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Banned Book Club

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,414 ratings  ·  381 reviews
When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published May 19th 2020 by Iron Circus Comics
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Ardith It would be just fine for YA readers. There is a little bit of violence, no nudity or sex.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,414 ratings  ·  381 reviews

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MissBecka Gee
The intentions in this historical fiction graphic are impressive.
The illustrations are not as exciting as I wold have liked, but it almost seemed on purpose...
whether it was or not...don't tell me.
Despite this taking place in Korea, the content is highly relevant to North America right now.
Give it a whirl and get down with some Korean revolutionaries.
Thanks to NetGalley & Letter Better Publishing Services for my DRC.
Alexander Peterhans
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
It's 1983 in South Korea, and a brutal militaristic regime wields power. A group of university students hold secret meetings, where they discuss books that are forbidden by the regime and political news that is being suppressed. This means that they have to be careful of the secret service, who are constantly on the lookout for 'communists' and other subversives.

Kim Hyun Sook is a freshman, who becomes a part of the group, first thinking they're a regular book club. She soon finds out how danger
Now THIS is a graphic memoir I want to put in everybody's hands. It's such an important one! It's important to learn about history, and not just about your own country's. It's important to learn about what happened and what is still going on in the world. This graphic memoir does this so brilliantly. It talks about fighting for democracy, fighting for what is right, fighting every single day because there's always something to work on. The fact that I also absolutely adored the art made this rea ...more
Rod Brown
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it
The art and storytelling is clunky, but the importance of the topic carries the day for me. I do love me a triumph over censorship story.

I have reservations about the veracity of this book as the marketing seems to present it as a memoir. I dislike that the back cover says that this is a "dramatic true story" while the text buried at the back of the book says the writers took "ingredients" of true stories and "sliced, diced, and blended them into one narrative starring a handful of amalgamated c
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
A great way to learn about growing up in South Korea during a tumultuous time. Hyun Sook matriculates to her local university and hopes to have her world open up to new knowledge. The knowledge she obtains isn't just the kind you find in books. She learns to look closer at what is happening in the machinations of the government. She surrounds herself with young adults eager to change their country and open their minds to new ideas.

I wanted more detail, but it is a great beginning to this part o
Sarah Marie
Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, & Ryan Estrada

4.75 stars

This is a fictionalized account of Kim Hyun Sook’s time in college during the strict and oppressive rule of South Korea’s Fifth Republic. During this time in 1983, riots were common at the universities and protests occurred to fight against the censorship and dictatorship that was occurring. This graphic novel is based on real events, but blended together to protect the identity of many real people who fought for things to c

Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
Thanks to Iron Circus Comic and Edelweiss for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this comic so much I swallowed it in one sitting. I'm always moved when authors take history and bring it to a level that people can easily read and understand. This story follows Hyun Sook as she leaves for college against her parents wishes. While at college, she gets sucked into a secret banned book club led by a group of student protestors.

I appreciated everything about this book. The story reflec
Camille Oquendo
Based on a true story, Banned Book Club tells of Kim Hyun Sook, a South Korean woman who finds herself joining an underground banned book club in the 1980's. During this time, the political climate in South Korea consisted of a corrupt government that banned Western literature and a military regime that obtained power through censoring, torturing and murdering protesters that were involved in consuming such content.

We see Sook come into college with the mindset that she's only there to study, le
Rachel Hyland
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am ashamed to say I knew next to nothing about South Korean politics before reading this most excellent graphic novel -- just that once the nation was under the thumb of China, and that the US waged a war there in the 1950s, fighting against the communist regime in the north.

It did not go well.

But this account of the naive Hyun Sook, newly at university in 1983 and learning about her own nation's political travails for the first time, changed all of that. In just 200 or so short, informative
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely way to experience history. This book takes multiple real life stories to give the reader a fictionalized “true” version of the protests in 1983 lead by college students. Most of it is the story of the author, but for privacy reason has changed many names and consolidated some stories.

It all starts with the government banning certain literature. Particularly Western literature. Kim wants to read these stories. She wants to study literature. But her mother is not happy. She should be
Scottsdale Public Library
Kim Hyun Sook is a freshman at college. Much to her excitement, her love of reading gets her invited to a book club. But it turns out this club reads books that have been banned by her government(early 80s South Korea). Even though that makes her very nervous, she stays in the group. She ends up making friends in the club, and soon starts attending student protests with them.
Banned Book Club is a portrait of Korea in the 1980s, being young and realizing that not everything you ha
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, arcs, graphic-novels
DANG I had no idea this shizz was going on in South Korea! I thought they were the SANE Korea! So, very historically enlightening, but I apparently do not like manga style. Gave it a shot and it bothered me the whole time. BUT I learned a lot!
I received this book through NetGalley last week Thursday. I tried to read it with the Virtual Silent Book Club but our power went out. (knocked down power lines - no worries there.) I only mention this because I wanted - no needed - to finish this book so badly that I read it through the early morning hours with a head lamp. This book is actually a composite biography/memoir about the military regime in South Korea. Which is kind of funny because typically when we in the United States hear the ...more
Elizabeth A
What reader can resist a book with a title like that?

This YA graphic memoir is set "during South Korea's Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protesters."

The author overrides he mother's wishes and attends college to study Western Lit. Things do not go quite as she planned, and she's soon swept along with a protest group.

The illustration style is a tad too sketchy for my taste, and the narrative thrust is often uneven, but I
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
This graphic novel presents university life during the democracy protests in 1980s South Korea. A group of university students go through hardships, arrest, and torture in order to fight for what they believe. This story is inspiring. To see what the students go through to stand up for what they believe make you reflect on how much you are willing to do to do the same. Well worth reading.
This graphic novel was AMAZING and a book that everyone should read. The book is timely and relevant. I saw so many similarities between what was happening in Korean in 1983, currently around the world and what is happening in America today: a narcissist leader creating his own laws, dividing the country, attacking and discrediting the media and journalists, creating fake news, censoring people and media, a scapegoating and creating a common "enemy" to detract people.

Highly, highly recommended.
Rich in Color
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss

As long as there have been books, there have been people trying to control them. In this graphic novel memoir, we’re able to see this in play during the 80s in South Korea. College students continued to read banned materials even when the consequences for being caught were quite grim.

The story opens with a family argument. Hyun Sook’s mother does not understand why the college students, and her daughter specifically, feel that things need to be different. Sh
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-reviews
ARC given by NetGalley for Honest Review

Banned Book Club is definitely a story of our time while being told about the past. In the political climate of today's world this is an incredible look back to a time of censorship and fascism in Korea. Hyun Sook is invited to join a banned book club and while apprehensive at first she realizes over time that being apathetic about politics can be more detrimental than not. Her and her friends use her colleges tools and clubs as means to secretly defy the
I started college in 1982, one year before Kim Hyun Sook. Our college experiences were totally different. On the other side of the world, she was working with fellow students to effect change in her country. Her story is amazing. The narrative was interesting and fast paced. I finished the book in a little over an hour. There is so much I never knew about the political situation in South Korea. This book really opened my eyes to a world so different from my own. It is a must-read, and I highly r ...more
Briar's Reviews
Yay for another graphic novel to add to my list! One of my 2020 goals was increasing the amount of graphic novels I've read (and have on my shelves) and this book seemed perfect!

Our lead, Kim, goes off to college to learn bright and new things. Suddenly, she's found herself apart of a book club but not just any book club... it reads banned books, which is quite the scandal in South Korea during the 80s. This political true story is an incredible read and I think it's in the perfect format to te
Jessica Haider
In this graphic novel memoir, Kim Hyun Sook tells of her time in college in South Korea in the 1980s. During this time there was much unrest and the college students frequently protested against corruption in the police force and the government. Hyun Sook was studying literature and a fellow student approached her about joining a banned book club. At first she was nervous about joining because students from another university had recently been arrested for being in a similar club. Many books tha ...more
And once again (hi Pachinko! hi Please Look After Mom!) I learn that I know next to nothing about South Korean history. ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not only was this wonderfully done, well told and illustrated, but I was pleased by how very timely the book seems still, as we ourselves are in the middle of protests. The specific time and place matter in this book--and it is a thing I did not know about at the time! But also the fear of police, the friendships bolstering courage, the need to keep fighting and even demonstrate in the future--all this seems very much like what we need to see today, and so does the choices of the young woman pro ...more
This book takes a look at the corruption in South Korea in the 1980s, when the author was in college. Based on her life, but with peoples experiences and names moved around and mixed up, we get a good idea about what was going on in those times.

Yum Sook joins a banned book club, because reading banned books gives you a good idea what the authorities don’t want you to read about.

This looks at one year of her life, int he group, and what they’d I’d with their time, and how they help protests. At
Janis Kay
This was thrilling. I know almost nothing about South Korean history, save for the general stuff, and this has me itching to learn more about this crucial time period in their history. I generally new that student protests were commonplace back then, but I never knew that the South Korea that we know had a very uphill battle towards the democracy that they have now. Kim Hyun Sook is just your average university student when she gets swept up in a tidal force that helped shape her country into wh ...more
delph ✨
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Find my full review on my blog: here

An e-ARC was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange of an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

There are a bunch of book I want people to read. First, the books I love so much and mean everything to me. Then, books like BANNED BOOK CLUB. I mean, it’s not my favorite book ever but it’s a book everybody should read because it’s an important one, because we should know more about history and what happened even if it didn’t h
A quick but very affective read! Banned Book Club is a manhwa (Korean comic) memoir following Kim Hyun Sook, who began attending university in South Korea in 1983 intending to stick to studying, but got drawn into political protest through a banned book club instead.

Not knowing much about Korean history, all of the events contained in this book were new to me, but the authors did a great job of explaining the key points to understand the plot. The Korean political climate as shown here reminded
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada, 197 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Iron Circus Comics, 2020. $15.

Language: PG (2 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



All Hyun Sook wants is to go to college and continue her education. With protests all over the campus, her mom tries to get her to stay home by saying it’s too dangerous to go. Nevertheless, Hyun Sook enrolls in classes and even looks into extracurricular activities --
M.L. Little
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
@kidlitexchange Partner: Banned Book Club by @ironcircus and @ryanestradadotcom. Releases TODAY! Happy book birthday! 📚 🎂
Banned Book Club is an autobiographical graphic novel (I’ve always loved that concept) by Kim Hyon Sook. Suitable for high school or college students, Banned Book Club describes Hyon Sook’s experiences as a college student during President Chun’s era in South Korea. A literature student, Hyon Sook quickly found herself swept up into the political fervor of college, joining a
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Kim Hyun Sook was born in Changwon, South Korea. She became a member of a banned book club in the 1980s while studying English Language and Literature. She has co-written comics for websites including The Nib and Oh Joy Sex Toy and she translated Lady Rainicorn's dialogue for Adventure Time comics. She now runs a new banned book club in Busan, where she lives with her husband and her cat, Dog Baby ...more

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