. . . While there are historic highs and lows during the colonial period in Korea, Kim is not tempted to exploit the brutal events in a dramatic or axe-griding way. She writes with an evenness of mood and tone throughout the book. Sometimes, the feel of the story drifts into modernity with feminist sensibilities. Kim also injects themes of maintaining nationalism over imperialism, and traditionalism against change. Interestingly, these themes parallel the current events of Korean culture and identity to globalization.
The length and breadth of the Han saga is quite moving. Author Eugenia Kim is a skilled writer and engages the reader. She employs a deliberate genteel style and slow movement, narrated mostly through the eyes of Najin. The characters are largely sympathetic. Even Ilsun, the wastrel son, who balks at continuing the family legacy in times of change and turbulence, is not without redemption. While her story mutes the violence and darker events of Koreans under Japanese colonialism, Kim's prose does not avoide them.
The story ends in 1945 with the liberation of Korea and the reunification of the Han family. It would be interesting to see Kim's saga after immigration of the family to the U.S. With the success of THE CALLIGRAPHER’S DAUGHTER, perhaps Najin and the Han legacy can continue to include a story about immigrants in the 21st century.