea, WWII, family

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When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park (2002)


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In alternating perspectives, sister and brother Sun-hee and Tae-yul describe their experiences during Japan-occupied Korea and then WWII.
All Koreans have been required to learn to speak Japanese, write using kanji and even change their names to Japanese ones. They worry about their Uncle who published a resistance newspaper and was forced to disappear to save himself. They mentally try to reconcile Japanese atrocities with the Japanese friends they know and Korean friends who are chin-il-pa, or "friends of the Japanese." Eventually Tae-yul joins the Japanese army in an effort to protect his Uncle and the family. He volunteers for a kamikaze mission that is thwarted by weather but his family receives premature notification that he is dead. At story's end the family is reunited, minus Uncle who was last known to be in North Korea.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
I had mixed feelings about this book. I found it really confusing to follow since every other chapter switched viewpoints between Sun-hee and Tae-yul. This made the book feel disorganized and choppy; it did not flow well. I also thought the book had a pretty slow start and it was hard to get in to. Despite the confusion, I did learn a fair amount about Japanese and Korean culture and the relationship between the two during World War II. I did not find any circumstances to which I could relate to, which also made the book kind of boring for me. Honestly, I struggled to even finish the book. ( )
  LBundi1 | Dec 7, 2015 |
This book really makes you think about what would happen if your identity was taken from you. I found it to be very moving and eye-opening!
  emilyauer | Nov 17, 2015 |
Through this book, Linda Park tells a tale of the unity, faith, and love shared within a Korean family under Japanese control during World War Two. Keoko, or Sun-hee, and Nobuo, or Tae-yul’s uncle could not stand to simply watch the Japanese take control of his beloved country and joins the Resistance. Due to the increased pressure on their family, Tae-yul, the family’s first born and only son, joins the imperial army, Korea’s enemy at the time, to lift the family’s burdens cast by the Japanese. His family continues to believe in their son/brother, despite his actions, which is evident throughout the story. For instance, when analyzing her brother’s letter, Keoko thinks, “And I was sure that the last paragraph contained his thoughts clear and undisguised. Including the way he’d signed it, without using his name. For he’d have had to use his Japanese name – Kaneyama Nobuo, instead of Kim Tae-yul.” The tale also teaches readers to find their identity in their heritage and be proud of their culture, a heartfelt encouragement for many foreigners around the world. By portraying a family that is so passionate about their history, traditions, language, and culture, Linda Sue Park encourages her readers all over the world to accept their ethnic roots and take pride in their history and identity. ( )
  Amy_Ko | Nov 11, 2015 |
When My Name was Keoko Historical Fiction
By Linda Sue Park

“When My Name was Keoko” is a historical fiction children’s chapter book that takes place when the Japanese took over Korea during World War II. In Korea the Japanese forbid citizens to fly their flag and even force them to take Japanese names. Park tells the story of a family who struggles during the war. The Kim Family includes a ten-year-old daughter name Sun-hee and a thirteen-year-old son named Tae-yul. Throughout “When My Name was Keoko”, Park switches back and forth between Sun-hee and Tae-yul narrating their perspective of the story. For example, in one chapter if Sun-hee is asking a lot of questions she may say that she is curious even though it is not her business because she is not a man in the house. In the next chapter, Tae-yul may complain that Sun-hee asks too many questions that do not concern her because she is a girl. I think this was a good method to attempt to keep readers attention without confusing them too much. Despite the two narrators, I still found “When My Name was Keoko” to be a slow paced book overall and found it difficult to sit down and read for a long sitting. I thought the best part was when Tae-yul enlists to save his uncle. This is incredibly brave of such a young teenage boy. This really exemplifies the bond Korean families have and courage of the Koreans during the war. Overall, I am giving “When My Name was Keoko” 3 stars because I thought it was a slow read and somewhat difficult to connect to the characters. On the other hand. “When My Name Was Keoko” taught about the freedom of speech, Korean culture and families, and times during World War II. Despite being oppressed, Uncle still fought for his freedom of speech, Tae-yul made a great sacrifice for his uncle, and Keoko struggled watching her family struggle though dangerous wartimes. ( )
  LBurro2 | Nov 3, 2015 |
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To my children: Sean and Anna

and for my parents:
Eung Won/Nobuo/Ed
Joung Sook/Keoko/Susie
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"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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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