When Spring Comes to the DMZ by Uk-Bae Lee

When Spring Comes to the DMZ is a book of contradictions.

It is a statement by a grandfather about his unhappiness being separated from the North but told by a child who has no background in a unified Korea. Through seasonal trips to the wall that borders the DMZ, we are shown how the DMZ – long abandoned by people – is now something of a wildlife refuge. Beautiful paintings show bucolic scenes tempered by razor wire and warnings in Korean.

The ending felt politicized to some extent (written originally in 2010 but advocating reunification at some level) and I wonder if this is the original intent of the author. I worried for all the animals wandering amongst the mines and (probably unwarrantedly) worried children would never grasp how destructive and dangerous the land there and in other demilitarized zones can be. Still, there is nothing like this on the market. For that and the pictures, this book should be considered. But for those libraries with Korean patrons, I would ask them their opinion and I would love to know the opinion of both Korean Americans and South Koreans on what their gut reaction was. #NetGalley