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Banned Book Club

by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada (Author), Hyung-Ju Ko (Illustrator)

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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
For some reason, I’ve always gravitated toward graphic novel memoirs. So I may be biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed Kim Hyun Sook’s graphic novel about coming of age as a college student in early 1980s South Korea. I was woefully uninformed about the authoritarian regime there in those days and its history before and after, so part of what made it compelling was learning an important history I didn’t know. And, of course, it couldn’t be more timely. I finished this a day before Barr’s secret police started kidnapping people in Portland, so learning about this latest abuse of power was especially eerie given what I’d just read in Banned Book Club. Of course, the graphic novel isn’t just history or current events. The characters are really well fleshed out, and their personal stories are as gripping as the background of government repression and police abuse and torture. And, ultimately it’s a hopeful story. Things change, but people have to fight for that change, and fight to keep it. ( )
  alexlubertozzi | May 24, 2021 |
Fantastic, it just made me want to fight against the government even harder ( )
  megwatrin | Mar 11, 2021 |
Banned Book Club (written by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada, illustrated by Ko Hyung-Ju) is a manhwa-style story of the underground democracy movement in South Korea in the 1980s. It appears to be a somewhat dramatized account of author Kim Hyun Sook’s university days (the story is set at the fictional Anjeon University and the other characters are acknowledged to be historical composites), wherein the naïve English Literature student accidentally stumbles into the eponymous Banned Book Club, which distributes information the government would rather suppress.

It’s an overall solid story, particularly if you’re not familiar with South Korea’s authoritarian past (which, lasting well into the 1980s, is still shockingly recent), though it doesn’t go too deep into the weeds of South Korean politics or history.

A quick read, probably working best for a Young Adult audience. I think the story suffers by being a little too cutesy at time, with a lot of the action looking like it could’ve been borrowed from shōjo/shōnen anime. And while it makes for a nice bit of circular storytelling, it does seem a little unfair to implicitly equate Chun Doo-hwan and Park Geun-hye.

Still, a good book to beat about the heads of people who keep mindlessly repeating that Confucian culture is fundamentally deferential to authority (looking at you, anti-maskers). I’ve really come to like manhwa art, so strong in this book, which just comes across as so much clearer than most manga. And you just might get a bit of badly-needed information on the art of protest. ( )
  pvoberstein | Dec 14, 2020 |
The art and storytelling is clunky, but the importance of the topic carries the day for me. I do love me a triumph over censorship story.

I have reservations about the veracity of this book as the marketing seems to present it as a memoir. I dislike that the back cover says that this is a "dramatic true story" while the text buried at the back of the book says the writers took "ingredients" of true stories and "sliced, diced, and blended them into one narrative starring a handful of amalgamated characters at a fictional university." And I found it odd that one of the real people mentioned in the book is called "Noh Moo-hyun," when his expressed (and mostly respected) preference was that his name be written in English as "Roh Moo-hyun." ( )
  villemezbrown | Jun 10, 2020 |
What a lovely way to experience history. This book takes multiple real life stories to give the reader a fictionalized “true” version of the protests in 1983 lead by college students. Most of it is the story of the author, but for privacy reason has changed many names and consolidated some stories.

It all starts with the government banning certain literature. Particularly Western literature. Kim wants to read these stories. She wants to study literature. But her mother is not happy. She should be working and finding a husband. If anyone is going to go to school it should be her brother. But with help from dad, Kim goes to classes, and learns about things outside her little home world. While she loves to read she never realized that people could be thrown in jail for what they read. And for what they right. No one pressures her to join any resistance movement, they just say “hey why don’t you read what those in power don’t want us to read”. It’s eye opening. And while trying to stay neutral, she actually ends up joining protests, and helping lead more people to this literature that the government says is bad for people.

I have to give snaps to the author for the ending. We never get a clear picture of what all happen. We follow Kim though her getting involved, and then jump to 2017 where she reunites with her friends in modern protest for their land and their government. The reader gets snippets of what the characters when through, like jail time, being teachers, evening staying involved in politics to make their world a better place.

Overall I really enjoyed this story and learned quite a bit. There are parts that are a bit confusing, but I think that is from taking a long and varied history and converting it to graphic novel form. I think this book isn’t only interesting to read, but to discuss. I think it should appear on banned book lists, even if it itself has not been banned. It opens up a wider discussion on why people and governments police what others read.

#BBRC #AuthenticVoice
#ReaderHarder #journalism
#GondorGirlGNChallenge. ( )
  LibrarianRyan | Sep 10, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Hyun Sookprimary authorall editionscalculated
Estrada, RyanAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Ko, Hyung-JuIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to father, friend, and fancy-steak innovator Kim Donghae. (1937-2018)
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South Korea, 1983
Why can't you just stop complaining and be happy with what you've got?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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