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Quiet Odyssey

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  114 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Mary Paik Lee, born Paik Kuang Sun in 1900, left her native country in 1905, traveling with her parents as a political refugee after Japan imposed control over Korea at the close of the Russo-Japanese War. Her father labored in the sugar plantations of Hawaii for a year and a half before taking his family to California, where Mrs. Lee has lived ever since. Though her fathe ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published April 1st 1990 by University of Washington Press (first published January 1990)
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Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the autobiography of a Korean woman, Mary Paik Lee (née Paik Kuang Sun), who as a child immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s - one of the few Koreans who were able to do so before immigration from Asia was shut off. Her story is a firsthand account of the discrimination and obstacles that came along with being poor, Asian, and female in that era. She lived at a time when alien land laws in California restricted real-property rights for Asians (although her family was able t ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am so grateful that this published account and primary text even exists. Ms. Mary Paik Lee's autobiography illuminates the ways in which her family struggled--through poverty, the racially-charged climate of the U.S., and harsh working conditions--and how they pioneered the way for future waves of Korean Americans.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal, truly affecting memoir/autobiography that managed to inspire and fill me with hope while utterly demolishing me with so many feels.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
As an outsider looking in on the Asian-American experience, I found myself engrossed in this autobiography. Mary Paik Lee is part of a very small group of Koreans who immigrated at the onset of Japanese invasion around 1900, before immigration out of Korea was essentially shut down. Reading her story in her own words helped me understand and empathize more with the immigrant journey and struggle to stay sheltered and fed in a foreign, racist climate. I cannot begin to understand what life was (a ...more
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
When I started to read this book I expected it to be good in an informative sort of way, but wasn't expecting a whole lot of enjoyment from the reading process. I loved it. Mary Lee's story is an amazing one and her manner of telling it quite engaging!

This story is one that shows how amazing the human spirit really is. Through incredibly hard work, Mary & her family were able to make their way in the U.S. It took a long time and a LOT of work, but they succeeded. It left me inspired to work
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who is recent Asian American Immigrant.
Shelves: own-it
Any recent Asian Immigrant can relate to what the main character of the story goes through. I find it very heart breaking to see the Mary, and all of her sisters and brothers went through such financial hardship through out their entire life. I find if very touching to read the story of what Mary's youngest son had to go through...he did not have the opportunity to further his schooling by graduating from college like all of his brothers did...I find it touching to read that neither did Mary nor ...more
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
same w emma, essential read for understanding migrant/immigrant/people's history
firsthand narrative from a female pioneer from Korea. fascinating life this woman lived! very readable.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating piece of American history!
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Mary Paik Lee (1900–1995) was a Korean American writer. She is most known for her autobiography, Quiet Odyssey : A Pioneer Korean Woman in America. She was born Paik Kuang-Sun in Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea. Her parents decided to leave Korea when the Japanese and their growing presence in Korea took control over their home. In 1905, they arrived in Hawaii where they started anew.[2] ...more
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