Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim

“,“Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim,

A real story of a South Korean ““comfort woman”” (sexual slave) forced to work for the Japanese military during World War 2. This story is told through flashbacks and snippets of interviews with Lee Ok-Sun. This book is in black and white. This graphic novel doesn’t dwell in the gore, and violence. The most brutal scenes in the book is the black page where Ok-sun explains how she was raped in speech bubbles. I really liked the authors use of brush strokes, and the metaphor of ‘grass’ too.

This graphic novel does a good job of taking a heartbreaking, terrible story and breaking it down to human scale. The broad strokes of WW2 are in there for those who don’t know their history so well, but this story squarely focuses on the terrible suffering imposed on these girls and young woman.

It’s amazing how fast Japan was ““rehabilitated”” after the war and these war crimes were quickly ‘forgotten’. Germany has made amends, and as a society ‘faced’ their wartime atrocities much more than Japan has. It doesn’t really feel like ‘comfort woman’ or the Rape of Nanjing has really been dealt with in Japan.

I must warn you though, this books is hard to read. The rape, poverty, humiliation, cruelty are truly awful, but incredible bravery and grit of these women shines through too. There aren’t many Korean ‘comfort women’ left but Japan keeps trying to minimize and ignore the pain of these women. It’s despicable. This is a very important book so we don’t forget.

As others have pointed out, the author inserts herself in the end of the book and it’s a shame she didn’t let her work stand on its own. That last chapter where she tries to visit the present day locations of ‘comfort stations’ doesn’t really add much to this great book.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #23 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #GraphicNovel #War #ComfortWomen #Japan #TranslatedFiction”,

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