This book should not be taught nor readI can't believe what publishers will do to sell books.  This book is moral sewage and innocent children are being poisoned by reading this book. Please don't...

This book should not be taught nor read

I can't believe what publishers will do to sell books.  This book is moral sewage and innocent children are being poisoned by reading this book.

Please don't be fooled by the well-written narrative.  This book is akin to an escape narrative of an SS officer's family from Birkenow Auschwitz concentration camp where their father worked as a Nazi officer while cruel freed Jews are rabidly intent on exacting revenge on the Nazi officers and their innocent Nazi families.  Should a sympathetic story of a KKK clan family members escaping from angry African American be taught to children?  Should we teach sympathetic perspectives of Pol Pot's family???  Please consider why this would be wrong!

Teaching such a narrative without proper understanding of context is distortion of historical reality and inexcusable moral irresponsibility. The fact that this book is being taught to children across the US is a travesty born out of ignorance of East Asian history.

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Well, I haven't read the book, but based on all the comments here and the controversy it has stirred up, I am certainly intrigued to add it to my large stack of books waiting for me on my bedside table.  This is the very reason why I encourage my students to read every banned book they can grab.  While we may not agree with what a book reveals to us, as long as it makes us think and to consider our viewpoints and reasons for those viewpoints, we come to know ourselves better and are more comfortable with our place in the world.  Also, the more you know about the other side and how they think, the better we can relate to differences and perhaps the closer we will come to compromise.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

This type of book is the reason why inaccuracies in so-called historical books, movies, and televisions programs bother me so much. There is a program on the History International Channel called "Naked Archaeologist." Simcha Jacoboviski, the host, present the bare, naked fact about biblical history. In one episode, he asked a scholar something like "Suppose that 500 years from now an archaeologist finds documents about World War II. But it is all from the Nazi point of view. Nothing is found to support the other side. What will historians be led to believe?"

What we are most exposed to becomes the truth for us.

booksnmore's profile pic

booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Do you see any value in reading it and discussing it in juxtaposition with other texts? I was just reading this review of When My Name Was Keoko where it recommends reading that book alongside Year of Impossible Goodbyes and So Far From the Bamboo Grove. Couldn't children learn through discussion of various historical perspectives? It's been a very long time since I read it, so I readily admit that I cannot remember the story in detail. I do, however, recall a review a few years ago by a prominent Korean author (though the name escapes me) in which she advocated reading the book. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

My father had his hometown in the Philippines overrun by the Japanese when he was 5.  He lost his father and at least one uncle to Japanese action, either military or "civilian."  Yet he is able to understand that not all Japanese were culpable for what happened to him.

I would agree with my father that it is individuals who do evil and that a child, especially, can not possibly be culpable for the actions of an entire country.

 

ktnorton67's profile pic

ktnorton67 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I loved this book. There was so much thought put into it. It was like you were taken along in the journey. So what if it's sad... it is a great book and you SHOULD read it.

spencermoore's profile pic

spencermoore | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Okay, I'm reading this in class. I don't have the book and I'm being home-schooled for the rest of the year by my teachers... I don't plan on going to get this book either. It's a waste of money on my part because I don't like reading books like this. I would like for someone to please tell me something about this so I can write a "one page summary" on it as my teacher said and E-Mail it to her. It would be totally awesome if you could. I'm not the greedy to not go look it up on google. I have tried, and nothing has come up. I don't feel like asking my mom to take me to the book store or library for that fact when I could read it online or better yet learn about here, can someone please help me?

 

-Spencer : )

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

3. The Japanese also conscripted an estimated 100,00 to 200,000 teenage girls and women into forced sexual slavery for its military (http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/06/news/06iht-book_4.html).  Many prominent Japanese politicians and academics openly deny this and claim the comfort women were well paid sex workers in spite of testimonies of repentant Japanese soldiers and the few 'comfort women' still living.(http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/16/world/asia/16cnd-japan.html, )

 

4. Yoko's father worked for same regional government in Manchuria where Unit 731 was located and where Korean, Chinese civilians were used to develop biological weapons and perform medical experiments.  Vivasections were performed on men and even pregnant women without anesthesia.  Biological weapons were tested on human subjects.  These weapons were even used on the US (http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/21/world/japanese-veteran-testifies-in-war-atrocity-lawsuit.html).

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

 

We will never know to what extent Yoko's father was directly or indirectly involved with Japanese war crimes but here's some historical context that is sacrificed at the cost Watkins' fictional retelling of her REAL story so her and her family can be portrayed as protagonists:

1. Japanese policy in Korea was one of cultural genocide (http://www.cgs.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/workshops_e/w_2004_02_23_e.html) through attempted eradication of Korean language, history, and forced adoption of Japanese names, etc..

2. According to R.J. Rummel's “Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1990”, 5.4 million Koreans were conscripted into forced labor and shipped all over Russia, China, Japan.  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, died under murderous working conditions and untold millions were never repatriated.  Their descendants still live in remote areas of Russia, China and constitute the largest minority population in Japan living through what the UN Human Rights Rapporteur described as "deep and profound racism" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4671687.stm).

 

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Well, I haven't read the book, but based on all the comments here and the controversy it has stirred up, I am certainly intrigued to add it to my large stack of books waiting for me on my bedside table.  This is the very reason why I encourage my students to read every banned book they can grab.  While we may not agree with what a book reveals to us, as long as it makes us think and to consider our viewpoints and reasons for those viewpoints, we come to know ourselves better and are more comfortable with our place in the world.  Also, the more you know about the other side and how they think, the better we can relate to differences and perhaps the closer we will come to compromise.

 Unless you are already informed about Japan's war atrocities in WWII and the racist revisionism that still lingers in Japan to this day you'll find the book is pretty unalarming within its own narrative.  But that's why what the book portrays through selective omission makes it insidious.  It's like being introduced to the Civil Rights Movement by having a student read a sympathetic narrative about a KKK family fleeing from cruel revenge seeking blacks and Civil Rights activists.  It's hard to imagine but think about how such a narrative will color and frame your understanding of that era in history if you had no preconceptions about history of slavery in US and Civil Rights Movement?  We all have a duty to make an educated, informed and SUBJECTIVE judgment about what to read and teach.

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

My father had his hometown in the Philippines overrun by the Japanese when he was 5.  He lost his father and at least one uncle to Japanese action, either military or "civilian."  Yet he is able to understand that not all Japanese were culpable for what happened to him.

I would agree with my father that it is individuals who do evil and that a child, especially, can not possibly be culpable for the actions of an entire country.

 

Of course you don't demonize an entire nation.  No one's proposing that.  Let's not attack that strawman.  Being a moral being and is to use logic and reasoning to make subjective judgments about what books should be read, taught to children and the like.  Do we teach stories where the protagonists are KKK families and Nazis???  No we don't and for good reason.  The same applies here.

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Do you see any value in reading it and discussing it in juxtaposition with other texts? I was just reading this review of When My Name Was Keoko where it recommends reading that book alongside Year of Impossible Goodbyes and So Far From the Bamboo Grove. Couldn't children learn through discussion of various historical perspectives? It's been a very long time since I read it, so I readily admit that I cannot remember the story in detail. I do, however, recall a review a few years ago by a prominent Korean author (though the name escapes me) in which she advocated reading the book. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

That helps but the real solution is to return this book on the shelf along with Mein Kompf and neo-Nazi, KKK, 'literature'.  My Name was Keoko is historically accurate.  In Watkins' book, historically facts were changed to present herself as the protagonist of her story.  It really is like having kids read a story about a Nazi family's escape from vengeful Jews and Poles from Auschwits and then having them read Diaries of Anne Frank.  Really we need to think about that.

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I teach AP English In Korea and a day doesn't go by where I do not hear the phrase "comfort women" or "Japanese revisionism" even where it concerns history between Korea and Japan. I do not believe that all people feel this way, nor all people will feel this way in the future. I can understand why some people will revise history for their benefit. But most ofr the contents in the book don't seem to add up and there are very mysterious things in the book that can't be true.

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

This book is selfish and sugar coated moral poison written by an author who's family was part of sordid chapter of human history.  Nazi revisionism and KKK ideology influenced material shouldn't be in our classrooms and neither should Yoko Watkin's book.

melonbarmonster's profile pic

melonbarmonster | Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

There are no bamboos in NK.  There were no communist soldiers when Yoko's family left for Japan and there certainly were no US bombings.  The Japanese retreat occurred under heavy military protection.  Furthermore, Mrs. Watkin's family was in North Korea to expand and subjugate Korea and China under an Imperial Japan driven by racist ideology that saw the Japanese Emperor as being a DIVINE being and the Japanese race as a superior race destined to rule as much of the world as it can conquer including all of Asia, Pacific and even western US.

ktnorton67's profile pic

ktnorton67 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Okay, I'm reading this in class. I don't have the book and I'm being home-schooled for the rest of the year by my teachers... I don't plan on going to get this book either. It's a waste of money on my part because I don't like reading books like this. I would like for someone to please tell me something about this so I can write a "one page summary" on it as my teacher said and E-Mail it to her. It would be totally awesome if you could. I'm not the greedy to not go look it up on google. I have tried, and nothing has come up. I don't feel like asking my mom to take me to the book store or library for that fact when I could read it online or better yet learn about here, can someone please help me?

 

-Spencer : )

get your lazy butt up and read the book. it'll be worth it

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