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When My Name Was Keoko
Cover of When My Name Was Keoko
When My Name Was Keoko
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Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them—even their names—are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee is surprised that the Japanese expect their Korean subjects to fight on their side. But the greatest shock of all comes when Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army in an attempt to protect Uncle, who is suspected of aiding the Korean resistance. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.

Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them—even their names—are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee is surprised that the Japanese expect their Korean subjects to fight on their side. But the greatest shock of all comes when Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army in an attempt to protect Uncle, who is suspected of aiding the Korean resistance. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.

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  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.6
  • Lexile:
    670
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
About the Author-
  • Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard, many other novels, several picture books, and most recently a book of poetry: Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family, and is now a devoted fan of the New York Mets. For more infromation visit www.lspark.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 19, 2004
    "A brother and sister alternate as narrators in this well-constructed novel, which takes place from 1940–1945 in Japanese-occupied Korea," wrote PW
    in a starred review. "Through the use of the shifting narrators, Park subtly points up the differences between male and female roles in Korean society and telling details provide a clear picture of the siblings and their world." Ages 10-up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2002
    Gr 6-9-Living in Korea in the 1940s was difficult because the Japanese, who occupied the country, seemed determined to obliterate Korean culture and to impose their own on its residents. Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, still go to school every day, but lessons now consist of lectures and recitations designed to glorify Japan. To add to their unhappiness, everyone, adults and children alike, must give up their Korean names and take new Japanese ones. Sun-hee, now called Keoko, and Tae-yul, newly named Nobuo, tell the story in alternating narrative voices. They describe the hardships their family is forced to face as Japan becomes enmeshed in World War II and detail their individual struggles to understand what is happening. Tension mounts as Uncle, working with the Korean resistance movement, goes into hiding, and Tae-yul takes a drastic step that he feels is necessary to protect the family. What is outstanding is the insight Park gives into the complex minds of these young people. Each of them reacts to the events in different ways-Sun-hee takes refuge in writing while Tae-yul throws his energies into physical work. Yet in both cases they develop subtle plans to resist the enemy. Like the Rose of Sharon tree, symbol of Korea, which the family pots and hides in their shed until their country is free, Sun-hee and Tae-yul endure and grow. This beautifully crafted and moving novel joins a small but growing body of literature, such as Haemi Balgassi's Peacebound Trains (Clarion, 1996) and Sook Nyul Choi's The Year of Impossible Goodbyes (Houghton, 1991), that expands readers' understanding of this period.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA

    Copyright 2002 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    March 1, 2002
    Gr. 5-9. Except for Sook Nyul Choi's "Year of Impossible Goodbyes" (1991), very little has been written for young people about the Japanese occupation of Korea. Park, who won the Newbery Medal this year for "A Single Shard," set in twelfth-century Korea, draws on her parents' experiences as well as extensive historical research for this story. The plot unfolds through the alternating first-person narratives of Sun-hee, who is 10 years old in 1940, and her older brother, Tae-yul. They lose their names and their language when they are forced to use Japanese at school and in public. The far-off war comes closer and hardship increases with brutal neighborhood roundups. Always there are secrets: Who's a traitor? Who's pretending to be a traitor? Sun-hee tries to help her uncle in the resistance, and she's overcome with guilt when she puts him in terrible danger. Tae-yul becomes a kamikaze pilot for the Japanese: he loves learning to fly, but his secret aim is to help the Americans. There's also family conflict, especially about the submissive role of a young girl: does she disobey her father for the good of her country? Why doesn't her father resist? The two young voices sound very much the same, and the historical background sometimes takes over the narrative. The drama is in the facts about the war, and Park does a fine job of showing how the politics of the occupation and resistance affect ordinary people. Be sure to check out Park's Writers and Readers column, "Staying on Past Canal Street: Reflections on Asian Identity," [BKL Ja 1 & 15 02]. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2002, American Library Association.)

  • DOGO Books rebeccafrosting - This story is about Sun-hee and her brother, Taeyul’s life when Japan took over Korea. It gets miserable and miserable. They hope the war goes shortly and be free. They can’t eat properly. They can’t learn Korean. They can’t do anything unless Japan let’s them.
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    HMH Books
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Linda Sue Park
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