Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood - Richard E. Kim Well, humph, what can I say? I am glad that is over. It reads like a child's book. A boy with tremendous wisdom, honor and valor saves the day when the family's Korean town is liberated from the Japanese at the conclusion of WW2! And the conclusion of the book. The adults in the village listen to the wise advice of the thirteen year-old as he explains how the liberation can most effectively be carried out in the town:

The police can be isolated, sir. Most of them are inside the station right now, anyway. We should try to keep them in there and just make sure they don't come out in force. We can always deal with two or three of them at a time, but I doubt if the police will be stupid enough to send anyone out at a time like this. There are Korean policemen, too, sir, and we should talk them into coming out and giving themselves up. But, sir, really, the first thing we should do is to take over everything else,that is, the railway station, the fire department, the government warehouses, and that sort of thing. Cut the telephone wires to and from the police station, cut off their water by locating the water pipes to the station and destroying them, cut off the electric supply, and so on. Then surround the station and send in an ultimatum, asking them to lay down their arms and turn the station over to us. It is really very simple, sir. (page 179)


The horrors of Korean occupation by the Japanese reads like an adventure story. The boy is righteous, always hardworking, kind and forgiving. I would only recommend this book to a young boy who is interested in history AND loves adventure stories. Correct historical facts are sparsely thrown in. They are presented in a simple manner. You do learn about life of a Korean family under the Japanese occupation.

The title refers to the fact that the Japanese demanded that the Korean take Japanese names. This chapter was moving.

Is this fiction or is this autobiographical? I am unsure.... There is an author's note. The author insists that this is a book of fiction, but then he says ambiguously:

Perhaps I should have included a disclaimer: all the characters and events described in this book are real, but everything else is fiction. (page 198)

What?! He says he is happy that everyone thinks it is so convincingly written that they assume it must be true.

So is this a good book to teach a child about Korea during WW2? Perhaps. Although I do not usually fall head over heels in love with YA literature, I have read some that are excellent; there are books that are good for all ages. I do not rank this in that category.