Race to Freedom
In the novel Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi, the main character Sookan is telling her experience during the time Korea split into North and South Korea. Sookan is also telling her experience when she flees to South Korea during the expansion of communism. Sookan and her family struggle to survive, and stay motivated in degrading and dangerous events ("Sook Nyul Choi." Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults). The setting of the novel takes place during 1945 to 1946, during the time of the Japanese occupation and the introduction to communism. In August 1945, Japan lost to the Allies (Clark 18). When they lost to the Allies, they also lost their empire on the Asian mainland (Clark 18). The United States and Soviet Red Army have control over the split of Korea and the formation of a new government for them. The border that separates North and South Korea is the 38th parallel (Clark 19). Many people living in North Korea made attempts of fleeing to South Korea, which the United States had control over and did not participate in communism.
The novel starts of in P’yŏngyang, Korea during the Japanese occupation, which is near the end of World War II. The main character, Sookan, is ten years old living under the cruel treatment during the Japanese occupation ("Sook Nyul Choi." Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults). After the Japanese occupation, she also dealt with the Russian takeover of northern Korea. Sookan expresses the trials and tribulation she deals with in her life, with herself and her family ("Sook Nyul Choi." Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults). Captain Narita is the antagonist in the novel. He is cruel and insensitive. He kills one of her older sisters, sends her brothers to labor camps, and sends Sookan’s mother away to be a house cleaner for a rich family in Africa, but she was able to leave after a couple years. Sookan’s father was a Korean spy in Japan, which caused her not to be able to see her father for five years. Sookan’s younger brother, Inchun, was one of the main priorities she has, and the relationship they had throughout the novel was very loving because they helped each other get through the hard times ("Sook Nyul Choi." Authors and Artists for Young Adults). Sookan is running to South Korea for freedom, along with Inchun and her mother (Choi 118). However, her mother does not make it to South Korea. The novel is Choi’s experience during this time and some actual events that have happened in her life ("Sook Nyul Choi." Authors and Artists for Young Adults).
When the Japanese was in control, they used the Korean men and women more like slaves. The Japanese would usually send the men to labor camps. In the novel, Sookan’s brothers involuntarily worked in the labor camps. Sookan’s cousin Kisa was exempt because of his injuries. The Japanese would make the women be a house servant or sex slaves. Sookan’s mother is a...