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This true story of a Korean comfort woman documents how the atrocity of war devastates women’s lives

Grass is a powerful antiwar graphic novel, telling the life story of a Korean girl named Okseon Lee who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War—a disputed chapter in twentieth-century Asian history.

Beginning in Lee’s childhood, Grass shows the lead-up to the war from a child’s vulnerable perspective, detailing how one person experienced the Japanese occupation and the widespread suffering it entailed for ordinary Koreans. Keum Suk Gendry-Kim emphasizes Lee’s strength in overcoming the many forms of adversity she experienced. Grass is painted in a black ink that flows with lavish details of the beautiful fields and farmland of Korea and uses heavy brushwork on the somber interiors of Lee’s memories.

The cartoonist Gendry-Kim’s interviews with Lee become an integral part of Grass, forming the heart and architecture of this powerful nonfiction graphic novel and offering a holistic view of how Lee’s wartime suffering changed her. Grass is a landmark graphic novel that makes personal the desperate cost of war and the importance of peace.

480 pages, Paperback

First published August 14, 2017

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About the author

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim

29 books110 followers
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim was born in the town of Goheung in Jeolla Province, a town famous for its beautiful mountains and sea. Her graphic novels include The Song of My Father, Jiseul, and Kogaeyi, which have been translated and published in France. She also wrote and illustrated The Baby Hanyeo Okrang Goes to Dokdo, A Day with My Grandpa, and My Mother Kang Geumsun. She received the Best Creative Manhwa Award for her short manhwa “Sister Mija,” about a comfort woman. She has had exhibitions of her works in Korea and Europe since 2012, and her graphic novels and manhwa deal mostly with people who are outcasts or marginalized.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,178 reviews
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
776 reviews5,367 followers
April 12, 2022
I have found graphic novels to be an excellent medium for memoirs and depictions of history, allowing a personal narrative to come alive in moving artwork that creates a powerful and engaging read. Grass from author and illustrator Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (also wrote and illustrated The Waiting) examines the lives of Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during their occupation between 1910-1945. They were referred to as “comfort women,” a euphemism that downplays the horrors and misogyny of their forced captivity. Grass was created from interviews the author did with Lee Ok-sun and is in part a response to when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied “comfort women” were coerced, walking back a 1993 statement of admission by the government. Haunting and stark, yet gorgeously depicted through Gendry-Kim’s black and white ink artwork, Grass is an important testimony to the lives of these 200,000 women who had their lives forever altered.

The graphic novel is written in a very direct style, much like a documentary. ‘I resolved to try telling her story in a calm and even tone,’ Keum Suk Gendry-Kim writes, ‘no matter my position, I avoided sensationalising the violence, pain, and suffering of the characters.’ Instead, she allows the story to tell itself, and there is enough raw emotion in Lee Ok-sun’s life that will certainly overwhelm the reader. This is, admittedly, a difficult and sad story to read. She was sold by her parents to a family in Busan, under the conditions they would send her to school. They did not and used her for housework instead. Barely surviving and near starvation, she is kidnapped by soldiers and taken to a camp in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. She was 15 when her life as a sexual slave began.

The artwork really brings this story to life, with beautiful landscapes while the simple black and white art provokes a heavy, woeful tone. The faces of the young girls are very minimalist compared to the adults, representing how they were dehumanized and objectified. In many scenes, the Japanese soldiers who come for the young girls are drawn without a face, showing their interchangableness and lack of humanity towards the girls.

The book, however, does not leave you simply feeling empty and horrified, as the later portion shows how she was able to carry on after and have a fairly normal life, though still carrying the scars of wartime and captivity. It is a moving testament to the human spirit and the will to survive. The author even retraces her steps, adding a very documentary-like feel to the story and providing current context. It is very well done.

Grass isn’t a lighthearted read, but it is a necessary one. Keum Suk Gendry-Kim tells an important story and keeps history alive by ensuring we remember the horrors of the past, but most importantly the women who endured it.

Profile Image for Mark Robison.
1,005 reviews73 followers
October 28, 2019
There's a 3-star review by Rod Brown on Goodreads about this book that helped me figure out how to talk about why I liked this book so much. He mentions how the author's brushwork that is so beautiful with landscapes feels ill-suited to small panels where noses and cheeks often become rough triangles, and how the author inserts herself awkwardly at the end while talking about trying to visit some of the sites in China mentioned by Okseon Lee, a woman whom she interviews about her time as a "comfort woman" for the Japanese military during World War II.

The noses-as-triangles are jarring and a little dehumanizing but, to me, they capture the way these young girls were objectified as "supplies" for the military. And that bit at the end shows how every trace of the story of comfort women is being obliterated and the difficult position the author felt — especially in a society where politeness and shame are so emphasized — in simply broaching the subject of sexual slavery. There's the author's shock and almost inability to continue after Okseon Lee tells her she's never had a moment of happiness since leaving her mother's womb. How do you ask this woman to relive every horror just so you can make a graphic novel?

It's to the author's credit that the story is told without emotion. The reader can't help but supply outrage so if the author had added her own, I think the book would've been overwhelming. As it was, I felt compelled to read this almost straight through because I wanted to know what happened to Okeson Lee next, whereas with some books about difficult subjects, it's all I can do to force myself to open them up because of the toll I know they will take on my psyche.

Anyway, I felt grateful that this book was translated into English because it's the only one of the author's which has. War stories are almost exclusively told through the eyes of men (except for the trend of historical romance), but this view of war gives a perspective that demands to be told, too.
Profile Image for Juan Naranjo.
Author 2 books2,247 followers
March 7, 2022
«Hierba» es una de las lecturas más crudas y más duras que he llevado a cabo en mi vida. Este grueso volumen nos cuenta detalladamente la tragiquísima vida de una anciana surcoreana que sufrió algunos de los episodios más duros de la Historia en su propia carne. Después de una infancia de hambre, pobreza y trabajo, acaba siendo capturada como «mujer de consuelo» por el ejército japonés que invadía su país, y convertida en una esclava sexual violada diariamente por soldados enemigos.

La historia, narrada con unas viñetas emotivas y llenas de expresividad con una tinta negra dispuesta sobre el papel de una forma muy plástica, sigue a la protagonista después del final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y también narra su periplo de vuelta a casa. Este libro es una forma de conocer este episodio terrorífico de la historia y una manera de que no se olvide el martirio por el que pasaron estas mujeres, de las que aún quedan algunas supervivientes pidiendo justicia y reparación.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,821 reviews653 followers
January 22, 2023
Such a powerful GN - Lee Ok-sun is a young Korean girl forced to become a "comfort woman" for the Japanese Imperial Army. Her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time; always trying to help other girls as the abuse and 'men' they have to 'service' is increased without the slightest shred of compassion. Destined to become a classic.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,917 reviews35.3k followers
July 9, 2022
“The term ‘comfort women’
is widely used to refer to the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery” ….(Japanese prostitute)

“GRASS’ is a powerful graphic true anti-war story of a Korean girl named Lee Oksun who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII….from
childhood to grannyhood.

The men went to war and the women were forced to satisfy their needs.

Lee was attacked by a group of military men — they dragged her into their car when she was 14 years of age. She had no idea that she would never see her parents again or where she was going. She was taken to the so-called ‘comfort station’….a brothel that serviced Japanese soldiers— in Japanese occupied China.
She became one of the ten thousands of ‘comfort women’ subjected to forced prostitute between the years of 1932 and 1945.
Lee was one of the women who survived— there are pictures of her at age 80– protesting in front of the Japanese embassy in 2000 demanding an apology for their enslavement.

The story is devastating: a very powerful human rights and social justice heart-rendering and educational book. The artwork is visually-
emotionally gorgeous.

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
January 6, 2022
A 2017 book that I already know will be on my list as among the best graphic novels of 2022. Absolutely devastating story of sexual slavery from WWII, now documented thankfully in various non-fiction and fiction works, some of which I have read (Chang Rae Lee's A Gesture Life was my first reading about it, maybe twenty years ago, as books began to tell the secret histories of these girls and women, and it is very powerful, though it is told from the perspective of a Japanese doctor who had been assigned to care for the women during the war). The Japanese military kidnapped these young women to be available as wartime "supplies,"for their soldiers, many of whom became sick and died, most psychologically damaged for their entire lives. But this is the most powerful rendering of the situation I have yet to read, in part because it takes a telephoto view instead of a wide-angle, big-picture perspective of this ugly chapter in human history, denied by the Japanese government for several decades, and brings to life the story of one such woman.

Drawn and Quarterly gets much credit for doing a beautiful job of making this book available, though some copywriter calls it "a powerful antiwar graphic novel," which misses the important point that this happened and happens to women at the hands of men. No one who is a student of war can deny that rape is a constant feature of war (historically unreported as part of war casualties for centuries), but the way the militaries of the world historically talk about young soldiers and sex--rape, prostitution--sort of a boys will be boys approach, hides the whole truth, just as the words "comfort women" sickeningly attempt to soften our perspective on the unforgivable horror. The history of sexual assault in the American military is only slowly being acknowledged, but it is still going on. And no, it is not just a military or war problem. It is far more fundamental than that, of course, about male-female relations, about what it means to be human, or rather, de-human.

This important graphic biography tells the life story of a fifteen-year-old Korean girl named Okseon Lee who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. The Drawn and Quarterly copy writer calls it "a disputed chapter in twentieth-century Asian history," which is offensive given what we now know was a systematic denial of the facts. Korean cartoonist Keum Suk Gendry-Kim interviewed Lee extensively to get her whole sad life story, where she was initially given up for adoption (essentially sold) by her impoverished parents, whom she never saw again.

Sound too sad to read in a time of worldwide pandemic? I get that, I read lots of escapist comics, and I am sick from reading it, but I urge you to read this or another of the books written on this topic. The artwork is dark, pen and ink, with a haunting and simple rendering of Lee's life story, of which she says she never knew happiness since coming from her mother's womb. Gendry-Kim honors Lee and her survival instincts, her ability to overcome trauma, but she allows the story to largely tell itself. Some of the pages seem smudgy, as if to reflect the poverty, and faces are sometimes obscured, as if to illustrate the near-erasure of her existence. But she lives, and lives here in this story, to shame the world.

I read this largely because I read another tragic graphic story the author created, The Waiting, which is about the sad, decades-long family separations in North and South Korea, based on several interviews she conducted. This author needs to keep getting published world-wide, to inspire similar projects in a new generation of writers, artists and journalists. Thanks to D & Q for publishing it.

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,385 reviews11.8k followers
May 29, 2021
Welcome to the second round of "My Book Club Picks Books For Me."

As you well know, I am a part of a real life YA book club, and awhile ago I introduced you to my friend Michelle who read the books we all picked for her. I won that round!!!

This time, please welcome Elyse. Elyse is an actor, SLP and my son's drama teacher. She is SUPER enthusiastic about YA fantasy, Tudors and retellings. Also beer. We picked books to her, competing for #1 favorite spot, and this time I recommended Grass, and didn't win. Boo. But the winner totally deserved the top spot.


Elyse Reads and Speaks


P.S. Read this book.
P.P.S. We have our next victim, and I will do my best to win round #3.
Horrifying stuff, but the truth that needs to be told and fought for.

For some more context:


Profile Image for David.
651 reviews302 followers
October 14, 2020
"I've never known happiness from the moment I came out of my mother's womb" Lee Ok-Sun, now an octogenarian living out her days in the House of Sharing can hardly be blamed for that sentiment. Still active, still advocating for the rights of comfort women, still able to recall the horrors visited upon her. Snatched up on the road to the market at age 15 and shipped off to the Chinese province of Yanji, Lee Ok-Sun became a comfort woman - essentially a sex slave forced to service the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII in a massive, state sanctioned, human trafficking operation.

This is all told as Gendry-Kim coaxes the story from Lee Ok-Sun in the present day, offering at least something to anchor yourself to, knowing that Ok-Sun survived. But Gendry-Kim does not shy away from the horrors of her time in captivity and presents them in a blunt tone accompanied by stark images. Even as Japan surrendered, the plight of these women did not cease and Ok-Sun would have to endure so much more even in freedom.

Today the Japanese government, despite issuing numerous apologies, still avoids any mention of women being taken against their will. Some lawmakers go as far as recounting stories from Japanese soldiers who were adamant the comfort women thanked them for the chance to send money back home. The Japanese government continues to fight strongly against activist efforts to support and recognize these women. Lee Ok-Sun continues to demand that she and her ilk be recognized.

This graphic novel packs a massive punch and tells the story of one comfort women and her lived experience. Incredibly done, beautifully translated by Janet Hong with some astonishing artwork reminiscent of traditional ink brush painting, this is a powerful work that should be read.
Profile Image for teach_book.
291 reviews622 followers
December 12, 2021
Niezwykle ważna książka. Hołd oddany niewolnicom seksualnym, które pochodziły z terenów podbitych i okupowanych przez Japończyków w I połowie XX wieku.

Ból i cierpienie. To przeważa. To się czuje.
Profile Image for Tiffany Miss.Fiction.
121 reviews1,742 followers
October 13, 2019
Incredibilmente profondo, toccante, uno sguardo a 360° sulle le condizioni economico-sociali e la storia delle comfort-women. Ottimo volume!
Profile Image for Laubythesea.
309 reviews336 followers
January 31, 2023
Estoy segura de no ser la única que de un tiempo a esta parte se cruza, en un lado o en otro, con ‘Hierba’, cada pocos días. Esta premiadísima novela gráfica que trata el tema de las confort women durante la II Guerra Mundial me llamó la atención desde el primer momento, así que cuando la vi en la biblioteca, no lo dude.
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim recoge en ‘Hierba’ la historia de Lee Ok-Sun, quien pasó varios años en una ‘estación de confort’ siendo violad* diariamente por soldados japoneses. Porque si, ‘confort women’ es un doloroso eufemismo de la violencia y esclavitud sexual a las que se sometieron a más de 400.000 mujeres coreanas, chinas, filipinas, taiwanesas… durante aquel periodo. Unas cifras que ponen la piel de gallina y que nos recuerdan cuántas historias no conocemos. Ellas fueron secuestradas, forzadas, engañadas, vendidas, retenidas y trasladadas lejos de sus hogares hasta cualquier punto del mapa de territorios ocupados por el imperio japonés.
Lee Ok-Sun murió hace pocas semanas a los 94 años, tras una vida llena de horrores y heridas que nunca terminaron de curarse. Además del enorme trauma por lo vivido en su juventud, las dificultades no terminaron para ella con el fin de la guerra (no os cuento más) y, aun así, la autora muestra como la mujer que conoció tenía fuerzas para continuar luchando por el reconocimiento de los crímenes cometidos contra estas mujeres por los soldados japoneses, y lo que es aún más llamativo e inspiracional (si cabe), mantenía un gran sentido del humor.
Las heridas entre Corea y Japón a este respecto aún no se han cerrado. A pesar del acuerdo logrado ante ambos países en 2015, el descontento entre las (cada vez menos) supervivientes, familiares y sociedad en general, se mantiene porque Japón no ha emitido unas disculpas oficiales y reconocido los crímenes. Mal y tarde, cinco mujeres recibieron una compensación económica, solo cinco, porque solo eran esas las supervivientes. Sin embargo, lo que buscan es un reconocimiento y disculpa que restaure el honor que les rompieron.
De ’Hierba’ hay que destacar el respeto y sensibilidad con la que la autora nos muestra la vida de Lee Ok-Sun, que representa la de tantas otras de las que no sabemos el nombre. Valiéndose solo del blanco y el negro, la autora plasma algunos de los mayores horrores que puede vivir una persona, pero también hay hueco para sonrisas y momentos de cercanía.  Destaco la fuerza de las metáforas en esta historia, tanto las formadas por palabras, como el propio título, como las ilustradas porque la naturaleza, en forma de bosques oscuros o el cielo estrellado, cobra un diferentes significados, implicitando escenas de violencia y horror. Lo mismo ocurre con partes donde manchas negras, abstractas, pueblan las páginas. No son figurativas, pero lo dicen todo.
Una novela gráfica que te mantiene constantemente con los sentimientos a flor de piel, que pone en el centro de la conversación crímenes que no deben olvidarse, y buscando que la historia de la violencia contra estas (y las) mujeres nunca más vuelva a silenciarse.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,124 reviews171 followers
September 14, 2019
Important subject matter presented pretty well. A young Korean cartoonist interviews an older Korean woman' to present her story as a sexual slave, or "comfort woman," to Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The art is pretty impressive when focused on trees, landscapes, or vague swaths of black ink during moments of violence. But the artist's figures are a bit weak, and she makes an unfortunate choice in slapping triangles in the middle of people's faces and presenting them as noses. Very distracting.

In the second half of the book the author inserts herself more into the story, recounting the production of this book and a half-hearted, floundering visit to some of the sites mentioned by the woman. It seems odd that by the time she nears the end of the book, she hasn't talked to the old woman in years and notes that she happened to catch sight of her on TV shortly before wrapping up. Having been drawn into the story, the ending served to detach me from it as I felt the author was presenting it as less a mission to tell this story and more as another deadline to meet before the next thing in her scheduler. It didn't ruin the book, but it detracted.
Profile Image for Adrián Ciutat.
190 reviews26 followers
July 27, 2022
Todo lo bueno que oí y leí sobre ‘Hierba’ era cierto. Una de las más tristes vidas jamás contadas 💔
Profile Image for Lata.
3,499 reviews187 followers
February 15, 2020
A harrowing story of poverty, enslavement, rape, violence, and unbelievable strength. Granny Lee Ok-Sun, the woman whose life is described by author and artist Aksum Suk Gendry-Kim, was a teen when she was kidnapped and transported far from home to a comfort station. Already no stranger to terrible poverty, casual cruelty and being taken advantage of, Ok-Sun experienced terrible conditions once at the station, repeatedly raped and beaten. And the end of the war did not end her troubles, as the author discovered.
This is a deeply disturbing history, with Ok-Sun and other formerly enslaved women like her treated badly by their families and others, and the Korean and Japanese governments, for having been ‘comfort women’, a totally vile and sickening way to describe their imprisonment and the sexual violence they suffered for years.
This is a difficult book to read, and the author treats her subject and the other women sensitively, interspersing horrible incidents with striking, calm scenes of nature, giving the reader a way to continue reading. This is a powerful and moving story of a very strong woman.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
Author 1 book314 followers
January 24, 2023
Qué difícil hacerles una reseña de esta historia, sobre todo porque es una historia real llena de bordes filosos. No es fácil de leer, pero es una historia que cautiva por su resiliencia y que invito a todxs a leer.

Está narrada en presente y pasado, sobre todo pasado, junto a un breve "making-off" al final del trabajo que significó para la autora escribir este libro.

Me sorprendió mucho lo que desconocía de la historia de Asia, las atrocidades de la guerra del Pacífico y el humor que aún así guarda su protagonista mientras nos cuenta su cruda historia. Protagonista que a su avanzada edad se ha convertido en activista por las mujeres que fueron víctimas de explotación sexual en la guerra. 

Destaco también el respeto con que la autora ilustra todas las tragedias relatadas en el libro y la poesía con que da cierre a esta historia en su epílogo "como hierba que resiste" y que deduzco da origen al título del libro.

Espero puedan leer Hierba, porque el pasado hay que conocerlo y luchar para que lo malo no se repita jamás.

TW: explotación sexual, laboral e infantil; intento de aborto, violencia, venta de personas, prostitución, asesinatos masivos, guerra
Profile Image for Arsénico.
603 reviews109 followers
March 1, 2022
Nos cuenta la historia real de Lee Ok-Sun, una mujer coreana que fue arrancada de su familia cuando apenas era una niña. Fue vendida a varias familias hasta que llegó la ocupación japonesa, donde la llevaron a la fuerza a una base aérea en China y la obligaron a trabajar en una estación de consuelo. El ejército imperial japonés las llamaban «mujeres de consuelo», pero en realidad eran esclavas sexuales que malvivían mientras eran usadas por los soldados. 

No había sitio al que escapar y el miedo les impedía intentarlo. Pero lo peor es que tampoco había lugar al que regresar. Y es que, después de todo lo que habían tenido que vivir, no podían volver a casa. ¿Quién las aceptaría después de eso? La vergüenza por una vida que no habían elegido las acompañarían para siempre. 

No sé ni qué decir, pues la historia me ha dejado destrozada. Es de esas historias que te marcan, que llegan a ti para quedarse. No es lacrimógena ni exagera en ningún momento. Solo es...real.

Hay una nota de la autora al final de la obra en la que comenta su experiencia mientras dibujaba y narraba las vivencias de Ok-Sun. Habla del momento en el que se dio cuenta de que estaba recreando la historia de un ser humano, más allá del género. 
Y eso podría resumir esta obra: la vida de un ser humano. Real. Tangible. El tormento que fue su vida. Cómo le robaron la infancia, la inocencia, la esperanza. Las humillaciones a las que fue sometida como mujer y ser humano. Una vida condenada por la propia crueldad humana. 

'Hierba' es una bofetada de realidad de las que te obligan a mantener los ojos abiertos. Es un relato durísimo, pero necesario. Porque todas esas mujeres, esas personas, fueron reales y tienen derecho a ser recordadas. 

Profile Image for Alfredo.
365 reviews499 followers
June 15, 2021
Que quadrinho forte. "Grama" é uma história sobre as "mulheres de conforto", ou "escravas sexuais", que eram estupradas pelo exército japonês durante um dos períodos mais sombrios e doloridos da história humana. A graphic novel foca em um caso individual, que é contado por meio de relatos de uma vítima sobrevivente, mas traz à luz a situação vivida por milhares. A sensibilidade da autora em retratar acontecimentos tenebrosos me comoveu, bem como o desfecho agridoce da história. Compreender nossa história recente é fundamental para que lutemos pelos direitos de quem não teve seu direito reparado pelo estado e para que jamais repitamos os mesmos erros do passado.

Os textos e ilustrações de Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, ao lado da tradução de Jae Hyung Woo, bem como o trabalho gráfico da Pipoca & Nanquim são dignos de nota. Essa edição vale muito a pena.

Profile Image for Tomasz.
392 reviews727 followers
January 2, 2022
Niby temat mi znany, ale za każdym razem równie poruszający i wstrząsający. Ukazanie doświadczeń kobiety, która była ofiarą niewolnictwa i przymusowej pracy seksualnej w czasie wojny w formie komiksu wydawało mi się nie do końca trafionym pomysłem, ale po lekturze zmieniam zdanie. Autorka podeszła do historii z ogromnym wyczuciem i zrozumieniem- komiks jest brutalny, ale tą brutalnością nie epatuje. Dużo dzieje się nie w słowach, ale na rysunkach, które uzupełniają przerażające wspomnienia jednej z przetrwanek.
Profile Image for Kate.
43 reviews37 followers
May 31, 2022

I finished this book in less than 2 hours. And all I have to say is, I'll never treat comics lightly. Ever again.
This book was simply breathtaking, mindblowing. I grew up Korean American, and so I was naturally led into the massive hate war between Japan and Korea. (An ongoing problem, even today as I speak)
And because it hasn't even been 100 years since colonization and scars still remain unhealed, a lot of Korean authors choose to talk about sexual abuse during the Japanese colonization. Most of the time, it didn't work for me. It felt too dramatized or overly emphasized in a way that made the stories hard to relate to. But not for this book. "Grass" has painted such a picture of sexual abuse during the Japanese colonization of Korea that not once did I ever think the author overdid it. It was beautifully drawn and scripted.
"Grass" weaves the complicated, deeply tragic story of a Korean woman sexually abused during the Japanese Colonization period. We follow Oksun Lee, our main character, as she's separated from loved ones and shoved into the brutal waiting hands of soldiers. She goes through so much sexual abuse, abuse, the terrors of war. She is repetitively raped, regardless of her health or any other circumstance. She lies wounded, she sits trapped, and it is her story we follow with the assistance of our beloved author, Keumsuk Kim.
But is not just a story about sexual abuse; it's a story about pain. Grief and living through grief. Desperation at having to accept giving up on your body, your life; compliance, not because you want to but because there's no way out of this terrible situation you're placed in. It's a story about loss and grief and not feeling you have enough power in you to battle all your obstacles. It's a story about having all these bad things happen to you and you wait for that one good thing to come, and when it does come, in the end, at a painstakingly slow pace, it turns out it wasn't good as you wanted it to be.

I read some reviews that said the ending was anticlimatic, but I think it was a good way to show how much work and research and hard effort went into writing this book. Same goes for the in-between conversations with Oksun. It just plainly showed how hard it is for "sexual slaves" (comfort women is a derogatory term - don't use it. The word distorts sexual abuse and implies sexual slavery was 'voluntary') to open up about sexual abuse.
I won't spoil anything for you, but I have to say the things that go on in this woman (Oksun)'s life is crazy. If I had to go through this, I'd have killed myself. Life would have seemed pointless. Japan argues these women never said no (to the abuse) but bullsh*t. If you just think for a second what it would feel like to be trapped in a room no bigger than a bed, sleeping with 30-40 soldiers on weekends, sexually abused even when pregant, you'd never even give a second glance to such ridiculous, absurd arguments.
There are "14 women sexually abused by Japan" left in our country. This is the last chance for Japan to properly apologize for what they've done. And this is not just a problem between Japan and Korea, because countless other countries went through this too. Korea has, too, done some terrible things in the past. And as a Korean American, I believe we should also apologize. I believe every victimized women of war should receive a proper apology to move forward.
But to do that, we can't wait for governments to work. It's the 21st century; we are more or less all connected through media, through technology, and the Internet has enabled us to communicate to someone on the other side of the planet. We need individual change, and an embracing of faults with apologies.
The past may be ugly, but the only way to move past it is to accept and understand it.
5 stars.
Profile Image for Lucia Nieto Navarro .
699 reviews144 followers
October 21, 2022
No soy muy fan de las novelas gráficas, me cuesta leerlas y nunca se profundiza demasiado en los temas que trata, no quiere decir que no me haya gustado esta historia.
Hierba nos cuenta la vida de nuestra protagonista, una chica coreana que fue vendida por sus padres, y que sobrevivió a la Guerra del Pacífico, fue explotada como “mujer de consuelo” (así las llamaban los japoneses para referirse a esclavas sexuales)
La historia narrada en viñetas (que bueno no son muy allá), creo que esta muy bien para enterarte de que va el tema, un acercamiento a lo que fue esta guerra de la que tan poco se sabe…y que aún los japoneses siguen sin pedir perdón….
Un libro que se lee muy rápido y aunque es duro merece la pena, solo espero que poco a poco se vayan traduciendo más novelas de esta temática.
Profile Image for MaRysia (ostatnia_strona).
262 reviews104 followers
February 5, 2022
Bardzo dobrze, że takie komiksy powstają. W przystępnej formie przekazuje fakty o których nie powinnyśmy zapominać. Szczególnie jeśli władze dwóch państw bardzo się starały żebyśmy się o tym w ogóle nie dowiedzieli.
Profile Image for Eva  Francés.
158 reviews
March 4, 2023
Es necesario que historias como estas sean contadas. Necesitamos, como sociedad, leer y escuchar estos relatos, y no olvidar que esto ha sido y es real. El infierno que han vivido y viven miles de personas es real, y debemos ser conscientes de ello. Debemos aprender y no repetir la misma historia.

Doy gracias a les historiadores, por ofrecernos una visión más 'objetiva' de nuestro pasado. Pero sobre todo doy gracias a artistas como Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Art Spiegelman o Marjale Satrapi (que son les más conocides, pero debe haber muches más), por retratar y dar voz a personas que han formado parte de estos episodios tan terribles de lo que nos enseñan por encima en nuestras escuelas. No son números, son personas, y obras tan necesarias como Hierba nos lo expresan de una manera brillante.


“Cuando termine este frío tan duro, llegará del sur la carta de siempre. Una carta llena de luz con noticias de primavera. Frágiles rimas que tiemblan en las postrimerías del largo invierno. Dentro albergan la energía de una vida nueva que pronto brotará y abrirá grietas en la corteza. La tierra despertará de su hibernación y los brotes tiernos se erguirán entre las hojas muertas, marchitas de frío. Son hierbas que resisten al viento y a todo lo que las pisotea. Es la hierba que os saludará con timidez, rozándoos suavemente las piernas. Se repliega el invierno, y de repente, en silencio, ese frío que parecía interminable se aleja en una promesa de primavera.”
Profile Image for ⭐️ Elene  Figuer ⭐️.
102 reviews20 followers
February 28, 2023
Un libro magnífico con todo lo necesario para convertirse en un clásico de su género tal como Maus o Persépolis.

En este caso, el testimonio es de Lee Ok-Sun, mujer coreana obligada por el ejército imperial japonés a ejercer como "mujer de consuelo" durante la guerra del Pacífico en 1942. Aún se desconoce mucho sobre este tema y es que se ha estado silenciado demasiado tiempo. Como Ok-Sun nos dice, parece más bien que se estuviera esperando que todas las que estuvieron allí mueran, así no habría nadie que contara qué sucedió.

De todo, me quedo con una idea que me inspiró este libro: las grandes atrocidades que el ser humano ha cometido contra el ser humano deben ser contadas antes de que desaparezcan aquellos que pueden dar testimonio, tal vez nos enseñen a ser un poco mejores seres humanos.
Profile Image for Chinook.
2,242 reviews19 followers
February 7, 2020
The moment I stumbled across Grass at the library, I knew I had to read it. I’ve been to the House of Sharing and attended the Wednesday protests across from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. I’ve met the Halmoni and heard them tell their stories. I feel very strongly connected to this story - and that in part because of the fact that I’d never even heard of the Japanese practice of kidnapping and coercing women into sexual slavery during the war until after I moved to Korea. We hear so little about the horrors of the war in Asia in the West.

It’s a very well done graphic novel. The story can be a bit disjointed, understandably so when one considers how hard it must be to speak of such difficult subjects and to do it in a society that hasn’t always been willing to hear these kinds of narratives. The author inserts herself into the narrative and I think that’s done well too, demonstrating the difficulty of hearing and asking for these memories, before there is no one left to tell these stories.
Profile Image for Teffy R..
12 reviews40 followers
January 26, 2023
Pensé que me demoraría leyéndolo por su tamaño, pero me equivocaba. Había leído respecto de las "mujeres de consuelo", pero ver la experiencia de una de ellas es completamente diferente. Es una experiencia horrible, donde para colmo el gobierno japonés nunca asume su responsabilidad (hasta lo desmienten).

Admiro siempre a los ilustradores que son capaces de narrar a través de imágenes y acompañarlo de texto. Las ilustraciones son simples, pero transmiten de una forma impresionante. Me gustó que las escenas no fuesen explícitas y que aún así logra transmitir todo el terror de sus vivencias. Una pena tremenda.

Sin duda quiero leer el siguiente libro.
Profile Image for may ➹.
470 reviews1,896 followers
December 22, 2022
Such a hard book to read, but so important. Lee Ok-sun’s story—both the general devastating effects of war on her life and her specific experience as a “comfort woman”—is sadly only one of many. I am glad that this respectful, non-sensationalized account exists to highlight not only her pain but also her strength. Even with Lee’s tenacity, though, it is hard to feel hopeful by the end of the book, especially with the continued suppression of justice for these women.

:: content warnings :: rape, (sexual) slavery, war, kidnapping, child trafficking
Profile Image for Hermes - IG: Cajadsinopsis.
213 reviews4 followers
January 18, 2023
Una historia conmovedora, emotiva y asombrosa que relata la terrible historia de Lee Ok-Sun, antigua “mujer de consuelo” (esclava sexual) del ejército japonés contada a través de una serie de entrevistas que la autora le realizó en la casa del compartir.

El arte es brutal y maravillosa. Todas las cosas positivas que había visto y escuchado sobre este libro son ciertas. Una novela gráfica que demuestra que este tipo de libros no solo son para público infantil. Una obra de arte que no te será indiferente. Es una historia que deja huella.

Si tienen la oportunidad de leerla no la desaprovechen.
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