Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Review--We Married Koreans: Personal Stories of American Women with Korean Husbands

We Married KoreansI know I haven't done a book review in a long time; rest assured that it is not because I have gone the last few months without reading. Quite the contrary. In the last few months, I've been in a mad reading frenzy in an attempt to rid myself of all the books I had accumulated in Korea that I did not wish to bring back with me to the U.S. Fortunately, I discovered Bookmooch and an English used book cafe called Buy the Book (Downtown Daegu, above the Mr. Pizza on the main street with Communes and Billibow and the like), so all of my books went to loving homes.

One of the books I did want to keep with me, however, was We Married Koreans, a collection of 12 true stories of interracial, intercultural marriages between American women and Korean men in the 1960s. The collection is edited by Gloria Goodwin Hurh, whose own story appears in Chapter 5.

If you have any interest in American or Korean cultures during the last 50 years or in intercultural marriages in general, you should read this book. Do not be put off by the fact that it is self-published and therefore contains some errors in grammar and usage that (hopefully) would have been caught by a professional editor or that the women are not professional writers. It tells a fascinating history, both personal and cultural, of Korea as it struggled towards democracy (one woman's husband was imprisoned for anti-government demonstrations in Korea) and America as it struggled towards racial equality (many of the women speak frankly about some of the racial epithets hurled at their children). The couples mostly met, married, and lived in America, but most lived for at least a short time in Korea and one missionary couple spent most of their marriage in the Korean expat community in Brazil. I feel like I just sat down and read 12 very good personal blogs about Korea.

Each woman speaks positively of marriage and praises intercultural marriage, despite the challenges they have faced. None of them have divorced and most stories are accompanied by a picture of the couple from within the last five years, graying and wrinkled, but still together. I was particularly moved by the stories of Faye Moon, Dixie Whong, and Sharon Shin, but I got something new and interesting from each story. Many of the women were Christian missionaries or united to their husband by a strong faith, which did not speak to me as much as it might have to someone from their era, but I still enjoyed reading the book very much.

I can only hope that Min Gi and I will be as happy together in our future as these couples seem to be.


  1. Well said; other reviews from WWKM marriages have left me wondering if there was any substance to the book or not. Your review makes me interested in actually look for the book.

    Your first 5 days was a good read as well. The descriptive differences made it easy to picture and appreciate.

  2. Well, I'm really into personal histories. ;-) If you can look past the fact that these women are not professional writers, and that it is not professionally edited and aren't too turned off by a bit of Christian rhetoric (remembering that many of these women were missionaries--it's really small, but I know people where even a mention of "I'm Christian" ruins a book for them), then it's full of goodness. Think of it more as transcribed, unedited interviews than a book and you'll probably enjoy it!



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