Monday, July 25, 2016

Daughters of the Dragon: forgotten and silenced for too long

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews is a story about a part of history I have never heard. It is a heart wrenching story about one woman’s survival during a time when the world was in turmoil. The story opens with Anna, a Korean woman who was adopted by an American couple as a baby who is now trying to meet her birth mother. At the agency, Anna is told her mother has passed away. As she leaves the agency, heartbroken, she is approached by an elderly woman with a note and package. The note reads with an address and inside is a beautiful comb with a two-headed dragon. Against the advice of those around her, Anna decides to go to the address. There she meets, Hong Jae-kee, her birth grandmother and she wants to tell Anna the story of her family. There her grandmother begins to tell her story. She begins in September 1943 in North P’yonygan Province, North Korea where she lived on the family farm. Jae-kee and her older sister, Soo-hee, are ordered to work in a boot factory. Before they leave, their mother gives Soo-hee the dragon comb, in hopes that it will protect her. Along the way, Soo-hee gives the comb Jae-kee. The girls are shipped by truck with other girls to China where they arrive at a comfort station. There the girls are required to be “comfort women” to the Japanese soldiers as they come through the area. For two years, Jae-kee and the other girls are raped by the soldiers and treated for horrible sexually diseases as well as quick abortions. Soon rumor begins to fly that the Japanese are losing the war. Soon Jae-kee finds herself free but without a home and without family. As she makes her way home, she must live with the stigma of a comfort woman and finds herself on the edge of society. How does Jae-kee survive? What is the significance of the dragon comb?

In many ways, Daughters of the Dragon reminds me of The Joy Luck Club as both feature strong women who survive horrific conditions of war and societal rules which make them inferior. It was eye-opening to see the events portrayed in Korea as the world is at war and what the Korean War was like for those who lived there. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of one woman’s journey. Jae-kee’s story is an example of a hidden piece of history which shouldn’t be hidden anymore. The numbers vary as to how many young girls who forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army. The atrocities of war, the innocent lives shattered by the powerful. But the strength of these woman to make their voices heard and the crimes committed against them be brought to light. Daughters of the Dragon is an excellent book about an area of history that has been forgotten and silenced for too long. I highly recommend Daughters of the Dragon!

Daughters of the Dragon
is available on Amazon
in paperback $14.95

and Kindle $4.99