Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: We Married Koreans

Title: We Married Koreans
Edited by: Gloria Goodwin Hurh
Softcover: 212 pages
Publisher: Llumina Press (March 2009)
ISBN-10: 1605942154
ISBN-13: 978-1605942155

Gloria Goodwyn Hurh's book is a unique collection of twelve lifelong journeys of American women who married Korean men in the 1960s. Aside from having the current distinction of being the only of its kind, this book is a curiously telling hodgepodge of women who have stories that many will be interested in reading. However, is it just history repeating itself twelve times over or will there be enough to keep you flipping pages?

As described in the introduction, the undertaking for publishing these personal stories came about naturally but incredibly slowly. However, the final product stands as a social history for those to read in the future; much like the oft referenced 1953 inspiration "I Married A Korean" by Agnes Kim. Although three of the stories were written anonymously, most follow the same pattern of candid exposition and the entertaining frankness that only a seasoned soul can affectionately deliver.

Despite the hopelessly bland and colorfully mismatched cover, I was more than happy to discover that most stories had accompanying photos; usually one from the wedding and another taken decades later. The international appeal to the story and couple really came alive with the photos which were a very welcome addition to the already fascinating stories.

My only gripes are aimed at the somewhat narrowed scope of the book and demographic samples. The limitation of American women writing the book of their Korean husbands is one thing but the age limitation is another seemingly pointless requirement. I would have liked to have read more stories from all ages groups. Another puzzling constraint comes from a somewhat lack of diversity in the backgrounds of the groom's family. Most of the stories involve well-to-due Korean men who came to the states to study at universities on official government grants. Furthermore, regarding language, most of the groom's family members spoke English which was likely uncommon and unrepresentative of the population even for today's standards let alone for the post-Korean War era. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be an upwardly mobile bilingual Korean, but it seemed a bit of an elitist sampling.

All in all, though, despite the deceptively similar backgrounds of the people involved, We Married Koreans is an enjoyable easy read. However, you might feel like once you read one you've read them all which is a real shame because each couple is clearly a source for their own incomparable story. Anyone married to a Korean might find these anecdotes worthwhile.

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Okay okay, so this is hands down the gushiest book I've ever admitted to reading let alone reviewing (and yes, I still deny that I ever read any of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books because for all you know, I didn't). Yes, this collection of stories is a dedication to Agnes Kim's old school I Married A Korean (which Gusts of Popular Feeling covered quite nicely a few years back if you'll recall). Yes, it was interesting. Leave me alone about it

It's been a while since regular posting and I apologize for the wait but the book title should sum up what I've been up to recently. Since getting married in June, we;re getting ready for the baby next year. Becoming a father might place a bit of strain on free time for the blog, to say the least.


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