It is the thirty-second year of Japanese occupation in Korea and tens of thousands of young women have disappeared from the peninsula. Like so many others, Ki-Hwa Kim’s parents imposed a lifelong seclusion on their only daughter, but a tragic error in judgment ended their cautious life.
Forced into sexual slavery as a ‘comfort woman’ for the Japanese Army, Ki-Hwa is shipped to the South Pacific island fortress of Rabaul to be the mistress of a legendary Cavalry Officer. Allied Forces pummel the island in preparation for an inevitable invasion. Paranoia grips the garrison when Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor, is killed in an Allied ambush shortly after leaving Rabaul and fingers are pointed in every direction.
Within this chaos, life for Ki-Hwa and hundreds of others in the comfort stations is survival of the fittest. Once a farm girl afraid of her own shadow, Ki-Hwa discovers people are callous, sadistic, and deceitful and must find the strength to resist the mighty and unforgiving Empire along with her one true friend. But when an imposter threatens to unravel the group's carefully laid plans she is forced to make an impossible choice between guaranteed security and a shaky promise of freedom.
Told from various perspectives – Japanese pilots and soldiers, Americans, prisoners of war, sex slaves and others – The Comfort Station, by New York Times best-selling author, Kelly Crigger, is a historical fiction novel written that draws you into a world that few of us even were aware about.
Fast paced, emotional, and suspenseful, the story is about the plight of Ki-Hwa Kim and those engulfed in the Pacific during World War 2. Ki-Hwa grows through the experiences of being abandoned and taken prisoner by the Japanese Army, traveling across the sea and forced into slavery, and swept up into intrigue and war.
One amazing part of the book is when a malevolent Japanese sergeant attacks Ki-Hwa and the two of them fight in a bunker during an air raid…bombs exploding and shaking the bunker as the back drop to a fight to the death.
The other characters are exceptionally developed and fascinating, as well. The Allied spies and coast watchers determined to rescue POWs held with Ki-Hwa work, suffer and fight. The Japanese characters run the gamut of professional soldiers and pilots to horrific villains – all challenged by their military orders, Japanese heritage and sense of humanity.
The complex plot is paced like a spy thriller, with breathless action and suspenseful intrigue set amid enthralling historical locations. While the story is about war and revenge, it is more about hope and courage.
The Comfort Station is nothing less than a page-turning triumph. The best indicator of its value that I can give you is that, when I finished the book, I realized that I wanted the author to keep going, and I wanted to learn more about the history of the comfort stations and the plight of those women forced into slavery...