PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

"My parents generally will not talk about the war:" Author interviewed others to research book.

Author Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Author Marie Myung-Ok Lee

The parents of Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of The Evening Hero, immigrated from Korea to the U.S. after the Korean War. But Lee couldn't depend on them to fill her in on what it was like for Koreans of their generation—she had to research elsewhere. And hearing other peoples' stories ultimately gave her more empathy for what her parents had gone through.

"Most people of my generation have parents who, everybody lived through the war," Lee said. "I mean, it killed like 3 million people. Almost as many families got separated. My parents generally will not talk about the war. My mother actually has dementia now. But before that I used to sign her up for these oral history projects, I'd be like, if someone else is asking her about it, like on camera, she'll talk about it. But no. She hasn't. I've read a lot of textbooks and histories, but this book is actually based much more on the survivors that I've interviewed. People of my parents' age. So in a weird way, I've gotten a lot more empathy for my parents' trauma and so forth by learning other peoples' stories. I'm almost wondering if subconsciously this is the way I am able to find out what my parents could have gone through, but by talking to other people. And I feel like other people probably also felt more comfortable talking to me because I'm a stranger."

Hear Marie Myung-Ok Lee Wednesday at 1 and 9 on the Gulf Coast Life Book Club, or wherever you get your podcasts.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.