Min Jin Lee

“God controls all things, but we don’t understand his reasons. Sometimes, I don’t like his actions, either. It’s frustrating.”

2 thoughts on “Min Jin Lee

  1. shinichi Post author

    by Min Jin Lee

    Min Jin Lee
    Min Jin Lee (born 1968) is a Korean American author and journalist based in Manhattan. Her work frequently deals with Korean and Korean American topics. She is the author of the novels Free Food for Millionaires (2007) and Pachinko (2017).
    Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her family came to the United States in 1976, when she was seven years old, and she grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, in New York City. Her parents owned a wholesale jewelry store there. As a new immigrant, she spent much time at the Queens Public Library, where she learned to read and write. She attended the Bronx High School of Science, and later studied history at Yale College in Trumbull College. While at Yale she attended her first writing workshop, as part of a nonfiction-writing class she’d signed up for in her junior year. She also studied law at Georgetown University Law Center, later working as a corporate lawyer in New York from 1993 to 1995. She quit law due to the extreme working hours and her chronic liver disease, deciding to focus on her writing instead. She lived in Tokyo, Japan, for four years from 2007 to 2011. Lee resides in Harlem, Manhattan, with her son, Sam, and her husband, Christopher Duffy, who is half Japanese.

  2. shinichi Post author



    “Ajumoni , do you believe in God?”
    She shook her head no. “My husband said Christians were not bad people. Some were patriots who fought for independence. Right?”
    “Yes, my teachers at the seminary in Pyongyang fought for independence. My oldest brother died in 1919.”
    “Are you political, too?” She looked concerned; Hoonie had told her that they should avoid housing activists because it would be dangerous. “Like your brother?”
    “My brother Samoel was a pastor. He led me to Christ. My brother was a brilliant man. Fearless and kind.”
    Yangjin nodded. Hoonie had wanted independence for Korea, but he believed that a man had to care for his family first.
    “My husband didn’t want us to follow anyone — not Jesus, not Buddha, not an emperor or even a Korean leader.”
    “I understand. I do.”
    “So many terrible things are happening here.”
    “God controls all things, but we don’t understand his reasons. Sometimes, I don’t like his actions, either. It’s frustrating.”
    Yangjin shrugged.
    “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose,” Isak said, reciting a favorite verse, but he could see that Yangjin was unmoved, and it occurred to him that she and her daughter could not love God if they did not know him.
    “I am sorry that you are suffering. I’m not a parent, but I think parents hurt with their children.”
    The boardinghouse keeper was lost in her sadness.
    “I’m glad you had a chance to walk a little today,” she said.
    “If you don’t believe, I understand,” he said.


    A girl normally hard to win over, Yumi admired her teacher, whom all the students called Pastor John. To her, John represented a Korean being from a better world where Koreans weren’t whores, drunks, or thieves. Yumi’s mother, a prostitute and alcoholic, had slept with men for money or drinks, and her father, a pimp and a violent drunk, had been imprisoned often for his criminality. Yumi felt that her three elder half sisters were as sexually indiscriminate and common as barn animals. Her younger brother had died as a child, and soon after, at fourteen years old, Yumi ran away from home with her younger sister and somehow supported them with small jobs in textile factories until the younger sister died. Over the years, Yumi had become an excellent seamstress. She refused to acknowledge her family, who lived in the worst sections of Osaka. If she spotted a woman who had even a passing resemblance to her mother on any street, Yumi would cross to the other side or turn around to walk away. From watching American movies, she had decided that one day she would live in California and planned on becoming a seamstress in Hollywood. She knew Koreans who had returned to North Korea and many more who had gone back to the South, yet she could not muster any affection for either nation. To her, being Korean was just another horrible encumbrance, much like being poor or having a shameful family you could not cast off. Why would she ever live there? But she could not imagine clinging to Japan, which was like a beloved stepmother who refused to love you, so Yumi dreamed of Los Angeles. Until Mozasu, with his swagger and enormous dreams, Yumi had never let a man into her bed, and now that she had attached herself to him, she wanted both of them to go to America to make another life where they wouldn’t be despised or ignored. She could not imagine raising a child here.


    At this, Mozasu nodded. He had been in trouble before, but no one had ever called the police. All his life, he had known about his father, who had been wrongfully imprisoned. Lately, Noa was warning him that since the Koreans in Japan were no longer citizens, if you got in trouble, you could be deported. Noa had told him that no matter what, Mozasu had to respect the police and be very deferential even if they were rude or wrong. Only a month ago, Noa had said a Korean had to be extra good. Once again, Mozasu felt bad for messing up and dreaded the look of disappointment that would surely appear on Noa’s face.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *