When My Name Was Keoko

by Linda Sue Park

Growing up in occupied Korea during World War Two, Kim Sun-hee is ten years old when... read more

Growing up in occupied Korea during World War Two, Kim Sun-hee is ten years old when she learns that she and her family, like all Koreans, must take new Japanese names. Overnight she becomes Kaneyama Keoko and her 13-year-old brother, Tae-yul, becomes Nobuo. This is just the latest in a long string of new laws aimed at suppressing Korean culture. Already Sun-hee has excelled in Japanese at school where speaking, writing, and reading Korean is forbidden, to such an extent that she is sometimes called chin-il-pa (lover of Japan). Spanning the years between 1940 and 1945, the story unfolds in the alternating points of view of Sun-hee and Tae-yul, who respond quite differently to the same events. Whereas Tae-Yul wants to follow in the footsteps of their politically subversive uncle who works for the underground, Sun-Hee tries to follow the example set by her scholarly father, quietly subversive in his own right as he struggles to maintain a Korean identity for his family. Winner, CCBC Newbery Award Discussion; Honor Book, CCBC Printz Award Discussion (Ages 11-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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