What if a novel that claims a daughter of a Nazi officer was raped by Jewish people, is used as a required textbook for American middle schools?
“So Far from the Bamboo Grove”, the novel that turns a perpetrator into a victim and a rapist into a victim!
Schools and the Department of Education of every state should stop using this book!
VANK has started a Global Petition on world’s largest petition site in order to stop using “So Far from the Bamboo Grove” in American middles chools, and created a poster to tell the world the truth about the novel.
The campaign began with creating and distributing Korean and English Digital Posters that says “So Far from the Bamboo Grove”, the novel that turns a perpetrator into a victim and a rapist into a victim!” on social media, and started a petition on change.org.
“So Far From the Bamboo Grove” is an autobiographical novel by American-Japanese Yoko Kawashima Watkins published in 1986.
The book follows the plot of an 11-year-old Japanese girl Yoko, who lived with her mother and older sister, returning to Japan from North Hamgyeong Province, Korea, and her hard life in Japan around the end of World War Ⅱ.
However, in this novel, Koreans are described as wicked people and racists who raped and assaulted Japanese people who are returning home after the defeat of the War, while Japanese people are portrayed as unjust victims and wartime refugees.
If a student learns the contents of this book without knowing the history of East Asia and the history of Korea during the Japanese colonial period, the student will perceive history as distorted, as if Koreans were perpetrators and Japanese were victims. What’s worse is that this book, known to vividly depict the horrors of war that lasted long in the past, and because of its excellence literary value, this book is being used as an anti-war textbook for American schools, teachers, and teenagers.
In 2007, protest campaigns by Korean Americans led California State Government to expel the book from public schools, but it is still adopted as a “required reading” book in eight states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, and Utah.
“So Far From the Bamboo Grove” cunningly introduces a “novel” as if it were a “true story”. On the back cover of the book states “It’s a true story of courage and survival”, but on the other hand, on the second page of the book says “Summary: A fictionalized autobiography in which eleven-year-old Yoko escapes from Korea to Japan at the end of World War Ⅱ.”
It is said that the “truth” is the first thing to be sacrificed in war. To say that a novel that distorts the truth contains a “true story” is in itself absurd. The novel should not yet be taught to students in middle school all over the U.S. as if it were a true story.
If one learns the novel without knowing about Imperialist Japan’s 35 years of forced occupation of the Korean Peninsula and the invasion of Asia, the one will understand the history of Asians, including Koreans suffering from Imperialist Japan, with misunderstandings and prejudices.
This novel added distortion to the truth that has already been damaged by the war itself. It is not an easy task to correct distortions of damaged truth and make it known in right way. However, correcting the distortions that have been prevalent in this book for nearly 40 years and bringing the truth right must begin now.
Accordingly, VANK requests Department of Education of eight states that have been confirmed to use the novel in classes to stop using “So Far from the Bamboo Grove” in classes.
Join VANK’s Global Petition and share Digital Posters to stop the use of “So Far From the Bamboo Grove” in American middle schools!
On the left side of the poster shows a front page of the novel, and on the right side describes “Schools and the Department of Education of every state should stop using this book!”, with the phrase of the Global Petition.