Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Comfort Woman" by Nora Okja Keller

"Comfort Woman" is a story about a mother(Akiko, aka Soon-Hyo) who has a past she wants to keep hidden from her daughter,Beccah(Baek-hab), their relationship, and their struggle to survive.

I liked how the author used different aspect of culture within the story. Even though I'm not that familiar with Korean folklores and the customs, while reading the book it reminded me of what my mother used to tell me when I was little. I remember my mother telling me about the story of the frog, which did everything the opposite, when I didn't obey or did what my mother told me to.

It reminded me of the time how my mother seemed so angry and in pain at the same time when she talked about her mother being so obsessed with the shaman belief because she had lost so many children through miscarriages and at childbirth. Furthermore, her first born daughter was mute and deaf, my mother almost died from a dreadful fever and my uncle, the youngest and the only son, suffered from polio and as a result was crippled. My grandmother, may her soul rest in peace, was told by a shaman that she would have no luck in raising a child, that she was destined not to have one at all, did everything she could possibly do to have children and raise them healthy. Hence, my mother had to live all kinds of shaman rituals performed in the house and was dragged from temple to temple giving offerings to the gods.

The love a mother has towards her children and how protective she can become is portrayed in this book.

The hard part of reading this book was me trying to figure out all the Korean words that were written in italics, trying to make sense of everything knowing Korean. Also, the topic being on comfort woman, it did have some disturbing imagery that you just couldn't blot out. She described the awful part very vividly and she does that in ther other book "Fox Girl" as well. "Fox Girl" is a story of a girl who becomes a prostitute in a military camp town in the 1960s.

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