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4.39  ·  Rating details ·  408 ratings  ·  90 reviews
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
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published September 26th 2018)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  408 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Jon Nakapalau
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.
Mark Robison
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
This book made my heart hurt so much. What a gut wrenching story about Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military. Why are people so horrific to each other? It is so important for stories to be told - especially the ones that are really really painful to hear.
Dan Clark
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a tragic story that makes you question this experiment we call humanity. This follows the life of Lee Ok-Sun. Born in Korea her life seemed to take one horrific turn after another especially as the Japanese Empire invaded most of Asia. She rebelled simply by living

It is a story that needs to be told but even the book openly struggles with the best way to tell it. One that respects and doesn't exploit. By giving a voice to someone who overcame true evil there is a large level of
Rod Brown
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Elizabeth A
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Book blurb: Grass is a powerful antiwar nonfiction 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.

War is hell for all involved, but we mostly hear war stories from the male POV, so I really appreciated this biography, which gives us an up-close and intimate look at a different POV.

This biography of Okseon Lee tells us her
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Powerful and harsch graphic novel, but never feels sensationalized or exploitative. Made me think more about the portrayal of these types of stories. The art style might not be for everyone, but it worked for me. I don't think this story needed a more detailed drawing style. So far this is the only work of the author that has been translated to English; I'd love to read more of hers, so I'll be waiting patiently.
Barry Welsh
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. An incredible book. Highly recommended
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
definitely one of the most horrifying books i've ever read. it tells lee ok-sun's story very well and respectfully, without sensationalizing what she went through or exploiting her. the artwork does an incredible job of conveying her emotions and of describing parts of her story that were simply indescribable.

my only wish is that there was more information on the activist work that lee ok-sun and other former comfort women are doing now, in the present. there are some mentions of it at the very
Vivek Tejuja
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Before reading Grass, I wasn’t aware of “comfort women”. I wasn’t aware of how they were treated by Japanese soldiers. These women were largely Korean and were forced into sexual slavery during the Japanese Occupation of Korea before and during World War II. This is the account of how the atrocity of war ruins women’s lives – no matter the country, no matter the place – the suffering of women is universal. Men go to battle. Women get raped. Men go to battle. Women must bear all consequences.

Lisa Boyd
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I never knew much about comfort women. I am glad and sad that I read this.
Ben Truong
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Grass is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim and translated by Janet Hong, which centers on Lee Ok-sun, who was a comfort woman during the Japanese Occupation of Korea during the Second World War.

In telling the difficult, moving story of Korean former "comfort woman" Granny Lee Ok-sun, Gendry-Kim faces a philosophical question as well as an artistic one: what can be redeemed in a life defined largely by cruelty? In swift black brushstrokes that feel both contemporary
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A painful, heartbreaking, and important story. Atrocities against the Korean people during WWII - especially the girls & women forced into sexual slavery.
Sep 16, 2019 added it
Shelves: library-books, 2019
a difficult book, to read and rate. sensitively told and rendered, but with many disjunctions in the narrative (hard to say if they were deliberate, could be a fault in translation), and even some spelling errors, that were distracting. the art was affecting but sometimes the bold brushwork did not seem to suit the smaller panels. still, i commend the artist for tackling this very difficult and overlooked subject with dedication and a sense of necessity.
Harry Brake
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is utterly amazing to discover topics that you never knew delved to the heart of countries, and never heard of them previously. Add to that surprise the element of historical fiction, amazing illustrations that make you reexamine each page again, and that heart felt pain of an abuse that has occurred, without retribution adequate enough for the disservice.

Keum Suk Gendry-Kims Grass, is - there simply are not words to describe the pain that was inflicted on women known as "comfort women" from
Amanda Carr
Grass is the true story of a Korean girl named Lee Ok-sun who was forced to work as a “comfort woman,” (sexual slavery) for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. This book examines a horrible, and not so distant history, with parallels to the current sex trade industry. Hard, but extremely important read! Beautiful black and white artwork
Annie Oosterwyk
A sad history of Korean comfort women and their continued search for justice..
Grass tells the terrible story of a "comfort woman" a sexual slave kidnapped from Korea to service Japanese soldiers in the second world war. Young girls and women were kept in horrible conditions to be raped repeatedly for years until the war's end. Gendry-Kim, a Korean cartoonist interviews one of the last survivors of this atrocity, Lee Ok-sun. Ok-sun tells her story in a straightforward, matter of fact telling that if anything, highlights it's horror. She also remembers her family, her ...more
Caitlin O
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gutting. One of the most sensitive ways I’ve seen an artist grapple with the way interviews can stir up trauma with sources and bring up trauma for the interviewer. The self-awareness and empathy Gendry-Kim brings to this project is beautiful.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
"I've never known happiness from the moment I came out of my mother's womb." - Lee Ok-sun

Haunting. Horrific. Harrowing. Those are the words that replayed in my mind as I read through "Grass." I was already aware of Japan's dehumanizing sexual slavery that went on during WWII from a movie I viewed a couple years back called Snowy Road . In that movie, two Korean girls aged 13 or 14 are taken by the Japanese to become "comfort women," i.e. a girl who was forced to engage in sexual activity with
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly sad, powerful, and important story about a bit of history that we don't hear much about.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this graphic novel was so powerful. the art was absolutely stunning but coupled with the devastating story of the korean women sold into sexual slavery to the japanese... overwhelming, honestly.
Helen Pugsley
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You ever pick up a book and then accidentally read the whole thing?
This makes me sick to my stomach but it needed to be told.
I think this is non-fiction even though the spine label doesn't reflect it.
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having only the most basic knowledge of comfort women this really fleshed out the experiences of these women through the experiences of someone who lived it and continued to campaign against the injustice. What was most gripping to me was the look at how these women who have already been forced into prostitution were still treated horrendously afterwards.

One part I did find especially troubling outside of those horrific acts was how at one point Gendry-Kim wrote of repeatedly asking if there
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written and I think the graphic format works well for the story. Unsurprisingly depressing. The muted color palette is nice, too.
Heather Lander
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Absolutely horrific, unbelievably sad.
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a horrific tragedy of the atrocities that take place during wartime and the courage and endurance of those who survived. Beautiful graphics....
Clare Ruesga
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book is very emotional. To be honest I didn't know about this component of WWII. I have no idea of the books accuracy, but the story is well told and artfully done.
Alicia Charland
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read it in one night. A few times I had to put it down and take some deep breaths. What a powerful story told in a genre that I wouldn’t think would work, but does. A must read for history buffs.
Hard but excellent read.
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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 ...more
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