In Grass, Gendry-Kim tells the real-life account of a Lee Ok-sun, who was forced into sexual slavery as a young girl during World War II. And in The Waiting, she tells the story of a family suddenly torn apart when Korea was divided between North and South — a fictionalization based in Gendry-Kim's own research and family history.
Each is an emotional gut punch.
The legacies of both the comfort women and of the country's split is both traumatic and heavily politicized, both of which greatly impact how it's often been retold. But Gendry-Kim digs into the people who were most effected, the way they dealt with the awfulness they encountered, and the way they continue to deal with it today.
Jae Won Chung, a professor of Korean studies at Rutgers, stops by to help us make sense of the past.