As for Casey’s surname, I have been told that there is only one Han family line whereas there may be many branches of Kim, Lee or Cho. For example, my father who is from the North tells me that our surname is not a Korean Lee, but rather a Chinese Lee—descending from a Manchurian warrior who settled in the northern part of Korea several hundred years back. So, I may in very small measure be ethnically Chinese but largely Korean. The word han can be loosely translated as a uniquely Korean sentiment of lament—an inexpressible anguish or suffering of a people from a nation that has been divided and whose national history bears humiliation and loss. The meaning of han is attributed by some to be a national cultural trait reflecting historical oppression and isolation. That a young woman growing up in America with such enormous freedom and advantages could somehow carry with her this unconscious sense of historical suffering was something I considered throughout the writing of this book.
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