4 out of 4 stars
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This book, The Vanished by Pejay Bradley, is a way of telling younger generations the history that took place in Korea during this time period, when Japan is conquering many places.
It is a tale of bravery and patriotism. We see young Embon born into a respectable family and having all his needs and wants provided to him. He has servants who wait on him and obey his commands, even for the little things that he can do on his own. It’s good to know that he has aspirations to help free the country from the grasp of the Japanese and yet we see him doing nothing and enjoying his privileges. The way he continued to treat their servants as people below them and of unequal status is a glaring contradiction between his words and actions.
His personal situation, with his parents, is another display of how unaware he is of himself. He disliked how his father was unable to appreciate his mother and continued to waste away his life, despite the opportunities he had to make his life better and to contribute to good causes. Though Embon thought this way about his father, he didn’t seem to internalize his own situation, with his own wife and how he treats her. In that regard, he’s practically the same as his father. He didn’t even try. He decided one thing and ignored the other possibilities. He’s a classic representation of most people, even today. Each one of us can do something to improve our society and yet we believe that there’s no point when facing the huge enemy, so we end up doing nothing.
Later on, in the story, Embon showed bravery by joining the underground activities that supports reclamation of their country’s freedom, despite his weak health condition. He preferred the company of his friends over his family. His passion was ignited by the aspirations of like-minded individuals around him. When his friends died, he chose to return to his comfortable life.
On the other side, we see the oppression done by the Japanese, the political and leadership struggle by those in power, the supplication done to the royal family and the prominent families, and the courage of the unknown men and women from the lowest ranks of the society fighting for their country and freedom.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was professionally-edited. As a non-Korean, it’s interesting enough for people who are into history and who would like to know more about other countries. I can relate to it because my country was also colonized by Japan and we’ve studied it in history classes. We’ve had three years of it during grade school and have known some of the names of the many men and women who fought for our country. We are able to appreciate the current freedom that we are enjoying thanks to those people who sacrificed themselves for the future generations to come. As one our great heroes once said, “The youth is our country’s hope.” It’s imperative that the current generation is able to appreciate the bravery displayed by those individuals from the past and to maintain the freedom that we are enjoying today, ensuring that such oppression would not happen again.
I would not recommend this book to people who have no historical knowledge, interest or background on oppression and colonization done by one country to another. They might think it’s meaningless. Many people died during that period, many of them were unknown, and yet they contributed in the only way they knew. The struggle itself, despite ending in death, is a show of rejection. We shall not accept any nation to oppress ours. I believe everyone feels this notion to a certain degree, towards their own country. It’s a sense of patriotism, and though we may not be able to prove it by dying in battle, we can show it by protecting our freedom. In this day and age, it’s easy to voice out one’s opinions and to come together for a cause through many means available to us.
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