Year of Impossible Goodbyes

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Not able to control its own country, Korea is taken over by the oppressions of both Japan and Russia. In the novel Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook (Sookan) Nyul Choi, we are taken through her life as she grows up under the influences of Japan and Russia. Her family is separated while Japan ruled over them; when the Russians move in, her family is torn between North and South Korea; the 38th Parallel is all that separates them. Soon Sookan, as well as her mother and brother, find all means of escape to be free in the South.

Japan and its people moved over to Korea and had begun treating Korean as slaves as the oppression began. Even at a young age, Sookan and other children were forced to go to a Japanese school, speak Japanese, and sing the Japanese national anthem. Some Koreans had punishments for not obeying the Japanese; punishments such as being beaten, being fussed at, or never heard from or seen again. Koreans were pushed to support and help the Japanese military since they were protecting them from the “white devils”. Children made spears, sharpened glass and rocks, while the adults ran factories, such as Sookan’s mother. Sookan’s mother ran a sock factory to provide socks for the military. Daily, their production was checked up on. Sock production had been slow one day, and as a punishment, the sock girls were taken away to live on the front as “spirit girls”; they had to please and keep the solider spirits lifted during the war. Food was sparse and most of it was sent to the Japanese military, but it had been grown by the Koreans. The Japanese used the rice shortage to their advantage, as many Korean households were starving; if you are hungry you will do what you are told to get a nice, big bag of rice; this is where the Koreans were fooled. They would do their duties for the Japanese, but when it came to get rice, they would believe they are a plentiful bag, but once the bag was opened, it was filled with sand and some rice. Their heritage,...
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