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When My Name Was Keoko
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When My Name Was Keoko

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  5,120 ratings  ·  754 reviews
Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul are proud of their Korean heritage. Yet they live their lives under Japanese occupation. All students must read and write in Japanese and no one can fly the Korean flag. Hardest of all is when the Japanese Emperor forces all Koreans to take Japanese names. Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. Korea is torn apart by their Japanes ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 13th 2004 by Yearling (first published March 18th 2002)
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Polina I read it in 4th grade, advanced level, and it seemed just right at the time.

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  5,120 ratings  ·  754 reviews

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April (Aprilius Maximus)
3.5 stars

This book had been sitting on my TBR list for ages. Even when I finally checked it out of the library it took weeks for me to actually start reading it. But I decided to start it today, and I'm so glad I did.

I connected to this book on a personal level that no book have ever been able to achieve for me. My paternal grandmother is Korean. She grew up in Seoul during WW2, and I remember her telling me stories about how she had to help with war preparations at school as a child. Reading about Sun-
Bob Beemsterboer
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Linda Sue Park expertly narrates the fictional story of her mother's experience with the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War 2. She meshes actual historical events with her own story to help the reader imagine what a typical Korean family went through while under Japanese rule. As a history teacher, this story was particularly interesting to me, since WW2 told from the Korean perspective is not something that is widely known. This part of Korean history is often discarded from history ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book falls into a category of books to which I have referred several times in the past: enjoyed post-book club.

When I read it through, my initial reaction what that it was nice; it was a nice story about a girl, her brother, and how her family coped with the war. It was only after I attended the book club discussion that the intricacies of the story came to life. The discussion helped me to understand in my heart what I already understood in my head (thanks ladies).

This story focuses on “t
Barb Middleton
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Writing reviews is like skipping a flat stone across a lake. At least for me. Sometimes the rock whirls like a Frisbee and I'm excitedly counting out loud each skip along the surface. Other times it hits the water with a thunk and sinks immediately with me quickly releasing another one to cover up my fuddy-duddy toss. Writing can be like that for some authors. A hit or miss. Then there are others who are so good at their craft they just fling rocks like Frisbees in rapid succession. I would put ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: read this if you're interested in WW II, Korean culture, oppression, or the power of language.
3.5 stars

When My Name Was Keoko is an immersive look into Korean life during World War II.

I had only gotten a few pages into this book when I had to confront myself on my own stupidity-- why did I not know that Korea had been occupied by Japan in the early 20th century? I just took a Japanese literature course that briefly dealt with history, as well. You'd think I would know this.

The reality of having your culture stamped down by a stronger country is presented here with no melodrama or vilify
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This might top out my list of possible 7th grade social studies books. It's very good, and ties in with the Indiana Standards really well.

I'm finding more and more YA literature that deals with Pre-WWII Japanese Imperialism. While I feel like - in general - Americans are still primarily focused with the European Theater, I'm sensing a shift with the distance that is now between us and the events.

We do a colonization simulation in class, in which the students create 4 cultures. One is smaller, th
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is probably on of my favorites! The story of Sun-hee and Tae-yul living in Japan-ruled Korea was beautifully written, with different narratives written by the two siblings. The way that the two fight the Japanese secretly and learn different lessons was brilliantly written, as if both of the characters were actually writing about their lives.
I also loved the ending, (I'm not going to spoil it!) as the author places the last moment in the book. If you love to read historical fiction, o
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
An enthralling look at life in Korea under Japanese occupation. I had no idea that, before WWII even started, the Koreans were living under harsh Japanese rule. Everything was taken from them: their language, culture, wealth, status, even their names. This book moves back and forth between a brother and sister, each striving to maintain their Korean identity in different ways. Lots of great detail about everyday life, as well as a look at the highlights of the war.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Score- 77/100

Enjoyment- 14/20

Characters- 9/10

Plot- 19/25

Setting- 10/10

Literary Value- 5/10

Importance- 8/10

Theme- 8/10

Mechanics- 5/5

When My Name Was Keoko is a well-crafted exploration of what life was like during the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II. Sue Park brings a wonderful historical aspect to the novel, however, the plot and characters are both somewhat lacking. All in all, though it has its faults, it is a good idea that is executed well and comes somewhat r
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is probably going to be another one of those "personal reflection" kind of posts, rather than an actual book review.
The book deals a lot with what it means to be Korean, especially as opposed to being Japanese. At one point Sun-hee gets worried, because she knows Americans can't tell the difference between a Japanese person and a Korean one on sight. The funny thing is that I kind of related. Everyone in England thinks I'm American until I tell them otherwise. So I am left thinking about t
Paula Soper
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 2017, 2016
AND, I taught it!

First read: I want to teach this book. I want to teach this book. I want to teach this book.

I've decided that I'm tired of WWII units only being about Hitler and the Holocaust. I suggest that teachers bring in books about Stalin (like Between Shades of Grey and how Hirohito demanded the Japanese soldiers treat the Koreans (this book)). Obviously other stuff that I haven't thought of should also be taught.

This book gives a fascinating view of daily life for a Korean girl and he
Dawn Michelle
This book was amazing. There is so much history here - history that I was totally unaware of. I had no idea that Japan occupied Korea at one time and occupied in a very brutal way. This story is told simply in a dual POV of a brother and sister and their lives during the occupation of Japan and then the war with the United States.

Very well done and I highly recommend this book to anyone.
Laura Sandonato
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have no recollection of learning about World War II in high school. I took AP U.S. History, so you’d think it would have come up, and it might have, but I don’t remember it. So, before I read When My Name Was Keoko, all I knew about Japan during World War II was that we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I knew nothing about Korea.

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park came out in 2002. The book follows a young Korean girl, Sun-hee (Keoko), and her older brother, Tea-yul (Nobuo
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because it was required for my class. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was so interesting to see World War II from the point of Korean youth. As an American, I had only heard about what happened in Germany during World War II, and it was eye-opening to see the impact that America had on the Japanese and Korean people. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, or anyone who is wanting to read a story from a different perspective than most ot ...more
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is a really gripping read about the Japanese occupation of Korea told from the point of view of a girl named Sun Hee beginning in 1940. Excellent historical fiction by Linda Sue Park, and I'd argue more accessible (at least for adults) because it's such recent history. Kitefighters is also excellent about 14th century Korea, and I'm working on A Single Shard, another way back historical fiction book. Linda Sue Park has this great way of incorporating information that the average American mi ...more
Dianna Caley
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was another one of my lit circle books. It's written for children, but I would recommend it for adults too. It's the story of a brother and sister living in Korea during world war II. At that time Korea had been under Japanese rule for thirty years and many people could not speak Korean. The historical period is really interesting and the narrative was really exciting and interesting too. I had a hard time putting it down.
Alex  Baugh
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
When My Name Was Keokol is written in the first person, but with an interesting twist. The story of the Kim family in Korea during World War II is told in the alternating voice of Sun-hee, 10, and her brother, Tai-yul, 13. The story begins in 1940. The Japanese have occupied Korea since 1910, systematically suppressing Korean culture in favor of their own, and now, they want every Korean to change their names to a Japanese name. Sun-hee becomes Keoko, Tae-yul is given the name Nobuo and their la ...more
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who have had family experience this war or are un-informed about these events
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2019 is currently reading it
My novel takes place in Korea in 1940. The Korean and Japanese armies were fighting in world war 2. Japanese Empire took over Korea. Once they took over, everything changed. All the Koreans had to change their names to Japanese ones, in school students had to learn about the Japanese culture. During school, they also had to read and write only in Japanese. Even outside of schools people couldn’t speak Korean, unless they we're home or in an environment, where it was safe to speak that language. ...more
Barbara M
When My Name was Keoko : a novel of Korea in World War II
By Linda Sue Park – 4 stars

This story is not just of Keoko a/k/a Sun-hee but also very much about her older brother, Tae-yul. Their story starts in 1940 in their village in what will be So. Korea. Sun-hee is 10 years old and her brother is 13. It starts as the Japanese have made the rule that all Koreans must take on Japanese names and it causes great pain in the Kim family. Their names have special meaning to them. Abuji (father) comes up
Austen to Zafón
I didn’t know anything about the experience of Koreans during the 35-year Japanese occupation of Korea, from 1910-1945. This story takes place during the tail end of WWII, and while it is targeted to middle-schoolers, it makes pretty clear the misery and the brutality the Koreans experienced at the hands of the Japanese. The author’s afterward even addressed the 100,000+ Korean girls forced to be “comfort,” (read: sexual slaves) for the Japanese soldiers. Japan denied it all for decades, whitewa ...more
Margaret Mae
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Since this book is historical fiction, and I'm leaving a not go great review I feel like I have to have this disclaimer: I have total respect for this historical event, and all of WW2 in general. I just didn't really like this book.

Now that that's out of the way...
I've always had an interest in everything world war two, and I think this book had so much potential. The book is told from the perspective of two children during the time when Japan occupied Korea, and made them change everything abou
Shirley Chen E2
In this book "When My Name Was Keoko" by Linda Sue Park, Keoko and her family was forced to change their names since the Japan-Korea Annexation. Her real name was actually Sun-hee. The police is trying to arrest her uncle because of printing news papers that against the Japanese. Tae-yul, her older brother volunteered for becoming a soldier, and fight for the war, so then nobody would know what actually happened to Uncle. Keoko's family was worried that Tae-yul would die because he was Korean, b ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book on many levels. It has poetry, compelling articulate characters, tells a believable story of survival and dignity in the midst of a dehumanizing situation.

It taught me about a part of WWII that I must have slept through in High School World History. I now understand a little more about a culture I knew little or nothing about(except that Kimichi is something you don't swallow a lot of if you have never tasted it before.) I have a little more insight into the current st
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really moving story, and I learned a lot about both Korean culture and a very challenging time in history. Shifting between the two sibling's perspectives gave a nice wide view of what was happening in Korea during the Second World War, and the characters were interesting. The ending very much felt like a "children's lit" kind of ending, but it was completely unbelievable. I would definitely recommend this to kids who like historical fiction; I actually saw a lot of parallels between ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This is Young Adult Historical fiction. The story is set in Korea, when they were under Japan rule during WWII. First, I liked that some of the tragic events mentioned were not overly graphic. It felt age appropriate, but yet it still managed to reflect the emotion of the time period. They did what they had to do, to survive. That is a common theme when it comes to war, but it is interesting how that has manifested itself throughout different historical events.
Samantha DeBlois
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trimester-1
I loved this book. It was so detailed and very well written. This book gave the reader insight on what it was like to live when Korea was invaded by the Japanese. It also gave insight on what it is like to have a family member in the military and what it is like to have to become a whole different person just because of where you are from. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book to read.
Feisty Harriet
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii, korea
This short novel is about two siblings growing up in Korea during the Japanese invasion prior to WWII. I have read quite a bit about Korea after the Korean War, but didn't know much about it prior to that. A young girl and her older brother alternate chapters here, talking about their lives in occupied Korea and the changes that happened during WWII.
Nola Redd
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bought tears to my eyes
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Play Book Tag: [Horizons] When My Name Was Keoko - Linda Sue Park - 4 stars 2 12 Mar 30, 2019 11:00AM  
Play Book Tag: (PBT Horizons) When My Name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park - 4 stars 4 17 Mar 15, 2019 11:03AM  
Play Book Tag: When My Name Was Keoko / Linda Sue Park ~ 4 Stard 5 17 Mar 01, 2018 10:42AM  
Word Game 15 8 Oct 29, 2014 08:32PM  
Last one to post wins! 2 6 Oct 29, 2014 08:27PM  
Simone 3 6 Oct 20, 2014 06:11AM  

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Linda Sue Park is a Korean American author of children's fiction. Park published her first novel, Seesaw Girl, in 1999. To date, she has written six children’s novels and five picture books for younger readers. Park’s work achieved prominence when she received the prestigious 2002 Newbery Medal for her novel A Single Shard.

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