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When My Name Was Keoko
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When My Name Was Keoko

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  4,364 Ratings  ·  613 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 January 1st 2002)
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haley
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-
...more
Ghazaleh
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
نمیدونم درسته یا غلط، اما شنیدم که نویسنده این کتاب رو براساس داستان زندگی والدینش نوشته.
خب من عاشق کتاب هاییم که مرتبط با جنگ هستند، اما این داستان به چند دلیل جذابیت خیلی زیادی برام نداشت. یکی اینکه به نظرم باید برای گروه سنی نوجوانان انتخاب میشد چون زبان خیلی ساده ای داشت و به نظر شخصی من برای اون سن جذابیت بیشتری داشت تا بزرگسالان. دوم اینکه دو سوم ابتدایی کتاب واقعا اتفاق خیلی خاصی نمیفتاد که درگیر داستان بشی، بلکه فقط زندگی روزمره آدم هایی رو به قلم در آورده بود که درگیر جنگ هستند و این ک
...more
Nichole
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
...more
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
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
Erin
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
...more
Becky
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
...more
Philip
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
...more
Patrice
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
Paula Soper
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, ya, 2017
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
...more
Aisha Yousef
قصة قصيرة، كتبت للأطفال، و لكن في صفحاتها القليلة، أحداث عديدة، أليمة .. جداً

تتحدث الرّاوية الكورية عن سنوات طفولتها أثناء الاحتلال الياباني لكوريا، عندما أجبر الكوريين على الانسلاخ من كل ما يربطهم بكوريا، لغتهم، عاداتهم، كل شيء، حتى أسماءهم لم يستطيعوا الاحتفاظ بها كما أجبروا على اقتلاع شجيرات الورد التي ترمز لثقافتهم، و أجبروا على زراعة تلك الممثلة لليابان .. و مع بداية الحرب العالمية الثانية، ازدادت الأوضاع سوءًا، و أصبحت الحياة أشبه ما تكون بالموت ، و قد سطرت الرّاوية قليلاً من كثير عن تلك
...more
Jessica
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
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.
Feisty Harriet
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: korea, world-war-ii
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.
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
...more
Lauren
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
MaryAnn
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
...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.
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.
Jerry
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Score- 77/100

SCORE BREAKDOWN
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
...more
Jasmine
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
Mary
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a middle-grade book that delivers a story about a brother and sister who live in Korea during WWII
Japan had gained control of Korea and made huge changes that basically took away the identity of Koreans.
Ms. Park did a great job portraying the family individually and did extensive historical research. I learned so much thanks to this book!# Recommend!!!
Amélie Hartley
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much!
Nola Redd
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bought tears to my eyes
Neha
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“How could an alphabet—letters that didn't even mean anything by themselves—be important?
But it was important. Our stories, our names, our alphabet. Even Uncle's newspaper. It was all about words. If words weren't important, they wouldn't try so hard to take them away" (page 49). When My Name Was Keoko, by Linda Sue Park, is a fascinating book about Korea under Japenese occupation in World War II. It is written in the perspectives of Sun-hee and Tae-yul, two Korean children, who are brother and
...more
Dorothy Zaugg
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Plot: The plot was very realistic. This book was based on a true story and everything tied together in the end. I learned a lot about Korea and Japan in World War II. This book also gives you an idea about what the Koreans and Japanese think about the Americans. The book made a lot of sense. It was easy to follow. Having two people narrating (Sun-Hee and Tae-Yul) helped me understand the book because it showed both sides of the story. There was nothing missing.
Setting: The book took place in Ko
...more
Marg
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
When my name was Keoko is historical fiction and gives the reader a snapshot of the hardships of life in Japanese-occupied Korea during the Second World War. Beginning in 1940, the Japanese Emperor issues orders that all Korean family members have to change their names to Japanese. It is why Sun-hee became Keoko.

The story is told by the two children, Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul, as they struggle to understand why the Japanese seem intent on destroying the culture of their proud country
...more
Rachel Craig
Ever since I lived in South Korea for eight months, I have been greatly interested in studying its history and its culture. Adult books on this topic I have read include The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture and A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty. I had never read anything written for children about Korea, and my knowledge of Korean history post World War 2 is lacking. I found this children's fiction book on my library's website and proceded to c ...more
Joey Zadina
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a great read for a reader of any age. It told the story of a young Korean girl and her brother, along with the rest of their family, and how they were repressed by the Japanese government and made to change their Korean names to Japanese names. Throughout this book, there is a story told of triumph in hard times, and of having pride in the culture that you are from. I was inspired by this book and I am sure that my students would be inspired by it as well.
I would use this book as
...more
Danielle
Jan 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Danielle by: College Literacy Class
Summary When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park (2004)

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 Japanese invaders during World War II. Everyone must help with war preparatio
...more
Cami
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
A tender tale of a Koren family during Japan's WWII occupation.
I feel a bit foolish for never considering what was happening to other Asiatic countries during WWII. It was a terrible removal of identity for them. Stripped of their language, national tree, flag, history and even their Korean names, the Korean people struggled with all the war efforts pressed upon them by their Japanese masters.

This is the fictional story of one family, told throught the eyes of Sun-Yee and Tae-Yul, sister and bro
...more
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501 followers
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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“A mistake made with good in your heart is still a mistake, but it is one for which you must forgive yourself.” 107 likes
“How could an alphabet—letters that didn't even mean anything by themselves—be important?
But it was important. Our stories, our names, our alphabet. Even Uncle's newspaper.
It was all about words.
If words weren't important, they wouldn't try so hard to take them away.”
22 likes
More quotes…