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Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated by Janet Hong
Drawn and Quarterly
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Grass is the story of Lee Ok-sun, a Korean woman born into abject poverty and hard labor, denied any formal education, adopted out by her desperate parents, kidnapped off the street, and forced into sexual slavery as a “comfort woman” by the Japanese military during World War II. Upon liberation, Lee was outcast and homeless, eventually settling into an abusive marriage that kept her in China for the next fifty years before finally returning to Korea to reclaim her identity—and be rejected by her remaining family. Despite having “never known happiness from the moment I came out of my mother’s womb,” Lee is a survivor who refuses to be silent in the ongoing fight for comfort women to be recognized by the Japanese government. Lee’s story is not for the faint of heart, but author and artist Keum Suk Gendry-Kim tells it with compassion and respect, asking the reader to bear witness to these events, to face brutality head-on and endure.