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Ten Thousand Sorrows
Elizabeth Kim
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Ten Thousand Sorrows

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,172 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
The night Elizabeth Kim watched her grandfather and uncle hang her mother from the wooden rafter in the corner of their small Korean hut would forever define her life. Omma had committed the sin of sleeping with an American soldier, and producing not just a bastard, but a mixed-race child, considered worthless. Abandoned at a Christian orphanage in post-war Seoul like so m ...more
Published (first published 2000)
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Sabrina Rutter
WOW! I don't think words can do justice for the way this book made me feel. I have read a lot of heartwrenching true life stories, but this is beyond that. The things Elizabeth Kim has been through in her life is beyond anything anyone should ever have to endure. I was already crying by page 20, and continued to cry throughout this entire memoir.
Kim makes a great point in her book that I really hope those adopting from other countries take heed to. These days so many people are adopting children
Vikki Carter
Jul 18, 2012 Vikki Carter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had me crying, laughing, and left me exhausted by the last page. It is a honest and heartfelt account of her life, and the prejudice she faces. At no point does she ever feel sorry for herself, or act like a wounded party, she does not ask for pity. Her story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit when faced with such massive adversity. This book serves to teach us all a lesson, even if it's just that we should be grateful at all times for what we have.
Jill Smith
May 21, 2012 Jill Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Kim is a journalist who relates her survival in Korea and horrific experience in a post-war Seoul orphanage, to be adopted by an American family. On the surface this would seem to be a tragic tale with a happy ending

As an illegitimate mixed blood baby born into a small village in Korea she and her mother were ostracised from the community, but her mother ‘Omma’ taught her to be respectful and bow. She did not understand why no one in the village spoke to them or why they spat or threw
Nov 23, 2012 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By the end of this year, Korea will have put a lid on international adoptions. This is sad news for everyone under the age of 45 outside Korea who wants to adopt children, but it's great news for Korean babies born out of wedlock, because it means they can be adopted internally. Many people know the background behind Chinese adoptions - one child per family; girls valued less; babies put in parks to be found. Korea's backstory is very different; the issue here is born-out-of-wedlock status. It's ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Mandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Okay, only two stars, but that is because these days this book would be shelved as mis-lit - and that is a genre I avoid, as although I have tons of sympathy for poeple who had to live through such awful times - I don't want to immerse myself in their experience as it is too distressing. I am pleased that the writers get to work through their experience by writing about it, I just don't really want to read about it in this format. I would prefer reading a historical account that would be less em ...more
Mari Butler
Sep 20, 2011 Mari Butler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Kim’s book is a shocking account of racism and abuse from the perspective of a mixed-race daughter of a Korean mother and American soldier. As a small child her mother has her hide when her grandfather comes to hang her mother for dishonoring their family. She listens through a basket where she is told to hide while her mother is forced to commit suicide. Later she is caged like an animal by a Christian adoption agency. She continues to suffer at the hands of her new parents who eventu ...more
Jun 30, 2011 Josie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite courtesy
That you should see me
Immeasurable grace
For you to believe
That I, the faceless child of darkness
Could enter into hallowed halls of love
Could touch, and find no shame in touching.
could hope, and find hope not in vain.
A peace beyond my understanding
Has fallen on my head like gentle rain.

Elizabeth Kim from her book 'Ten Thousand Sorrows'
Ten Thousand Sorrows The Extraordinary Journey of a Korean War Orphan by Elizabeth Kim
Hazel McHaffie
Jul 31, 2010 Hazel McHaffie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'I don't know how old I was when I watched my mother's murder, nor do I know how old I am today,' Elizabeth Kim writes. The illegitimate daughter of a Korean peasant girl and an American GI she was regarded as a non-person. Her story - of her beginnings, of her time in an orphanage, of her adoption by a fanatically religious American couple, of her struggle to survive ('I live on the lip of insanity') - make harrowing reading. But the book is compelling nonetheless, and is ultimately a story of ...more
Zorphie Zorro
Dec 28, 2013 Zorphie Zorro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir about the author's journey to compassion and forgiveness, most notably towards herself. Emotionally, it isn't an easy read--it covers topics such as survivor's guilt, mental and physical abuse, abandonment, culture shock, racism, and other traumas--but the prose is precise and sublime. What I especially liked is that the author really captured the feelings she had at the time, as a young child all the way through adulthood, instead of telling the entire story with the wisdom of ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Babs rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting little book, detailing the life of "Elizabeth" Kim, born to a Korean mother and American GI father. Brandished a honhyol (a "non-person") because of her mixed race, her early life was filled with jeers and abuse from the other villagers where Elizabeth and her mother lived in relative isolation. When she was a young girl, her mother was killed by her father and brother in an "honour killing" for bringing shame on the family. Elizabeth escaped a life of slavery and was inst ...more
Aug 24, 2013 Arlene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Another reader described this book as MisLit and I must agree. It is a story of the misery of a young girl who is the product a liason between an American GI and a Korean woman during the Korean Conflict. She is considered a Non Person in Korea and is sent to an orphanage after her grandfather and uncle take part in an Honor Killing of Elizabeth's mother. And it just gets worse and worse. I truly feel sorry for people with tragic lives but I just have problems reading about it. Like the Glass Ca ...more
A memoir of an illegitimate daughter of a Korean peasant and an American soldier born post the Korean war. Mixed children were not considered humans at that time and were socially outcasted by their society. Not long before have Elizabeth witnessed her mother’s murder in an “Honour Killing” while trying to save her daughter from being taken as a slave. Then Elizabeth was dumped into a missionary orphanage in Seoul where circumstances weren’t very pleasant.
But the story doesn’t end here, Elizabet
May 01, 2014 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powerful book. Elizabeth's bravery to put her pain out in print is to be commended. Many don't seem to want to believe it - but I think they don't WANT to believe it. As an adoptee and adoptive parent, it resonated with me in some very deep ways. My fundamental upbringing along with abuse from an adoptive parent allowed me to understand much of her issues - although I did not have the horrible experience of an orphanage. But my young daughter has; hopefully not as hideous as Elizabeth's caging. ...more
Lynn Joshua
Oct 21, 2015 Lynn Joshua rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The first chapter is shocking and drew me into reading Kim's story, but the longer I read, the more I began to find most of the author's claims highly doubtful. There are too many questionable events, outright errors, and contradictions. Since there is no documentation given at all, I must conclude that Ms. Kim made up many of the details in this story. If she's really a journalist, she would know better than to claim her memoirs are the truth without any facts to back it up. As a novel, it fail ...more
 Barb Bailey
Elizabeth Kim was the offspring of a Korean mother and American father during or right after the Korean War.
Because her parents were not married Elizabeth at about age 4 years was witness to her mothers' honor killing.
She then is placed in an orphanage in Soule.After a few months Elizabeth is adopted by American parents. Unexpectedly her story does not get much better.Elizabeth feels less than, is ridiculed, physically and mentally abused......her childhood is not plesant or happy. Although wel
Apr 07, 2013 Janna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this autobiography by Elizabeth Kim, was another reminder of how "man" can be so downright cruel to each other and for so many reasons. We see some form of cruelty everyday.

Although I had lot of compassion for Elizabeth and hated the dreadful things that occurred to her, I really did not particularly enjoy reading this book but also at the same time I needed to continue to find out how things turned out.

While writing her life story it seems she has been able to finally put her past whe
Sep 23, 2008 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Such a sad book, but how often are memoirs truly happy? It was sad, and parts also made me angry. The author had a good writing style, but the ending just seemed sloppy and rushed. It's almost as if she put all her passion into describing her childhood and all the trials, and then when she started to learn about herself and what she needed, she seemed to lose interest in writing about it. I wasn't happy with the way she ended the book, it seemed as if she had given up about halfway through and d ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Linda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I wrote a review of this book for Seattle's International Examiner, I stated that the memoir was so horrific it was unbelievable. Since then several reviewers have commented upon the accuracy of the narrative, particularly the practice of Koreans and "honor killings". What is telling is the publisher (Doubleday) issued a statement stating there is not enough evidence to support her description of these kinds of killings.

I stand by my review: a riveting if incredulous read.
Oct 30, 2013 Lily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this years ago and I don't quite remember why I did. I remember getting the feeling that some events seemed exaggerated so the author could get more pity points. No matter whether the events are 100% true or not, that's how I felt it was written. Did not like this book.
Jan 13, 2017 Jenni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-koreas
Until I started browsing a few others' reviews on this book, I had never heard the term "Mis-Lit" to describe a particular genre of book! Apparently this is my favored subject matter...for whatever reason.

With that said, this was a tragic, heartbreaking "misery literature" memoir of a child that was the product of a Korean woman/American GI liaison, watched her mother be put to death, and was adopted by a fundamentalist Christian couple from the United States. Granted, had she not been adopted,
Serena.. Sery-ously?
La "colpa" di Elizabeth è quella di essere una figlia illeggitma nella Corea degli anni '50.
La colpa effettiva dei parenti è quella di essere dei mostri.
La colpa dei genitori adottivi invece, è quella di essere stati ottusi e ciechi, incapaci (e non disposti) a comprendere una bambina traumatizzata sradicata a forza dal suo paese, dai suoi affetti e dal suo mondo.
Non so sinceramente chi volevo picchiare per prima e più duramente, giuro.. E' stata una bella lotta!
Elizabeth (nome che gli viene dat
Nov 28, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bow to you Miss Kim, for a most beautiful and yet painful book. I will be sharing it with my friend who I know will identify with it in some way. You are an amazing lady. Thank you, barbara
Dec 15, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: families who want to adopt
Sometimes it takes a heart-wrenching story to see the heartbreak living in each one of us. Sometimes books leave us hanging. Sometimes they resolve beautifully. Yet, the commonality we all share as human creatures, though complex and different, is very similar in regard to our shared struggles over eternal matters.

I loved this book for the emotions it made me live through and experience. I loved it because of the many ways I could personally relate to Kim's story. Our stories are very different
Ирина Йорданова
As I was going trough my TBR pile, resting for ages there were those Ten Thousand Sorrows of a Korean war orphan. She had to endure not one black-and-white radical believe system, but many. She survived being illegitimate baby of a young Korean woman and a GI in post-war Korea, she survived being adopted in America, she survived the racism and morals of the small town, she survived the firm Christian family and found a way to appreciate them and love them, just to find another misfortune of an a ...more
Mar 19, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book is a memoir by Elizabeth Kim. She was born in Korea shortly after the Korean War. Her mother was Korean but her father was a white American soldier. Elizabeth lived with her mother Omma tried to raise her for a few years in poverty. Elizabeth witnessed her mother's murder committed by Omma's father and brother. now an orphan she was taken to a Christian orphanage where she spent a year caged in a bed. soon she is sent to America and adopted by a couple. The title "Ten Thousand Sorrows' ...more
Carol Doane
Elizabeth Kim presents a mirror for us to judge how we treat each other, how Christian communities and families can become oppressive and thrust horrendous expectations on women to obey, to accept their lot and be grateful for the accompany suffering. After experiencing multiple losses, many with an undercurrent of racism, Kim’s life lingers in depression. She stands on the threshold of suicide and must decide if she values life.

Loss is a consistent theme that threads its way through Elizabeth K
Feb 11, 2013 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely have mixed feelings on this auto-biography.

On one hand her life was not an easy. Being of a mixed race especially in Korea during the time period she lived in was difficult and there were a lot of Korean adoptions. Her childhood was nothing short of horrific and obviously it scarred her in adulthood.

what conflicts me about this story is that even though I am sure there were many adoptions like hers, there are also plenty of adoptions where the children were not scarred and lived a
Allison Naprstek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alicia Ng
Mar 09, 2016 Alicia Ng rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Breathtaking. Read it in one sitting because I couldn't bear to put it down. I was swept along into Kim's past and present. Every time I think the world couldn't possibly be more cruel, I'm proven wrong. Kim endured things that no human should ever have to experience in their lives--from watching her mother murdered right in front of her, being sent off to an orphanage where no one paid any attention to the children, being adopted by Fundamentalist Christians who literally attempted to beat her ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Sapna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sapna by: my mum I guess
This was a book my mum gave me (not so much as a gift, she just gave it to me) and that in itself contributed to the rush of feelings and emotion I felt when I read this, because of the whole background of the authors own mother. I started reading this when I was quite young and never really got the chance to finish it but then again I was able to pick it up again and again I did not finish technically I have not really read the whole story but would love to pick it up again as an adult. ...more
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Elizabeth Kim is a journalist and the author of the best selling novel "Ten Thousand Sorrows", which has been chronicled in O, Oprah Winfrey's magazine.

Kim was born in Korea to a Korean mother and an American father who had deserted her mother.
More about Elizabeth Kim...

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“We all struggle alone through the ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows of our lives.” 11 likes
“People said things to me like "They're just animals. They're here for our use." I had a visceral reaction to that phrase, maybe because I was told countless times during my growing-up years that I was "just like an animal." I had suffered much of my life because I was considered less than human. Animals were suffering because they were less than human. And it seemed to me that human didn't have much to be proud of, if they treated other living things with such blind cruelty.” 10 likes
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