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When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

When My Name Was Keoko (original 2002; edition 2012)

by Linda Sue Park (Author)

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1,07420314,339 (4.04)11
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.
Title:When My Name Was Keoko
Authors:Linda Sue Park (Author)
Info:HMH Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: Reprint, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

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


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This book introduces us to the Japanese occupation of Korea by telling the stories of Sun-Hee and her older brother Tae-Yul, Korean schoolkids who are growing up in their ow occupied country. Father is a school teacher, mother is a housewife, and their beloved uncle is a newspaper printer with a poorly hidden revolutionary streak. As the siblings grow up, the Japanese close their fist ever tighter around Korea, going so far as to change the family’s Korean names to Japanese ones. Then WWII breaks out, and the family find themselves making difficult decisions that will change not only their home but the future of their country. ⠀
While reading this there were things–the theft of names and language, enforced systematic inequality, the power of community conspiracy, and the need to fake subservience while revolution bubbles and smokes in your heart–that resonated very strongly with stories from my own Black American background. Other things were wholly new to me and I found the final act of the story equal parts surprising, fascinating and, well…incredibly cheesy. Whatever, it’s a kid’s book so it gets a pass. Overall, it’s a well-written, sympathetic and enlightening read.
(For an in-depth review, visit my blog at https://equalopportunityreader.com/2020/05/13/when-my-name-was-keoko-by-linda-su... ) ( )
  EQReader | Dec 1, 2020 |
This book was a fantastic read because of the perspective that takes place. At first this book is confusing because it is switching between characters (Sun-Hee and Tae-Yul). The plot of the story always keeps you on your toes considering the time period takes place in WWII. The book takes the reader through the cultural oppression of Korea and the challenges they face throughout the years. I liked this book because it gave me a large cultural perspective of both the Koreans and Japanese. ( )
  dbaldy1 | Mar 3, 2020 |
A wonderful book, When My Name Was Keoko, was published in 2002 and was written by Linda Sue Park. It is an Asian historical fiction book published under Clarion Books. This story is about a boy and girl growing up in Korea during World War II when it was under Japanese force. It would be suitable for students in middle school, but I also enjoyed this book in college. Typically I do not read a lot of historical fiction novels like this one, but I really liked the writing style and use of point of view. The writing style, although a bit slow paced, held my attention and was organized well. The dual point of view switched between characters Sun-hee and Tae-yul. Reading their stories from their point of view was powerful that it made me tear up a few times. They face harsh law changes imposed by the Japanese, such as having to change their names to Japanese names and burning their national tree. It was so interesting to learn about this part of history. I connected it to a show I watch, but now I have even more knowledge to understand the Korean history and underlying meaning behind some of the things we see in the media. It also helped me learn more about what exactly happened during this part in World War II. It would be fun to use this book in the classroom.
  chelleruiz6 | Mar 3, 2020 |
“If words weren’t important, they wouldn’t try so hard to take them away” (pg. 107). When My Name Was Keoko has a strong central theme of loss: names, traditions, language, family. Everything has been taken away except for the words shared between those who believed in them. Secret messages, letters, and even thoughts slipped through the cracks and played a part in Sun-hee and Tae-yul’s lives during the Japanese occupation of Korea. With loss there was also the survival of little things such as the rose of Sharon tree and the dragon brooch, small pieces of hope when it seemed as though the loss was far too great. The point of view changed between the siblings constantly. However, the changing point of view was done when necessary in order to further emphasis the different perspectives that could be held in the same family and the importance of their overlap. At the beginning, the shift was confusing, as it was unexpected to me. ( )
  sfyock1 | Mar 3, 2020 |
I really enjoyed reading this book. I did not know a lot about how World War II affected Korea and Japan, so I was very interested in learning more about those two countries and the effect of the war on both of them. The two different point of views, Tae-yul and Sun-hee, really gives the reader the opportunity to see the differences in being a girl and being a boy during that time. This book has a lot of emotion. Park's use of description helps the reader understand and resonate with what the characters are going through. On page 138, Park writes "I'm surprised by the lump in my throat." When reading that I could imagine what the character, Tae-yul, was feeling and how he was experiencing conflicting emotions. There was a lot of conflict throughout the plot, whether it was war-related or something the characters were battling within themselves. With this conflict came the desire for a solution from the reader. I had a hard time putting the book down because of this. This book pushes readers to think about how life was back then and how desperate these people were for freedom and for the war to end. I really enjoyed the different point of views, it helped me as a reader understand certain concepts since they were presented by two different characters. The differences between men and women were clear to see along with other cultural traditions. The message I took away after reading this book was that cultural revival is a possibility no matter the circumstances. Although the Koreans were being forced to abandon their culture and adapt to the way of the Japanese, the use of memories and traditions helped to keep their culture alive during this hard time. This book is about family, culture, and the fight to live. ( )
  cerrig1 | Mar 2, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Linda Sue Parkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ikeda, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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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