The Book of the Week is the memoir, “To Kill a Tiger” by Jid Lee, published in 2010. The author describes the extreme hardships (“tigers”) she endured growing up, due to the culture of her generation in South Korea.
After WWII, North Korean dictator Syngman Rhee and South Korean dictator Kim Il Sung both conducted witchhunts to root out political dissidents, torturing and killing them. Kim was aided by the U.S. in his oppressive endeavors. The author’s father engaged in anti-government, pro-socialist activities as a college student, and as a consequence, was: expelled from a prestigious university, tortured, imprisoned and forced to accept a lowly position teaching instead of “selling out” to become a high government official. Yes, this happened in South Korea.
The education system was based on rote learning. The author, born in 1955, unfortunately had trouble with memorization, and therefore did poorly in school. Her two older brothers tutored her extensively to help her pass the admissions test that allowed her to attend a decent high school. However, she failed her college admissions test– two eight-hour exam days– twice, and had to settle for a second-tier college a year later than her peers.
Since she was female, she was expected to help her mother with all the household chores in addition to attending school and studying, which meant she labored sixteen hours a day starting in middle school. In her male-dominated world, during her teenage years, stress and anger were relieved through abuse heaped upon her by her father, older brothers, grandmother and mother. She in turn rebelliously fought back against her mother and was mean to her younger sister.
There was extreme pressure for both genders to attend prestigious schools but the educational elitism for females merely served the purpose of “marrying well.” After college graduation, the daughters were supposed to enter into marriages arranged by their fathers, and be good wives and mothers. Read the book to learn what has become of the author.
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