Posted in Book Review

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook & Ryan Estrada


Published: May 19, 2020

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Format: e-ARC

Pages: 204


When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.

This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.

In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.


This book is an autobiography in graphic novel format following a Korean college student during the military regime in South Korea, where books are banned, and a lot of political propaganda and torture are everywhere.

The story follows the journey of the main character as she uncovers the truth behind their government’s lies and power play. The story is set in the 1980s South Korea. Even though the story takes place more than a decade ago, it felt timely and relevant today, for people are still crying for justice not only in South Korea but all around the world. In addition to this, the point of view of a student during this time was rawer than an adult. Age does not matter when it comes to punishing individuals who are committing crimes against their government. However, it is more inspiring as people of such a young age already has a notion of justice.

The message of the story is very powerful. I hope everyone will read this to enlighten them of the reason as to why some people would not be silent and why they are so passionate about what they are fighting for.

Highly recommend this if you have not read it yet. The art style is also beautiful. It is a fast yet powerful read.

That is all for this review. Until next time!



A reader who becomes a villain, a queen, a princess, a heroine, and a warrior depends on the story that she reads. A dreamer who wishes to dwell in the world that she visited through the pages of her book. A frustrated blogger who wishes to put into words the frustration, boredom, and excitement that she felt throughout her many journeys outside the real world.

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