Cover Image: The Waiting

The Waiting

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Member Reviews

* I received an eARC/e-galley of this book via Netgalley. All opinions in this review are my own.

This book was moving and heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. This graphic novel follows one woman's story of the Korean War and how she was separated from loved ones. I'm not a big reader of war novels but given this was a chance and I was so glad I did. The focus of the story was not on the war at all but how people were separated from loved ones while evacuating the North. The story was told with present and past experiences being intertwined which helped to land the sweetness of moments as well as the sadness. While this story is a work of fiction you can tell the author paid careful attention to make it seem so real and believable. It was obvious the writer did some nice research about the war and the reunification process and how that affected loved ones. The art style was also very nice and the pacing of panels were used well to emphasize moments and evoke emotional responses. I highly recommend this book!
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Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s amazing illustrations take a reader through the devastation of being not only uprooted from one’s home and forced onto the road as a refugee, but too often being separated from loved ones in the process. Janet Hong’s translation brings the work to English readers. In the afterward, Gendry-Kim shares the importance and timeliness of the work: “The  generation that experienced the Korean war is dying, and with them, the painful memories are disappearing too. The current generation has little interest in the reunification of the two Koreas. They dismiss the pain of separated families, since for them the Korean War is too far in the past.”  She also encourages a broader contemplation: “How many people in this world have been wounded by war? How many have had their loved ones torn from them?” 

Korea in 1950, Vietnam in the 1960s, Syria in the 2000s, or many other, the human toll is the true legacy of war.

Thank you to Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Janet Hong, Drawn & Quarterly, and NetGalley for an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Keum Seuk-Gendry Kim breaks my heart every. Single. Time. I was first introduced to her beautiful work in the graphic novel memoir, Grass, she created about Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during WWII. It was an incredibly powerful memoir, and this fictional graphic memoir of Korean families divided by the Korean War and the separation of the North and South, based on the stories of her mother, Grandmother Lee and Grandfather Kim, is just as riveting. 

The artwork in this story, like in Grass, is black and white, stark and mostly quiet. Then there will be a striking moment where the details of a single tree will make you catch your breath and hover. 

I see this story as an important one for anyone trying to understand the real life human impact of a separated Korea and the lived experience of the Korean War, or anyone who enjoys stories that look at significant historical events through the lens of an everyday individual’s experience. I would also recommend it to high school students studying 20th century Asian history, to put a face to the dates, places and people they’re studying. 

It’s also just a heartbreaking look at family relationships, adult children and aging parents. 

While I can’t comment on the accuracy of the translation, my feeling is that Janet Hong did an excellent job. I appreciated the inclusion of some Korean words and phrases as well as the subtle notes to include some background/contextual information. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Drawn and Quarterly, Keum Seuk-Gendry Kim and Janet Hong this ARC in return for my honest review, but also just for the reading experience.
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Incredibly valuable story about the devastating effects of family separation and war. However, it did not keep my attention as much as I had hoped. This is definitively more for the literary graphic novel connoisseur than the average joe, which is a shame as I think it needs to reach more folks
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Even those this story is fictional, it is based on personal accounts. It is a very eye-opening and educational story. It blows my mind how many families were separated because of the Korean War, and so many of them will never know the fate of their family members. Whether you are close with your family or not, this story will make you reflect on that.
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An exceptional yet heart-wrenchingly personal account of The Korean War. Gendry-Kim uses her genius to remind us that the effects of the war and bifurcation of the Korean identity are an everyday reality for many. I will remember this tale for the rest of my life.
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This graphic novel is heartbreaking and informative. I didn't know much about the conflict in Korea or the attempts to unite families decades later, but this book easily explains things with beautiful artwork that is as stark and powerful as the stories it tells.
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"The Waiting" by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, is a story without an ending.  How can it have an ending when there are still so many Korean families, separated by war, who know nothing of what became of their loved ones?  Biographical in nature, Gendry-Kim did not use her own family story, or the exact stories of others she'd interviewed, for fear or reprisal to those still living under the North Korean regime.  

Through flashbacks, Gwija tells the story of how her mother was separated from her husband and son as the North Koreans fled South to avoid the war.  The story of her exodus is like that of many others, fleeing in chaos and confusion, relying on the kindness of others for food and shelter, encountering death and destruction along the way, surviving to eek out a living in a new place as refugees, forming a new family while unable to forget the old.  

Another important aspect of Gwija's story is the challenge and guilt of caring for an elderly parent while trying to live one's own life.  Although she is not an only child, as the only single daughter, much of the care of her mother has fallen to her, although her married brother lives nearby. The culture of male dominance in the culture is evident in the favoritism shown sons over daughters.  Gwija feels tremendous guilt about her inability to locate her mother's first husband and their son.   Her feelings are intensified as she is forced to move away from the neighborhood and further away from her mother.  

So, like so many others, Gwija's mother continues to wait to hear about what happened to her husband and son.  And like so many others, she will likely pass away before finding out anything.  The bleakness of their situation is highlighted by Gendry-Kim's stark black-and-white artwork.  

Appropriate for 7th grade students and up looking for historical fiction or titles about family dynamics and/or Korean culture.
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I couldn’t finish the book.  I know their culture is different than mine, but what happened to Sockie was extremely offensive to me.  If that was left out of the book I would have continued reading it.
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This book is so tragic and beautiful. Despite the matter-of-fact way the text is delivered the story is quite heartbreaking. The author did a great job of showing her love for her mother as well her struggles communicating with her due to differences in culture/generation. I really like how the book puts you in the same emotional position of the characters, uncertain of the future. The ink illustrations are quite lovely.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Drawn & Quarterly for providing a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

A moving text, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim's The Waiting paired simple, yet effective, art with complex characters who drove the story forward. Although some parts were a little slow for my tastes, I was compelled to read on thanks to the overarching narrative and my interest in individual characters.
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Powerful and moving, this fictionalized account of families separated between North and South Korea is strikingly illustrated. The black and white images capture the setting, passage of time, and the stark differences between war, the refugee experience, and modern life.  Gendry-Kim's notes at the end of the work provide even more insight into the separations experienced by many Korean families.
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This is my first time reading a more heavy and historical graphic novel and I really loved it. Thought I learned a lot, even though it is fiction that was for the sake of respecting the real life stories its based off of. Over all the story has a tone of melancholy and really opens your eyes on not only the topic of the Korean War and how family's were lost to each other but also, something I had never thought about, the people alive today who still don't know the status of their loved ones. It was probably very hard living through something like this let alone having the added weight of the unknown status of love ones looming over you constantly. It made me think a lot about my own grandmother and what she must have lived through leaving her family to come to the US during the Vietnam War, definitely something I'll have to discus with her.

Highly Recommend reading! Beautifully told! Looking forward to reading more of Keum Suk Gendry-Kim works!
This is my first time reading a more heavy and historical graphic novel and I really loved it. Thought I learned a lot, even though it is fiction that was for the sake of respecting the real life stories its based off of. Over all the story has a tone of melancholy and really opens your eyes on not only the topic of the Korean War and how family's were lost to each other but also, something I had never thought about, the people alive today who still don't know the status of their loved ones. It was probably very hard living through something like this let alone having the added weight of the unknown status of love ones looming over you constantly. It made me think a lot about my own grandmother and what she must have lived through leaving her family to come to the US during the Vietnam War, definitely something I'll have to discus with her.

Highly Recommend reading! Beautifully told! Looking forward to reading more of Keum Suk Gendry-Kim works!
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The thought of never knowing where a loved one is or what happened to them has always been, in my mind, one of the worst things you can live through.
The Waiting is a work of fiction but based on some real accounts (a work of fiction to be respectful of real-life people's stories). Beginning with one woman's life as the war begins, a domino effect that results in the division of Korea -making north and south Korea.  It was painful to see how so many families were torn apart and lost that even decades later, with the program from the Red Cross, some answers were never going to be answered.
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