The Kite Fighters

The Kite Fighters

Book - 2000
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In a riveting narrative set in fifteenth-century Korea, two brothers discover a shared passion for kites. Kee-sup can craft a kite unequaled in strength and beauty, but his younger brother, Young-sup, can fly a kite as if he controlled the wind itself. Their combined skills attract the notice of Korea's young king, who chooses Young-sup to fly the royal kite in the New Year kite-flying competition--an honor that is also an awesome responsibility. Although tradition decrees, and the boys' father insists, that the older brother represent the family, both brothers know that this time the family's honor is best left in Young-sup's hands. This touching and suspenseful story, filled with the authentic detail and flavor of traditional Korean kite fighting, brings a remarkable setting vividly to life. AUTHOR'S NOTE.

Publisher: New York : Clarion Books, c2000.
ISBN: 9780395940419
Branch Call Number: j F PARK L
Characteristics: 136 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Park, Eung Won


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Feb 04, 2018

Kite Fighters is about the power dynamics within the traditional Korean family. Kee-sup and Young-sup are the sons of a bureaucrat in medieval Korea. Because Kee-sup is the oldest son, he is expected to study hard and take the civil service examination required for important bureaucratic positions. Young-sup is the second son. He is neither expected nor encouraged to sit for the examination. While Kee-sup is methodical and artistic, Young-sup is daring, instinctive and enjoys a challenge. Because of their personalities, Kee-sup is able to make it through his studies, but Young-sup is the one with the true passion for learning.

Kee-sup's passion is in building things, and thus while he has little skill flying a kite, he can make one perfectly. Young-sup lacks the attention to detail required to build a great kite, but he knows automatically how to fly one.

Although the brothers' relationship is fraught with some tension, they are able to work together to construct and fly their kite so well that they draw the attention of the boy-king of Korea. Although supposedly all-powerful, the boys immediately recognize both the loneliness and burdens the king feels. They are then honored and touched when the king asks them to fly a kite for him during the annual kite festival, which he cannot participate in. The description of the festival is rich in detail, but not tiresome, and while the reader can guess the outcome, the author successfully and even somewhat suspensefully draws it out.

Although Young-sup is the primary voice of the story, the author shows that both brothers should have our sympathy. While tradition requires Young-sup to work that much harder for any recognition from his father, it demands that Kee-sup take a path which he agrees to but is not entirely cut out for. While Young-sup resents his brother's privileges and Kee-sup envies his brother's freedom, it is obvious that the two depend on each other for their happiness.

Park also drops a few references to the examination system which dominated Korean society for hundreds of years and is in large part responsible for the importance of education in modern Korea. While selections for civil service jobs are supposed to be made on the basis of merit- or the results of the exam- it is known even to these young boys that who you know can still be very important in securing a good job. One must wonder how that cynical knowledge mingled with the strict lessons in Confucian values about honor for children in this culture.


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Jul 28, 2012

indigo_dog_157 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 12


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