In 1919 Pyongyang, Jade is sold to Madam Silver who will train her as a courtesan. But when Madam Silver’s daughter, Luna is raped, she sends Luna, Lotus, and Jade to her cousin, Dani in Seoul to hide Luna’s pregnancy. Aunt Dani continues their training while JungHo heads south to Seoul in search of a better life after his father’s death. Under Japanese occupation, underground movements form in the hope of gaining independence.
This novel takes place over fifty years following the lives of these characters and Korea’s struggle to break free from Japan’s strangling grip.
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 traditional obedient wife, arranges a position for her daughter 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. And I’ve decided to reblog this exceptional book because of the current controversy on Twitter over a Nike advertisement depicting racism in Japan.
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.