When My Name Was Keoko


Linda Sue Park

Number of Pages: 


Minimum grade level: 


Discussion questions

  1. Which characters showed courage in this story? How did they show it?
  2. Describe Abuji. Do you know anyone like him?
  3. What part does the Rose of Sharon tree play in this book? Is it a symbol?
  4. How does Tae-yul's interest in mechanical things like bicycles and airplanes influence what happens in his life? Do you have an interest that might shape your life?
  5. How is the family in this story similar to yours? How is it different?
  6. After the Japanese soldiers burned her diary, Sun-hee writes, "You burn the paper but not the words." (p. 106). What does she mean?
  7. She goes on to write, "You silence the words, but not the thoughts. You silence the thoughts only if you kill the man. And you will find that his thoughts rise again in the minds of others-twice as strong as before!" Does this remind you of any other events in the history of our country or another?
  8. How are females treated differently than males in this story? How is that similar to or different than our culture?
  9. On page 142, Sun-hee describes one way that war "turned everything inside out." What are some other ways?
  10. Describe how the conditions in her country impacted Sun-hee's friendships. Have you ever had a friendship strained by outside forces?
  11. We heard this story from the voices of Sun-hee and Tae-yul. How might the story have been different from Tomo's point of view?
  12. Sun-hee wonders, "How could an alphabet - letters that didn't even mean anything by themselves be important?" (p. 107) Can you respond to her question?
  13. How are the kamikaze pilots like the 9/11 attackers? Why did Tae-yul volunteer? What other kinds of things might lead people to make that sort of choice?
  14. How do you feel when you read that a Japanese soldier talks about "the sickly pale Americans?"(p.108) How do you think many of the Koreans to whom he spoke responded?
  15. When Tae-yul is speaking to a Japanese officer (p. 120), he makes a distinction between lying and acting. What do you think about that?
  16. What do you think of Sun-hee's question, "If a war lasts long enough, is it possible that people would completely forget the idea of beauty?" (p. 110)
  17. What did you learn that you did not know before about Korea and Japan? Does this author show a bias?
  18. Linda Sue Park won the Newbery Award for her last book The Single Shard. How do the two books compare?

This discussion guide created by Janet Goulston, Illahee Elementary School Media Specialist

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.