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When My Name Was Keoko
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When My Name Was Keoko

By Linda Sue Park
2002, 199 pages, hardback.
Book Description from Back Cover
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Book Description from the Front Cover Flap

For Kim Sun-hee's whole life, Korea has belonged to Japan. Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, have grown up studying Japanese and speaking it at school. Their own language, Korean, can be spoken only at home, and some Korean things—like the flag—are not to be spoken of at all. When the Emperor of Japan decrees that all Koreans must take Japanese names, Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. It is just one more step in a familiar process, but somehow it changes everything.

Then World War II comes to Korea. No battles are fought on Korean soil, yet soldiers are everywhere. At school, the students have war preparation duties instead of classes. But making Koreans take Japanese names has not turned them into loyal subjects, ready to fight for Japan. When Tae-yul sees a chance to help his beloved uncle, whom the Japanese suspect of aiding the Korean resistance, he leaves home. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.

When My Name Was Keoko is a World War II novel with a difference: two parallel stories seamlessly interwoven into a taut, compelling narrative that illuminates the wartime experience in occupied Korea.

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Background on

Linda Sue park is the acclaimed author of A Single Shard, which was awarded the Newbery Medal; Seesaw Girl; and The Kite Fighters.

The daughter of Korean immigrants, Linda Sue was born and raised in Illinois and has been writing poems and stories all her life. Her first published work was a poem in a children's magazine when she was nine. Today, she lives with her husband and their two children in western New York. You can visit her website at

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