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Ten Thousand Sorrows: The Extraordinary Journey of a Korean War Orphan

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2003

    Truly extraordinary

    This is an amazing life story. After finishing the book, I felt instictively drawn to experience anew the power of compassion and tenderness. If we could only live with the full intesity with which Elizabeth Kim celebrates love and joy, perhaps then we would not take for granted the simple happiness of knowing that we are loved. This book is among one of the best memoirs I have read--you will deifnitely be moved and empowered.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Immensely Touching Memoir ...

    Loved this book so much !! Elizabeth Kim has a very unique style of describing her past events and how these events have affected her. She has an individualistic way of applying adjectives. The words just flow like the wind; in such a beautiful way. She has brought out the obvious in the characterizations from person to person. She also had the strength within herself to expose the ones in her life, who have drastically pushed and pulled her emotionally. There is no holding back for this woman, regarding the diversified experiences that have occurred in her life. God bless her ...

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Elizabeth Kim Ten Thousand Sorows Review by Professor S Pryor(ROK)

    I waited until Ihad time to read this small book, and I read it from cover to cover in 1 4-5 hour sitting!
    The story is not new to me, but each time I read another Korean suvivors story I get a better understanding of this elusive culture.
    Altho I have lived in Korea and taught there for nearly a decade South Korea and her traditions are like layers and layers of the thinest tissue wrapping something small, precious and unique, unbelievably unique.
    Anyone considering adoption of a child from another country should read this account.
    Anyone considering really living in ROK should read this account.
    Kim tells her story candidly but with a naievity that is almost as frightening as the story...
    I would love to retrace her steps....and those steps of others in similar situations, no one can know what it is like to be a one should ever feel like this and yet many of these feelings still underpin the traditions and cultural practices of various countries - and if one bothers to understand the historic culture of Korea altho what happened to Kim was/is barbaric it is the result of a country that has been abused and bullied and stripped of it's clothing and left naked many Paulo Friere says 'There are oppressors and the oppressed and there is very little difference between them, when the oppressed are oppressed they declare they'd never treat any one like that, but when they rise above their oppression and their oppressors they in fact inflict the same ... an so the cycle goes.' Kim and others like her are paving the road to a new way a new path...of healing and hurt and honesty and somehow being better people despite all..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2002


    This is one cool book... I'm korean, and after reading this book, made me realize what I take for granted. I learned alot more about the korean culture. I recommend everyone to read this awesome book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2001

    Starkly told realism

    Elizabeth Kim's stylistic strength is the child-like simplicity of her telling of a story that should never have to be told. Caught between two worlds, she is injured by both. Does the story go on too long? If it were shorter, readers would want to know how she's doing now. Well, she tells us, and gives us as happy an ending as life could make for such a horrible start. Yet she really reveals herself, and her love for her Mother. What a fighter, what a survivor. This is a 'pro-life' story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, all through childhood. It's not easy to take some of the scenes. But here she is, in a way a 'bridge' spanning two cultures, determined to live despite the contempt she faces, first from one world, then from another. I would recommend this book for adults.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2001

    be ready to face the reality

    it IS an 'extraordinary journey of an Korean War Orphan.' but the main focus is the ::journey:: not of being a korean nor being an orphan although it plays a major factor in its story. the will to endure such pain and hardship is admirable. the love and compassion for the unfortunate should be learned. Ten Thousand Sorrow not only tells the story of the life of a Korean Orphan but also teaches us the value of love, family, and search for identity. everyone must MUST definitely read this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2001

    Very touching story about true 'love' 'sacrifice'

    This book is real- the character defines herself through a very diffcult and important years of 'childhood' life. This book will make the reader to really feel the importance of love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2000

    a brilliant parody of the mawkish memoir genre

    Kim has written a wonderful parody of the new trend for self-pitying memoirs - the hilariously over-the-top title alone is reason enough to buy the book. But even cleverer is the way she takes ho-hum childhood unpleasantness and elevates it to the level of trauma. She had to wash the dishes growing up! The other students in class didn't like her book report! The reason I know this must be a parody is that Kim cleverly strews the book with tip-offs that the story is not true. For example, she says she was watching The Elephant Man on television with her husband in the mid 1970s, years before the movie was even released in theaters. She also parodies the growing gullibility of memoir readers by leaving out all names, facts, locations - the story has a fairy tale feel to it which I'm sure was intentional. Thank you, Elizabeth Kim, for a very entertaining read -

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2000

    From Another Searching Spirit...

    Being married happily to another person who grew up in this country with the prejudice faced by one who is half-Korean, half-Caucasian, we both sobbed and rejoiced along with Elizabeth as she recounted her life-long struggles with self-image, love, the cruelty of dogmatic religeon, and gradual self-fulfillment. We've both fallen in love with her, and wish only that we could somehow tell her so. Daniel and Ben

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2000

    powerful and moving

    This is an amazingly personal narration that cannot fail to reach any reader. The author has used simple and powerful language to describe the horrors she has been through as well as the fragile links that helped keep her afloat. My heart goes out to Ms. Kim and her daughter and wishes them well. Amazingly, the author has skillfully avoided using the the book to lambast others with blame. The inner strength demonstrated by the author seems to have been dervived from her short but sweet life with her Omma.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2000

    One of the best memoirs I ever read!

    I enjoy reading the memoirs, especially when the story is about an Asian woman. Like Memoirs of a Geisha and Falling Leaves, I really enjoyed reading this book. When I was reading the author's childhood both in Korea and in the U.S., my heart just went out for that little girl and wanted to make everything better for her. She went through so much physically and emotionally, and yet, she overcame all those obstacles and became a strong woman. I strongly believe that her Omma would be very pleased the way author survived and not giving up her life. Also, I would like to give my hands to Leigh, who supported her mother the whole time. I have read this book in three hours first time, and at this moment I am on my second reading of this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2000

    A human story...

    This is a superb and excellent book that I enjoyed immensely because of the author¡¯s willingness to completely share her very personal story. Hers is one important story of the 200,000 children of Korean descent who were adopted overseas. Elizabeth¡¯s dual voices show: the professional journalist voice in the clarity and depth of her narrative and the poet¡¯s voice that transforms her work into one that shows the reflecting pool of her life in it¡¯s many subtleties and textures. It is the storm of chance that creates and propels Elizabeth¡¯s life. Through her narrative, we can imagine Elizabeth as a child born into difficult circumstances (a mixed race child in Korea), adopted by American parents who are exceptionally difficult, and her difficult and torturous adulthood. After reading the book, I imagined Elizabeth¡¯s story as one of a little girl rowing in a small dinghy caught in a storm of biblical proportions: lightening flashing, sea sick high waves, driving sheets of rain, and violent and shrieking winds. We root for her as she rows forward through the storm of life; we cringe with fear on her behalf on the battering that she takes from the life waves; and we applaud her search for the calm seas and the shores of sanity. The warm glow from her birth mother¡¯s spirit is the lodestar that guides Elizabeth, and this spirit provides us hope that perhaps there is a whisper of chance that Elizabeth will arrive on the shores of sanity and love. As I read the book, I feared for Elizabeth, the child and the adult, and hoped that her experiences in her tortuous life have not embittered her, that her scars both physical and emotional have healed. Perhaps that is too much, for surely her experiences would have left most of us bitter, angry, and emotionally distant. Perhaps the great emotional wounds that she has suffered neither the time of healing or even the healing herbs of the Centaur would provide the necessary healing properties. And against all hope, against all logic, against all reason, we find out if Elizabeth triumphs and provides us, the reader, that most important and wonderful graces that life provides us: hope. With all my being and soul, I believe that Elizabeth¡¯s birth mother¡¯s spirit would be both happy and proud of her achievements in life and this wondrous book. Peter K. Kwak

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