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Claire Lee
Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014

Author chronicles mother's remarkable journey

The Korea Herald/ANN | Claire Lee | Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014

Moon Young-me poses for a photo prior to an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday.

In 1961, at age 25, Faye Pinchbeck crossed the Pacific Ocean to be with her beloved, a Korean man 15 years her senior.

The American woman from Connecticut met Stephen Moon (Moon Tong-hwan), well-known pastor and social activist, while studying to be a social worker at Hartford Seminary in the US, where Moon was working on his doctorial thesis in Christian Education as an international student.

After landing in the port of Busan, Faye married Moon in Seoul on a snowy day.

So began a remarkable journey in Korea spanning three decades, where she learned to be a Korean wife - she wore only hanbok her first years here in efforts to fit in.

She worked as a social worker with the US army and local prostitutes living near US military bases. At the same time, she dealt with her husband's social activism and imprisonment under Korea's military government until moving back to the US in the early 1990s.

Now 78, Faye, who returned to Korea with her husband about a year ago, hardly remembers her time spent here.

She's has suffered from Alzheimer's disease for some six years, and sometimes even forgets she's married to the man she's spent her life with.

What she reads every morning, with her husband in her company, is her biography written by her daughter and author Moon Young-me. It is her way to remember what she now does not.

"My mother would tell my father something like, 'Can we get married since we love each other this much?'" said author Moon during an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul.

Moon initially wrote and published the book in Korean in 1999. Butch Durst, an American missionary and family friend who lived in Korea in the 1970s, volunteered to translate the text into English in the early 2000s. Moon and Durst's wife then together worked on the translated text, checking facts and editing.

The English edition of the biography, titled "To Korea with Love," was recently published by Singaporean publisher Stallion Press.

"When I first wrote the book back in 1999, I focused on the issues like local prostitutes and the Korea-US relations," Moon said. "And now I think about it, my mother was one of the first migrant wives in Korea, and this book chronicles her struggles as she tries to adjust to new cultural surroundings. I think the book can be a helpful resource for today's migrant women, as it provides what to expect in Korea when living here (as a wife)."

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