In 1943 Hana, a haenyeo rushes from Jeju Island’s sea to save her younger sister, Emi from capture by Japanese soldiers. In her place, Hana is kidnapped and sent on a long journey north to become a comfort woman. But before she arrives at the northern brothel to service Japanese soldiers she is raped by her captor, Morimoto.
This is a well written but a difficult read because the story is based on what happened to from 50 000 to 200 000 Korean women during WW11.
Najin doesn’t want to live a traditional Korean life, but her father tries to force her into a marriage with an aristocratic family. Her mother, defying the obedient wife tradition, arranges a position for her in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. With Japan’s control over the country and the dying monarchy, Najin’s life becomes oppressive. When she unexpectedly finds love, they are soon separated and she must face Japan’s attack on China and Pearl Harbour while her husband is an ocean away.
In the early 1900s when Sunja falls pregnant, she refuses to be mistress to a wealthy man she discovers is already married. Instead she accepts an offer of marriage from a minister and they soon leave Korea for Japan.
This is a four generational tale exploring Japan’s attitude towards Koreans as well as the family’s struggles to survive. A compelling story.