• "Year of Impossible Goodbyes" begins by introducing the narrator, a little girl named Sookan as well as her family.
• The story is set in Pyongyang, Korea in 1945 during the Japanese occupation.
• Sookan watches Grandfather meditate under a tree even though it is forbidden.
• The family is forced to run a sock factory for the Japanese army and work every day of the week.
• Although Sookan is old enough to go to school, her parents have postponed her education as they do not want her to learn Japanese propaganda and hope to war will end soon.
• Grandfather teaches Sookan and her brother about Korean history, culture, and language although this is illegal.
• Sookan's family throws a small party for Haiwon, and they are caught by Captain Narita.
• As a punishment for the party, soldiers cut down Grandfather's pine tree.
• Grandfather vows to never leave the house again...
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