During World War II, the Japanese forced 200,000 young Korean women to be sex slaves or "comfort women" for their soldiers. This is one woman's riveting story of strength, courage, and promises kept. (From the back of the book)
For two years, fourteen year old Je-hee was forced to be a "comfort woman," serving the Japanese men, sometimes as many as thirty a day. In between, there were beatings. Many young women were killed or committed suicide. At the end of the war, she had to make a new life for herself, hiding the shame of her past. We all know how hard it would be to put something so traumatic out of our minds and move on. It colored every interaction she had for the rest of her life.
Though this is a fictional story, it reads like a biography. I absolutely believed everything could have really happened. Set against the backdrop of World War II and the Korean War, I learned about the different political beliefs of the time, and it gave me a greater understanding of our history. It also taught me some about the Korean culture and how proud they are. In fact, Ja-hee is torn between wanting to tell, shout from the rooftops, what happened to her and the Koren way of yi--the duty they have to their families, ancestors, and country first. At one point, she is told it would have been more honorable to refuse and be shot by the Japanese, rather than continue to serve them. Unbelievable to me, and to her. She survived and was stronger for having done it. Her story, and that of all the comfort women, needs to be told.