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Sad Peninsula

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  44 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A Canadian ex-pat and a Korean former "comfort woman," each scarred by their pasts, seek redemption.

Two separate lives become connected in South Korea: traumatized former Korean "comfort woman" Eun-young, who struggles with her past of rape and violence; and Michael, a troubled young Canadian arriving in Korea to teach ESL, whose principles and humanity are tested by Seou
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 6th 2014 by Dundurn (first published January 1st 2014)
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  44 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Rebecca Rosenblum
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I truly believe this is an exceptional, complex, moving, intelligent and sometimes very funny book. But I'm also married to the author so, just you know, fyi...
3.5 stars
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
** I received an advance copy of this title in exchange for a fair review **

Two tales of Korea run parallel in this book - Eun-young's life as a comfort woman in WWII, and Michael, a Canadian ex-pat teaching English to schoolchildren. Eun-young's sections were evidently well-researched and the writing fluid and beautiful, even when describing atrocities. I couldn't wait to get on to the next of her chapters!

Michael's sections felt more uneven, and while there were interesting characters and idea
Lee Thompson
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This powerful and accomplished novel from Mark Sampson tells the harrowing story of Eun-Young, a Japanese comfort woman, snatched from her home in Korea during the Second World War and forced to endure years of abuse at the hands of her Japanese captors. Alongside her story runs a second narrative concerning young Canadian Michael, a disgraced journalist who goes to Korea to teach English and make sense of his own shameful past. The two stories intersect when Michael meets a Korean woman Jin, wh ...more
Michael Bryson
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by:
Shelves: novels
I participated in a literary reading series in 2010, and Mark read from his manuscript in progress, which later became Sad Peninsula (Dundurn, 2014).

It was impressive in progress, and it remains impressive in final form.

The sad peninsula is Korea, and the story cleverly riffs on John Donne's famous line, "No man is an island," noting on a peninsula you are always connected to something larger.

Connection and its challenges is a theme deeply engrained in the two main stories that alternate chapter
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Mark Sampson’s novel Sad Peninsula is a painful read, not because of any failings on his part, but because of the subject the novel deals with: rape and sexual violence. The chapters alternate between past and present. In the past, we follow the story of a Korean girl, Eun-young, abducted by the Japanese to serve as a “comfort woman” during World War II. In the present we move among the community of expatriate ESL teachers in Korea. Within this (primarily male) community status is accorded based ...more
Maria Meindl
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
In Sad Peninsula Mark Sampson interweaves the stories of a Korean “comfort woman” (the term for young girls who were kidnapped to act as sex slaves for the Japanese army during World War Two) and a Canadian expatriate living in Seoul to – in his own words – “sling English like hamburgers” and distance himself from a painful past.

The sense of place in this novel is unforgettable, and not just because of Sampson’s scrupulously unexpected images. (They are great, though; check this out: “You don’t
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, netgalley
Hard hitting.

This powerful novel has two fascinating stories to tell. The recent-time narrative relates the experiences of Michael, a teacher of English, who leaves Canada under a cloud, to work in Korea. He encounters a culture where sex is readily available, but at what cost to the young women who are offering themselves?
This is interspersed with the harrowing WWII story of Eun-Young, a Japanese comfort woman who was raped thirty to forty times each day, in order to keep the invading Japanese
Koom Kankesan
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Like the other book I've read by Sampson (The Secrets Men Keep), the style in this book is very down to earth and readable, which helps make the experience of the difficult subject matter a little easier to take. It's preoccupied with subject matter that is frankly horrendous and difficult to navigate, especially because both the narrator and writer are male. In some of the other reviews I've read on here, people have said that they'd have preferred Sampson not switch back and forth between the ...more
Kathleen McRae
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sad Peninsula is one of those difficult to read books because the subject matter is a trauma…..even reading it feels traumatic. It stuns me that we are still fighting, in this world to see women and particularly young women as something other than a victim to be victimized.The fight over whether women should have equal rights has been a long and vicious fight. It has been fought by an insanity that demonizes women as the cause of their own victimization. Many Korean " comfort women " endured fur ...more
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
An very emotional book that includes scenes of extreme violence and explicit rape scenes. There were times this book was very difficult to read, and more than once I considered not finishing it. Civilians victimized by war are always difficult to read about, but the ages of the girls and how they were tricked to be used by the enemy. Once you got past all the violence, there was a love story and some better endings than many of those involved could have hoped for and some sad endings.
Steven Buechler
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sampson has written a brilliant yet bittersweet novel here. He has basically two protagonists – Eun-young, a former Korean ‘comfort woman’ who is trying hard to come to terms with her past of rape and violence during World War II and Michael, a Canadian who arrives in Korea to teach English in 2003. Their paths cross through Jin, who is challenging the norms and mores around her as well as Michael’s morality.
Hi, Everyone! Please check out my interview with novelist Mark Sampson as we discuss comfort women and his latest novel, Sad Peninsula (Dundurn Books, 2014). Read the interview now on my TTQ Blog. http://thetorontoquarterly.blogspot.c...
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a great read loved this one it is a book that I'm would Be more than happy to read more than once.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
wow...great book. a piece of history I knew nothing about. incredible women.
Jamie Tennant
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Apr 23, 2017
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Jacqueline Pommier
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Jan 29, 2018
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Jan 30, 2016
Amber Zertuche
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Jun 24, 2015
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Sep 01, 2014
Josee Sigouin
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Feb 19, 2018
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Oct 05, 2014
Daniel Perry
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Aug 05, 2016
Margaret Bryant
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
wonderful contemporary and historical mix. Believable characters with neatly parallel stories.
Matt Randle
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Nov 01, 2014
Mahendra Singh Bagaria
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Apr 14, 2016
Emily Coolen
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Jan 18, 2016
Rebecca Carroll
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Jan 21, 2015
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Mark Sampson has published three novels, Off Book (Norwood Publishing, 2007), Sad Peninsula, (Dundurn Press, 2014), and The Slip, (Dundurn Press, 2017). He has also published a short story collection, The Secrets Men Keep (Now or Never Publishing, 2015), and a poetry collection, Weathervane, (Palimpsest Press, 2016). His new novel, All the Animals on Earth, is forthcoming from Wolsak & Wynn in ...more
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