A gruelling yet profound read!
- Book: White Chrysanthemum
- Location: North Korea, Northeast (Manchuria), South Korea
- Author: Mary Lynn Bracht
Two Korean sisters live in a small community of women divers (Haenyeo) on an island off the tip of South Korea.
It is during the time of the Japanese occupation & one of the sisters is captured by a Japanese soldier.
At this point the story divides into recounting what happens to Hana, the captured sister, in 1943 & her sister Emi’s attempts to find her lost sister in the present day.
The use of “tens of thousands” of Korean women as “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers in WW2 is quite well known now, but knowing that this practice existed does not make it any easier to read about!
For anyone of a delicate disposition, some of the scenes may be just too much to bear.
What was heart-warming was Hana’s refusal to give up hope & how Emi never forgot her sister, who sacrificed herself to save her younger sibling.
There are beautiful descriptions of Jeju Island, in Korea & of Mongolia, where the abducted Hana ends up.
Incredibly well-written, with a haunting spareness to the prose.