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When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined. This was during South Korea's Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in. In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.


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When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined. This was during South Korea's Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in. In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.

30 review for Banned Book Club

  1. 4 out of 5

    MissBecka

    The intentions in this historical fiction graphic are impressive. The illustrations are not as exciting as I wold have liked, but it almost seemed on purpose... whether it was or not...don't tell me. Despite this taking place in Korea, the content is highly relevant to North America right now. Give it a whirl and get down with some Korean revolutionaries. Thanks to NetGalley & Letter Better Publishing Services for my DRC. The intentions in this historical fiction graphic are impressive. The illustrations are not as exciting as I wold have liked, but it almost seemed on purpose... whether it was or not...don't tell me. Despite this taking place in Korea, the content is highly relevant to North America right now. Give it a whirl and get down with some Korean revolutionaries. Thanks to NetGalley & Letter Better Publishing Services for my DRC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Peterhans

    It's 1983 in South Korea, and a brutal militaristic regime wields power. A group of university students hold secret meetings, where they discuss books that are forbidden by the regime and political news that is being suppressed. This means that they have to be careful of the secret service, who are constantly on the lookout for 'communists' and other subversives. Kim Hyun Sook is a freshman, who becomes a part of the group, first thinking they're a regular book club. She soon finds out how danger It's 1983 in South Korea, and a brutal militaristic regime wields power. A group of university students hold secret meetings, where they discuss books that are forbidden by the regime and political news that is being suppressed. This means that they have to be careful of the secret service, who are constantly on the lookout for 'communists' and other subversives. Kim Hyun Sook is a freshman, who becomes a part of the group, first thinking they're a regular book club. She soon finds out how dangerous the club is, but also how important these small acts of defiance are. So I had very little knowledge of the political situation in South Korea of the last 40 or so years. We only tend to reflect on North Korea, and this book makes clear how that is a mistake. It's actually quite shocking how close South Korea was to a authoritarian police state. It makes the book a riveting read. (Received a review copy through Edelweiss)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Romie

    Now THIS is a graphic memoir I want to put in everybody's hands. It's such an important one! It's important to learn about history, and not just about your own country's. It's important to learn about what happened and what is still going on in the world. This graphic memoir does this so brilliantly. It talks about fighting for democracy, fighting for what is right, fighting every single day because there's always something to work on. The fact that I also absolutely adored the art made this rea Now THIS is a graphic memoir I want to put in everybody's hands. It's such an important one! It's important to learn about history, and not just about your own country's. It's important to learn about what happened and what is still going on in the world. This graphic memoir does this so brilliantly. It talks about fighting for democracy, fighting for what is right, fighting every single day because there's always something to work on. The fact that I also absolutely adored the art made this reading experience even better. (4.25)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    The art and storytelling is clunky, but the importance of the topic carries the day for me. I do love me a triumph over censorship story. I have reservations about the veracity of this book as the marketing seems to present it as a memoir. I dislike that the back cover says that this is a "dramatic true story" while the text buried at the back of the book says the writers took "ingredients" of true stories and "sliced, diced, and blended them into one narrative starring a handful of amalgamated c The art and storytelling is clunky, but the importance of the topic carries the day for me. I do love me a triumph over censorship story. I have reservations about the veracity of this book as the marketing seems to present it as a memoir. I dislike that the back cover says that this is a "dramatic true story" while the text buried at the back of the book says the writers took "ingredients" of true stories and "sliced, diced, and blended them into one narrative starring a handful of amalgamated characters at a fictional university." And I found it odd that one of the real people mentioned in the book is called "Noh Moo-hyun," when his expressed (and mostly respected) preference was that his name be written in English as "Roh Moo-hyun."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Hi, I'm an ignorant American who was raised in the American public school system. I'm not dumb, and I try to learn on my own via reading books, magazine articles, web-based news (with a grain of salt) and watching various videos/documentaries online, but there are HUGE gaping holes in what I know. This graphic novel exposed one of those areas of lack of knowledge to me. I had NO IDEA that South Korea wasn't magically a democracy after the Korean War. I had no clue that there was a dictatorship an Hi, I'm an ignorant American who was raised in the American public school system. I'm not dumb, and I try to learn on my own via reading books, magazine articles, web-based news (with a grain of salt) and watching various videos/documentaries online, but there are HUGE gaping holes in what I know. This graphic novel exposed one of those areas of lack of knowledge to me. I had NO IDEA that South Korea wasn't magically a democracy after the Korean War. I had no clue that there was a dictatorship and that the people of South Korea had to fight and revolt for democracy. I just assumed they always were democratic after the war. You know what I think would be a good high school/college class? One about democracy around the world and how the people had to fight for it, and the places where they are still fighting for it. This book would be required reading for that class. Honestly, I think it should be required reading for all Americans in the school system. When I went to school at least, we didn't get a lot about other countries, at least, not that I remember. To be fair, that was a while ago. Also to be fair, I don't recall most of what I learned back then. Or at least I can't differentiate it from what I just "know" and don't know where I picked it up. Maybe from school, maybe from a book, who knows? So, back to the book. It was amazing and terrifying and I can't imagine living in fear of the Government and having to fight for basic rights like voting and reading what you want to read. Yes, America has it's issues, but I'm not afraid I'm going to be dragged to prison by the police, beaten to give up my friends and locked up without due process because I was seen reading 1984 or the Handmaid's Tale. America isn't perfect and it is always possible to go in the reverse re: human rights, but I think there are a lot of people who are extra vigilant about making sure we don't lose our rights, so we haven't back-slid to dystopia, yet. This book is a good way to keep us awake and aware and not take our rights for granted. Yes, they got violent. I'm not pro-violence at all, but I am not judging what they did to get the freedoms they deserved as human beings. I think they were immensely brave and they did things I don't know I would be able to do if I was in that situation. So thank you Kim Hyun Sook, for sharing this with the world. It needed to be said and shared and I am glad that I was able to read this book. This is one I will be recommending to everyone. 5, life isn't always how we think it is and sometimes we need to fight for it to be the way it should be, stars. My thanks to NetGalley and Letter Better Publishing Services/Iron Circus Comics for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Marie

    Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, & Ryan Estrada 4.75 stars This is a fictionalized account of Kim Hyun Sook’s time in college during the strict and oppressive rule of South Korea’s Fifth Republic. During this time in 1983, riots were common at the universities and protests occurred to fight against the censorship and dictatorship that was occurring. This graphic novel is based on real events, but blended together to protect the identity of many real people who fought for things to c Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, & Ryan Estrada 4.75 stars This is a fictionalized account of Kim Hyun Sook’s time in college during the strict and oppressive rule of South Korea’s Fifth Republic. During this time in 1983, riots were common at the universities and protests occurred to fight against the censorship and dictatorship that was occurring. This graphic novel is based on real events, but blended together to protect the identity of many real people who fought for things to change in South Korea. This graphic novel was so good! What an important novel to read amidst the protests in America. The story has so much to unpack and walk through. There is fear and the desire to rise up, the importance of literature being uncensored and not banned, what protests mean, the generational importance and metamorphosis of protests, family and values. So many wonderful themes and the friendships and simple scenes of slice of life living reminded me of real college students. This is a great graphic novel to give to high school students or freshman in college. I wrote so many papers on the topic of banned books in college, but I had never heard of this group of these protests. I’ve heard about the banning, but I didn’t know the impact of the people of South Korea protesting and speaking up. Whimsical Writing Scale: 5 Character Scale: 5 Plotastic Scale: 5 Art Scale: 4 Cover Thoughts: I love the different color schemes. Thank you, Netgalley and Iron Circus Comics, for providing me with a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hyland

    I am ashamed to say I knew next to nothing about South Korean politics before reading this most excellent graphic novel -- just that once the nation was under the thumb of China, and that the US waged a war there in the 1950s, fighting against the communist regime in the north. It did not go well. But this account of the naive Hyun Sook, newly at university in 1983 and learning about her own nation's political travails for the first time, changed all of that. In just 200 or so short, informative I am ashamed to say I knew next to nothing about South Korean politics before reading this most excellent graphic novel -- just that once the nation was under the thumb of China, and that the US waged a war there in the 1950s, fighting against the communist regime in the north. It did not go well. But this account of the naive Hyun Sook, newly at university in 1983 and learning about her own nation's political travails for the first time, changed all of that. In just 200 or so short, informative pages, I experienced the highs and lows of discovery with her, as she and her new friends read books then-banned in their nation -- books like The Feminine Mystique and The Motorcycle Diaries, presumably disapproved of for their revolutionary concepts and/or authors -- risking imprisonment if caught. Completely fascinating, this is an important story about a tumultuous time, and is not only educational but is also ultimately uplifting. And kind of romantic, too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate (katereads13.blogspot.com)

    Thanks to Iron Circus Comic and Edelweiss for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I loved this comic so much I swallowed it in one sitting. I'm always moved when authors take history and bring it to a level that people can easily read and understand. This story follows Hyun Sook as she leaves for college against her parents wishes. While at college, she gets sucked into a secret banned book club led by a group of student protestors. I appreciated everything about this book. The story reflec Thanks to Iron Circus Comic and Edelweiss for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I loved this comic so much I swallowed it in one sitting. I'm always moved when authors take history and bring it to a level that people can easily read and understand. This story follows Hyun Sook as she leaves for college against her parents wishes. While at college, she gets sucked into a secret banned book club led by a group of student protestors. I appreciated everything about this book. The story reflects on South Korean struggles that the world is wholly unaware of. Each of the characters are real people whose actions lead to a change in the regime of S. Korea. I loved reading about them. They were truly inspiring and at the end I couldn't help but be moved by their actions. The comic is fasted paced, action packed and the art is stunning. This book needs to be used in schools to help students understand how fortunate they are. This was a 10/10 for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Camille Oquendo

    Based on a true story, Banned Book Club tells of Kim Hyun Sook, a South Korean woman who finds herself joining an underground banned book club in the 1980's. During this time, the political climate in South Korea consisted of a corrupt government that banned Western literature and a military regime that obtained power through censoring, torturing and murdering protesters that were involved in consuming such content. We see Sook come into college with the mindset that she's only there to study, le Based on a true story, Banned Book Club tells of Kim Hyun Sook, a South Korean woman who finds herself joining an underground banned book club in the 1980's. During this time, the political climate in South Korea consisted of a corrupt government that banned Western literature and a military regime that obtained power through censoring, torturing and murdering protesters that were involved in consuming such content. We see Sook come into college with the mindset that she's only there to study, learn and read. Soon enough, she finds out that it's not all that simple as she's exposed to the realities of the environment she's around. I enjoyed seeing her growth. In the beginning, she starts off closed off and blinded to the ideologies of the protesters and members of the BBC but as she uncovers and finds out the truth, she understands the power of having a voice, taking action and being part of something revolutionary. The book brings up a great discussion about censorship-- Why do people ban books? Is it purely because of the content? Do they see danger in the authors that create the content? Or is it because there's a possibility that they see themselves in the "villains" or characters of the story and they're too ashamed to admit it? I loved the ending message. Progress isn't just a straight shot. It's filled with twists and turns but in the end, that doesn't mean we should stop fighting for what's right. My only gripe with this book is that it moved too fast for me, in a way that felt as if I was missing information. There were so many characters thrown at once that it felt hard for me to distinguish between each of them at times. It's not easy to condense history and real-life events into a certain format, especially in graphic novel form so it's understandable. Although marketed as YA, I would definitely recommend this book for adults who enjoy reading nonfiction graphic novel memoirs as well. I think this book would also be great reading material for Banned Book Week. Thank you to Netgalley and Letter Better Publishing Services for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    What a lovely way to experience history. This book takes multiple real life stories to give the reader a fictionalized “true” version of the protests in 1983 lead by college students. Most of it is the story of the author, but for privacy reason has changed many names and consolidated some stories. It all starts with the government banning certain literature. Particularly Western literature. Kim wants to read these stories. She wants to study literature. But her mother is not happy. She should be What a lovely way to experience history. This book takes multiple real life stories to give the reader a fictionalized “true” version of the protests in 1983 lead by college students. Most of it is the story of the author, but for privacy reason has changed many names and consolidated some stories. It all starts with the government banning certain literature. Particularly Western literature. Kim wants to read these stories. She wants to study literature. But her mother is not happy. She should be working and finding a husband. If anyone is going to go to school it should be her brother. But with help from dad, Kim goes to classes, and learns about things outside her little home world. While she loves to read she never realized that people could be thrown in jail for what they read. And for what they right. No one pressures her to join any resistance movement, they just say “hey why don’t you read what those in power don’t want us to read”. It’s eye opening. And while trying to stay neutral, she actually ends up joining protests, and helping lead more people to this literature that the government says is bad for people. I have to give snaps to the author for the ending. We never get a clear picture of what all happen. We follow Kim though her getting involved, and then jump to 2017 where she reunites with her friends in modern protest for their land and their government. The reader gets snippets of what the characters when through, like jail time, being teachers, evening staying involved in politics to make their world a better place. Overall I really enjoyed this story and learned quite a bit. There are parts that are a bit confusing, but I think that is from taking a long and varied history and converting it to graphic novel form. I think this book isn’t only interesting to read, but to discuss. I think it should appear on banned book lists, even if it itself has not been banned. It opens up a wider discussion on why people and governments police what others read. #BBRC #AuthenticVoice #ReaderHarder #journalism #GondorGirlGNChallenge.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I received this book through NetGalley last week Thursday. I tried to read it with the Virtual Silent Book Club but our power went out. (knocked down power lines - no worries there.) I only mention this because I wanted - no needed - to finish this book so badly that I read it through the early morning hours with a head lamp. This book is actually a composite biography/memoir about the military regime in South Korea. Which is kind of funny because typically when we in the United States hear the I received this book through NetGalley last week Thursday. I tried to read it with the Virtual Silent Book Club but our power went out. (knocked down power lines - no worries there.) I only mention this because I wanted - no needed - to finish this book so badly that I read it through the early morning hours with a head lamp. This book is actually a composite biography/memoir about the military regime in South Korea. Which is kind of funny because typically when we in the United States hear the words Korea and political regime in the same sentence, we think about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. South Korea is not really on our media's radar. So we do not hear of the political unrest or human rights violations in South Korea on our TV. Most of us also never learned about South Korea in the classroom. So Banned Book Club was an enlightening endeavor for me. Choosing to teach about this time in history through a graphic novel was a nice way to represent the people and their struggle without being too overwrought. That does not lessen the value of the story however; my physical copy is laden with flags and highlights. One aspect of the book that I liked was that it shows throughout history how books and art were used as a form of protest. The author not only declares books as political, but goes further to address the reasons why those in power censor books. The reason is not just because of possible messages of dissent, but rather that they can see themselves as the villains of these novels. Their fear that others may recognize this is what drives them to ban books. They want to control their image, to control the political narrative: "Chun needed a distraction. A crisis. An imminent threat for people to fear. Something only HE could "Protect us" from." With this referral to the fabricated Gwangju invasion Banned Book Club hits rather close to home:"How can Chun trick everyone? How do people not see what's happening? -- "He doesn't care if we believe him or not. He created such a divide between the people who believe his lies and those who don't that the country is too torn apart to come together and properly oppose him." In Banned Book Club the main character is a young woman setting off to college. Her mother opposes her going. She complains about the cost and tells her that money would be better spent on her brother. She also fears that her daughter will get caught up in the student led protests. Her father wants her to have this experience. It is an opportunity he didn't have. He also wants her to have the chance to make her own decisions. For her part, Hyun Sook just wants to go to college to learn. In her mind learning is book knowledge not life experience. When she arrives at the college it seems as if everybody is trying to make her decisions for her. It takes Hyun Sook quite a while to realize this. It is not until the end of the book where she say to herself You know what? You decided what group I was going to join. And you decided whether we were going to be in a relationship. No one asked me what I wanted. When do I get to make the decisions about my life? I have read a few reviews where they faulted the author for Hyun Sook being sorted pushed around and led from one decision to the other. But just remembering from when I was younger it was hard when I first left home for college. It was the first time in my life that I was responsible for myself. I was still trying to figure out who I was while being bombarded with all of these new sets of ideas and meeting different types of people that I would have never encountered if I stayed in my home town. That time in one's life is one of discovery and experimentation. It takes a while for you to settle down into who you truly are and what you will become as an adult member of society. So I understand why it takes time for Hyun Sook to come into her own truth. Although Banned Book Club is billed as YA I would say that it definitely holds something for an adult audience. It reminds me of other powerful graphic novels like Incognegro by Mat Johnson and Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi. Special thanks to NetGalley, Iron Circus Comics and the authors for access to this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    J

    This graphic novel was AMAZING and a book that everyone should read. The book is timely and relevant. I saw so many similarities between what was happening in Korean in 1983, currently around the world and what is happening in America today: a narcissist leader creating his own laws, dividing the country, attacking and discrediting the media and journalists, creating fake news, censoring people and media, a scapegoating and creating a common "enemy" to detract people. Highly, highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rich in Color

    Review copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss As long as there have been books, there have been people trying to control them. In this graphic novel memoir, we’re able to see this in play during the 80s in South Korea. College students continued to read banned materials even when the consequences for being caught were quite grim. The story opens with a family argument. Hyun Sook’s mother does not understand why the college students, and her daughter specifically, feel that things need to be different. Sh Review copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss As long as there have been books, there have been people trying to control them. In this graphic novel memoir, we’re able to see this in play during the 80s in South Korea. College students continued to read banned materials even when the consequences for being caught were quite grim. The story opens with a family argument. Hyun Sook’s mother does not understand why the college students, and her daughter specifically, feel that things need to be different. She characterizes protesting as complaining. The public in general has accepted that things are as they are and while not content, they are willing to keep the status quo in return for peace. Initially Hyun Sook really does seem to want to be at college to learn and has no interest in activism, resistance, or protest. She is alarmed by the defiance her peers are showing, but that soon changes. This is a timely book with activism and dissent as a central theme. Young people take learning into their own hands. When a government entity is telling you not to read something, it begs the questions, why? What does the government have to fear? And if they fear these books and words, they must be powerful. Hyun Sook’s story is compelling and hard to look away from so it reads really quickly. This would be an excellent book to pair with the 2017 movie A Taxi Driver which features the Gwangju incident mentioned in this story. I had recently watched the movie and it helped to have that context since Korean history is not taught very thoroughly (meaning not at all) in U.S. schools. For readers unfamiliar with this time in South Korea’s history, some of the details may be a little confusing, but even then, readers will still be able to follow the storyline. Recommendation: Banned Book Club has appeal for many, many readers. As a graphic novel memoir dealing with activism it’s sure to intrigue many. As a book celebrating the revolutionary act of reading, I’m guessing many book lovers will want to dive in. History fans will likely want to grab it too. And of course, those who keep asking for college aged characters may find this one to their liking. Get it soon!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    ARC given by NetGalley for Honest Review Banned Book Club is definitely a story of our time while being told about the past. In the political climate of today's world this is an incredible look back to a time of censorship and fascism in Korea. Hyun Sook is invited to join a banned book club and while apprehensive at first she realizes over time that being apathetic about politics can be more detrimental than not. Her and her friends use her colleges tools and clubs as means to secretly defy the ARC given by NetGalley for Honest Review Banned Book Club is definitely a story of our time while being told about the past. In the political climate of today's world this is an incredible look back to a time of censorship and fascism in Korea. Hyun Sook is invited to join a banned book club and while apprehensive at first she realizes over time that being apathetic about politics can be more detrimental than not. Her and her friends use her colleges tools and clubs as means to secretly defy the government while hoping not to get caught. This story discusses things like corporal punishment (we see Officer Ok beating boys for information), rape (also committed by Officers), and women's rights. While this story went by quickly in my opinion, it's refreshing to see people continuing to write about corrupt government as an act of defiance against them. Hyun Sook delivers a beautiful monologue at the end, telling her younger self not to give up hope and to continue to fight. That there will always be corruption and progress isn't always linear but it will always get better. If there is one thing you can take away from this story it would be ...read banned books! Can't wait for the pub date to come so I can add this to my personal and professional collection!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I started college in 1982, one year before Kim Hyun Sook. Our college experiences were totally different. On the other side of the world, she was working with fellow students to effect change in her country. Her story is amazing. The narrative was interesting and fast paced. I finished the book in a little over an hour. There is so much I never knew about the political situation in South Korea. This book really opened my eyes to a world so different from my own. It is a must-read, and I highly r I started college in 1982, one year before Kim Hyun Sook. Our college experiences were totally different. On the other side of the world, she was working with fellow students to effect change in her country. Her story is amazing. The narrative was interesting and fast paced. I finished the book in a little over an hour. There is so much I never knew about the political situation in South Korea. This book really opened my eyes to a world so different from my own. It is a must-read, and I highly recommend it. I received a free review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tory

    DANG I had no idea this shizz was going on in South Korea! I thought they were the SANE Korea! So, very historically enlightening, but I apparently do not like manga style. Gave it a shot and it bothered me the whole time. BUT I learned a lot!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Briar's Reviews

    Yay for another graphic novel to add to my list! One of my 2020 goals was increasing the amount of graphic novels I've read (and have on my shelves) and this book seemed perfect! Our lead, Kim, goes off to college to learn bright and new things. Suddenly, she's found herself apart of a book club but not just any book club... it reads banned books, which is quite the scandal in South Korea during the 80s. This political true story is an incredible read and I think it's in the perfect format to te Yay for another graphic novel to add to my list! One of my 2020 goals was increasing the amount of graphic novels I've read (and have on my shelves) and this book seemed perfect! Our lead, Kim, goes off to college to learn bright and new things. Suddenly, she's found herself apart of a book club but not just any book club... it reads banned books, which is quite the scandal in South Korea during the 80s. This political true story is an incredible read and I think it's in the perfect format to tell this story. Reasons why this book is awesome: 1. The cover is wickedly cool and grabbed my attention. 2. Cartoon-y art style that gave it a fun personality. 3. Banned Book Club = super intriguing premise AND ITS A LEGIT THING SO EVEN COOLER. 4. Non-fiction graphic novels/mangas = THE BOMB. Not literally, the cool 80/90s term everybody always used and suddenly didn't use anymore. 5. I always love a good memoir. Graphic novel form is just way cooler. 6. I learned a lot about South Korea from this book and doing a little research about what was going on at the time. BONUS FOR LEARNING! Overall, this is a truly marvellous story in a great artistic form. I will definitely want to pick up more books by Kim Hyun Sook in the future. Four out of five stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Iron Circus Comics and Letter Better Publishing Services for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    In this graphic novel memoir, Kim Hyun Sook tells of her time in college in South Korea in the 1980s. During this time there was much unrest and the college students frequently protested against corruption in the police force and the government. Hyun Sook was studying literature and a fellow student approached her about joining a banned book club. At first she was nervous about joining because students from another university had recently been arrested for being in a similar club. Many books tha In this graphic novel memoir, Kim Hyun Sook tells of her time in college in South Korea in the 1980s. During this time there was much unrest and the college students frequently protested against corruption in the police force and the government. Hyun Sook was studying literature and a fellow student approached her about joining a banned book club. At first she was nervous about joining because students from another university had recently been arrested for being in a similar club. Many books that were deemed as having ideas dangerous to the Korean government were banned at the time. The story really did shine a light on the political situation in South Korea and how there was much unrest amongst college age students who were looking for change. It was eye-opening to me as I didn't know much about this era in Korea. 3.5 stars I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Not only was this wonderfully done, well told and illustrated, but I was pleased by how very timely the book seems still, as we ourselves are in the middle of protests. The specific time and place matter in this book--and it is a thing I did not know about at the time! But also the fear of police, the friendships bolstering courage, the need to keep fighting and even demonstrate in the future--all this seems very much like what we need to see today, and so does the choices of the young woman pro Not only was this wonderfully done, well told and illustrated, but I was pleased by how very timely the book seems still, as we ourselves are in the middle of protests. The specific time and place matter in this book--and it is a thing I did not know about at the time! But also the fear of police, the friendships bolstering courage, the need to keep fighting and even demonstrate in the future--all this seems very much like what we need to see today, and so does the choices of the young woman protagonist, who first did not want to get involved, then who could not have refused to get involved. I loved the idea of Shakespeare as a political being, as all art is--even though I could sure do without the creepy teacher. Well done. Very glad we got this for our library.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book takes a look at the corruption in South Korea in the 1980s, when the author was in college. Based on her life, but with peoples experiences and names moved around and mixed up, we get a good idea about what was going on in those times. Yum Sook joins a banned book club, because reading banned books gives you a good idea what the authorities don’t want you to read about. This looks at one year of her life, int he group, and what they’d I’d with their time, and how they help protests. At This book takes a look at the corruption in South Korea in the 1980s, when the author was in college. Based on her life, but with peoples experiences and names moved around and mixed up, we get a good idea about what was going on in those times. Yum Sook joins a banned book club, because reading banned books gives you a good idea what the authorities don’t want you to read about. This looks at one year of her life, int he group, and what they’d I’d with their time, and how they help protests. At first Hyundai Sook looks as though she is terribly naive, and you fear for her safety, but then she turns things around and shows that she doesn’t take no guff. Engaging story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janis Kay

    This was thrilling. I know almost nothing about South Korean history, save for the general stuff, and this has me itching to learn more about this crucial time period in their history. I generally new that student protests were commonplace back then, but I never knew that the South Korea that we know had a very uphill battle towards the democracy that they have now. Kim Hyun Sook is just your average university student when she gets swept up in a tidal force that helped shape her country into wh This was thrilling. I know almost nothing about South Korean history, save for the general stuff, and this has me itching to learn more about this crucial time period in their history. I generally new that student protests were commonplace back then, but I never knew that the South Korea that we know had a very uphill battle towards the democracy that they have now. Kim Hyun Sook is just your average university student when she gets swept up in a tidal force that helped shape her country into what it is now. Seriously, everyone should read this. The ending was very inspiring in that the message for everyone is that there is no end -being politically active/involved (no matter how much or little) needs to be a constant and not a phase. "Every vote counts." For Librarians & Teachers: Readers can definitely draw correlations to other countries who had similar political atmospheres during and prior to the Cold War era. This can be used as a text in a politics, history, socio-cultural, or even a literature class. There is so much that can be drawn from this. Absolutely fascinating and I'm eager to see more! Definitely recommend for purchase. **I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss+ for an honest review. I'm a Teen/Young Adult librarian in a public library and much of this review was taken from the one I submitted to Edelweiss.**

  22. 4 out of 5

    delph ✨

    Find my full review on my blog: here An e-ARC was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange of an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way. There are a bunch of book I want people to read. First, the books I love so much and mean everything to me. Then, books like BANNED BOOK CLUB. I mean, it’s not my favorite book ever but it’s a book everybody should read because it’s an important one, because we should know more about history and what happened even if it didn’t h Find my full review on my blog: here An e-ARC was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange of an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way. There are a bunch of book I want people to read. First, the books I love so much and mean everything to me. Then, books like BANNED BOOK CLUB. I mean, it’s not my favorite book ever but it’s a book everybody should read because it’s an important one, because we should know more about history and what happened even if it didn’t happen in our country. To be perfectly honest, I’m not smart. I also believe that I’m pretty dumb too. So yeah, dumb and not smart. Basically, an idiot. That’s why I’m always so grateful to all the writers — especially writers of color — who write about their story, their marginalization, their country’s story. Because I want to know more, to learn more and finally feel like I’m not the dumbest in the neighborhood. And that’s why I’m so grateful I got the chance to read BANNED BOOK CLUB. It is such an important read. BANNED BOOK CLUB is the story of Kim Hyun Sook who joined colleges after receiving a scholarship and ends up joining a book club — the banned book club. And if at first she didn’t want to have anything about it, she stayed and understood what it means to fight for her country, to fight for freedom. Diversity tag: all korean characters cast, side f/f relationship, korean authors, ownvoices. Trigger/Content Warnings: torture, violence, rape/sexual assault (implied)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A quick but very affective read! Banned Book Club is a manhwa (Korean comic) memoir following Kim Hyun Sook, who began attending university in South Korea in 1983 intending to stick to studying, but got drawn into political protest through a banned book club instead. Not knowing much about Korean history, all of the events contained in this book were new to me, but the authors did a great job of explaining the key points to understand the plot. The Korean political climate as shown here reminded A quick but very affective read! Banned Book Club is a manhwa (Korean comic) memoir following Kim Hyun Sook, who began attending university in South Korea in 1983 intending to stick to studying, but got drawn into political protest through a banned book club instead. Not knowing much about Korean history, all of the events contained in this book were new to me, but the authors did a great job of explaining the key points to understand the plot. The Korean political climate as shown here reminded me a lot of the stories of the 1960's in the U.S.; I was specifically reminded of The Strawberry Statement. I really appreciated the attitude of all the Banned Book Club members, who understand that protesting is dangerous but remain upbeat about their purpose. Knowledge is the enemy of authoritarianism, and censorship is its tool. "How can [President] Chun trick everyone? How do people not see what's happening?" "He doesn't care if we believe him or not. He created such a divide between the people who believe his lies and those who don't that the country is too torn apart to come together and properly oppose him." Banned Book Club is a timely narrative with important themes of resistance and hope. TW: police brutality, off-page rape, torture All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

  24. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Little

    @kidlitexchange Partner: Banned Book Club by @ironcircus and @ryanestradadotcom. Releases TODAY! Happy book birthday! 📚 🎂 Banned Book Club is an autobiographical graphic novel (I’ve always loved that concept) by Kim Hyon Sook. Suitable for high school or college students, Banned Book Club describes Hyon Sook’s experiences as a college student during President Chun’s era in South Korea. A literature student, Hyon Sook quickly found herself swept up into the political fervor of college, joining a @kidlitexchange Partner: Banned Book Club by @ironcircus and @ryanestradadotcom. Releases TODAY! Happy book birthday! 📚 🎂 Banned Book Club is an autobiographical graphic novel (I’ve always loved that concept) by Kim Hyon Sook. Suitable for high school or college students, Banned Book Club describes Hyon Sook’s experiences as a college student during President Chun’s era in South Korea. A literature student, Hyon Sook quickly found herself swept up into the political fervor of college, joining a club of friends who read material banned by the South Korea government. In the shadow of North Korea, the southern alternative has always seemed pretty sweet to me, but its history is far from it! It has a dark and troubled past, which I honestly didn’t even know about before this book. Reading it led me to looking up more about South Korea in the 80s and studying the difference between Communism and Facism. The simple black and white art work in this book complements the storyline perfectly, though there were a few instances where I couldn’t tell quite what was going on. This amazing book releases TODAY! Go get a copy! Thanks @kidlitexchange for the review copy—all opinions are my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erikka

    With beautiful art and a compelling story, I learned so much about the protests for freedom in South Korea. Compared to their northern neighbors, SK always seems like such a delightful and progressive place, but this story showed me that they also have struggles and challenges, rights to fight for and battles to wage. It makes me feel better about my own screwed up country to know that other high profile and wealthy nations have issues, too. Hyun Sook does a great job telling her own story witho With beautiful art and a compelling story, I learned so much about the protests for freedom in South Korea. Compared to their northern neighbors, SK always seems like such a delightful and progressive place, but this story showed me that they also have struggles and challenges, rights to fight for and battles to wage. It makes me feel better about my own screwed up country to know that other high profile and wealthy nations have issues, too. Hyun Sook does a great job telling her own story without making herself sound perfect. She's flawed and that honesty makes her relatable. I also like how well she developed her friends in such a limited amount of pages. It made me want them to be successful in all their endeavors.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tabrizia

    Thank you Edelweiss and Iron Circus Comics for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Such a powerful read! Really shows how reading can bring truth and light when their is paranoia and fear. I learned so much about South Korean history from reading this memoir and I want to learn more about it. This story also shows how history has a chance of repeating itself. However, when people ban together to overcome that obstacle, the history's trajectory can be changed.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    I think the title confused me about what this graphic novel was supposed to be about. After getting past 94 pages I began to see the story take shape and form. I'm happy with the end result. I really liked this true story and am glad to be educated about this aspect of Korean history.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A great blend of manga, history, and political protests! Also, a great book to kick off September with since Banned Book Week is later this month.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    I learned so much from this book! In this graphic memoir / history text, the author Kim Hyun Sook tells the reader about her experiences in college in South Korea during he early 1980s. The country was struggling with internal problems, where the government was suppressing freedoms and college students were protesting the brutality of the regime. Books were banned. People were being arrested, interrogated and tortured. And the young adults were seeking equitable treatment and open discussion and I learned so much from this book! In this graphic memoir / history text, the author Kim Hyun Sook tells the reader about her experiences in college in South Korea during he early 1980s. The country was struggling with internal problems, where the government was suppressing freedoms and college students were protesting the brutality of the regime. Books were banned. People were being arrested, interrogated and tortured. And the young adults were seeking equitable treatment and open discussion and thought. The author was a student of literature and finds herself slowly and quietly joining the movement. The story was completely new to me. I even visited South Korea with the American military at that time, and had no idea. My biggest complaint is with respect to the artwork. For me the characters were not distinctive. They tended to look like one another with no distinctive markings, clothing or looks. And all of the characters appeared angry at all times. For me it distracted from the moments when they would actually be angry. Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Iron Circus Comics for my digital ARC in exchange for my review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Neha Garg (thereadingowl_)

    Amazing! That's the one-word review I have for this book, Coming to details, I loved how much this short book was able to express and convey in its pages. Through Hyun Sook and her friends, the author has given a glimpse at the political scenario of South Korea and the shocking Gwangju incident. But everyone and every country can relate to this. There has been one or the other or multiple instances in every world government where one's lust for power led to a nationwide crisis and curbed the free Amazing! That's the one-word review I have for this book, Coming to details, I loved how much this short book was able to express and convey in its pages. Through Hyun Sook and her friends, the author has given a glimpse at the political scenario of South Korea and the shocking Gwangju incident. But everyone and every country can relate to this. There has been one or the other or multiple instances in every world government where one's lust for power led to a nationwide crisis and curbed the freedom of speech of millions. Through the story, Hyun Sook changes from a reluctant ideal student to an activist as her friends bring her face to face with the realities of the system and show her the help her see the truth behind government propaganda. Through Agent Ok, we come across cogs in such government systems who are crushed every time the machinery turns but they can neither get out nor give up. They end up becoming the hand of the oppressor. Books have the power to change. And this is one such book. If you are looking at the review, don't hesitate and pick it up.

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