“We cannot help but be interested in the stories of people that history pushes aside so thoughtlessly.”
When I visited Korea 5 years back, I couldn’t imagine that this beautiful and advanced nation has seen such dark days in the past. Having worked for a Korean company for almost 3 years I was exposed to Korean culture to some extent. I was always amazed by the hard-working nature of Koreans, sometimes even to the point of being self-destruction. But reading this book gave me a glimpse into their history and explained to me how hard work and struggle have become an inherent part of Korean culture.
This book is a multi-generational saga of 4 generations of a working-class Korean family spanning Japan and later America. In the early 1900s, a teenage girl Sunja fall in love with a businessman and got pregnant. Later when she got to know that he is married she refused to be her mistress. A young paster visiting her mother’s lodge offers to marry her and took her with him to Japan, where his brother is staying with his family. But his decision to reject his son’s rich father and the historical events spins off a family drama that trickles down for generations.
I feel the family values of Korean culture are very close to Indian culture. And hence, I really enjoyed reading about the family dynamics of this family and was able to relate to it too. I also read recently, Kim Ji-young: Born 1982, where I learned about the gender inequality issues prevalent in Korea. And hence, the prejudices of the male member in the book to dislike working women and preference for the male child didn’t come as a shocker this time.
The book is divided into 3 parts, each covering a different period of time and generation. However, the last part of the book seems a little bit rushed to me, adding too many different stories which were not needed. But the first 2 part of the book is beautiful and gripping. And for that only I would recommend this book to everyone.
Why you should read this book?
- To read about some beautiful human dynamics in family and freindship.
- To feel the pain of immigrants who seek refuge from their own war-torn country. What it feels like to have identity crisis.
- To learn about the history and culture of Korea
- To understand how war effects worker class community and change lives of people spanning generations
- To get a glimpse of the racial differences and prejudices in Asian countries
In conclusion, I highly recommend this book. It is a long one but it is worth your time. This book has been picked by Apple Tv for a television series set to release this year. I am now eagerly waiting for it and I really want to see how these characters are adopted in person.