Mary Paik Lee left her native country in 1905, traveling with her parents as a political refugee after Japan imposed control over Korea. Her father worked in the sugar plantations of Hawaii briefly before taking his family to California. They shared the poverty-stricken existence endured by thousands of Asian immigrants in the early twentieth century, working as farm laborers, cooks, janitors, and miners. Lee recounts racism on the playground and the ravages of mercury mining on her father’s health, but also entrepreneurial successes and hardships surmounted with grace.
With a new foreword by David K. Yoo, this edition reintroduces Quiet Odyssey to readers interested in Asian American history and immigration studies. The volume includes thirty illustrations and a comprehensive introduction and bibliographic essay by respected scholar Sucheng Chan, who collaborated closely with Lee to edit the biography and ensure the work was true to the author’s intended vision. This award-winning book provides a compelling firsthand account of early Korean American history and continues to be an essential work in Asian American studies.