Year of Impossible Goodbyes Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 27 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Year of Impossible Goodbyes.
This section contains 477 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Year of Impossible Goodbyes Summary & Study Guide Description

Year of Impossible Goodbyes Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi.

In 1945, the Japanese had been occupying Korea for over thirty years. Sookan is a little Korean girl whose family fights for the cause of Korean Independence, but this is very dangerous. The family hopes that World War II will end soon so that they can be free.

Sookan and her little brother, Inchun, try to help out at home, where they are secretly taught about Korean history and culture by their Grandfather. The family runs a small sock factory in their yard, with a group of teen-aged girls who work all day, every day to make socks for the Japanese army. The Japanese Imperial Police rule over the people cruelly, confiscating anything of value, and forcing everyone to worship the Japanese Emperor. Sookan's three older brothers and Father are far away, in Japanese labor camps, or working to free Korea from Japanese rule. When Grandfather is dying, he asks Sookan's Mother to tell the children the stories of their family, and Sookan discovers just how cruel and destructive the Japanese have been to her family. Captain Narita, an Imperial Police officer, kidnaps all the sock girls, taking them to the front to be sex slaves for the Japanese army.

The Japanese finally surrender to the Allies, ending the war. Sookan's family is so happy to be able to act Korean again, but soon the Russians come in to take over Korea. They recruit everyone to be a good Communist and work hard to build a workers' paradise. In fact, the people are no better off than they were before, because they still have to work as slave laborers for very little food, while constantly being barraged with propaganda. Sookan's family pretends to love the Communist Party, while they plan their escape to the south. Sookan, Inchun, and Mother run away in the night, paying a guide a lot of money to take them across the border of the thirty-eighth parallel, where Korea is divided. After a harrowing train ride and a day of running and walking, Mother is separated from the children, and they discover that their guide is a double agent, who has betrayed them.

Sookan and Inchun wander for several days, looking for Mother, and finally they find someone who offers to help them get across the border. They have to crawl under a train, cross a river on a large train trestle, cross two fields where a searchlight seeks out targets to shoot, and go through a barbed-wire fence. They barely make it, and the Red Cross nurses on the other side help the children recover for several days. They take a bus to their Father's apartment, where they are reunited with their three older brothers. After more time has passed, Mother and their sister also make it to the south, and the family builds a new life for themselves.

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This section contains 477 words
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