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Ten Thousand Sorrows [Paperback]

Elizabeth Kim
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

1 July 2002

I don't know how old I was when I watched my mother's murder, nor do I know how old I am today.'

The illegitimate daughter of a peasant and an American GI, Elizabeth Kim spent her early years as a social outcast in her village in the Korean countryside. Ostracized by their family and neighbours, she and her mother were regularly pelted with stones on their way home from the rice fields. Yet there was a tranquil happiness in the intense bond between mother and daughter. Until the day that Elizabeth's grandfather and uncle came to punish her mother from the dishonour she had brought on the family, and executed her in front of her daughter.

Elizabeth was dumped in an orphanage in Seoul. After some time, she was lucky enough to be adopted by an American couple. But when she arrived in America she found herself once again surrounded by fanaticism and prejudice.

Elizabeth's mother had always told her that life was made up of ten thousand joys as well as ten thousand sorrows, and, supported by her loving daughter, and by a return to her Buddhist faith, she finally found a way to savour those joys, as well as the courage to exorcise the demons of her past.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; New Ed edition (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553812645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553812640
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

"I don't know how old I was when I watched my mother's murder, nor do I know how old I am today." So begins the incredible true story of Elizabeth Kim, born to a poor Korean woman in the 1950s after her affair with an American GI who promptly dumped her. Elizabeth's mother was condemned to a pariah existence on the edge of the village, virtually ignored and left to bring up her illegitimate daughter single-handedly. Elizabeth herself was spat at as a 'honhyol'--mixed-race, a non-person, an animal (anyone who thinks that racism is purely a Western disease should read this book). One day, two male relatives came to the hut, killed her mother, and subjected her hated child to a form of torture unimaginable in its barbarism. Elizabeth was sent to a Seoul orphanage where she was kept in a virtual cage, then--worst of all, psychologically--she was adopted by an American Christian fundamentalist couple and taken away to the mid-West dustbowl to be hammered into an all-American Girl. Although this may sound like no more than a catalogue of horrors, it is much more: a story of resilience, survival, and hope, and most importantly of all, of the rediscovery of love and trust when those values seemed quite extinguished. Elizabeth also found her true mother's religion of Buddhism and you can learn more about that creed from this book than from any number of glib Western DIY guides. This is Buddhism felt on the pulse and in the marrow. --Christopher Hart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"It is astonishing that Kim has survived...All one wants for this exceptional woman is that she be granted ten thousand joys to expunge all the sorrows that have been her life's companion." (THE TIMES)

"Elizabeth Kim's remarkable life is tragic...More harrowing than any novel." (ARTHUR GOLDEN, author of Memoirs of a Geisha)

"A magnificent tribute to the power of forgiveness." (DAVE PELZAR, author A Child Called ‘It’)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down.. 15 July 2002
I found the book to be both moving and shocking. A story of a women's life told up to the present day. The terrors and tragedies she has seen and endured in her native land, Korea, and her adopted land American. As a small child watching her mother being killed in her home, then being tortured and almost killed herself. Placed in an orphanage come prison, until she was finally adopted and sent to American where there she suffered emotional torture. I shed tears during some of this book, but at the same time it made me feel that in my own life I have been very lucky. A fabulously written book. I read it in 1.5 days.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Humbling Tale 4 Sep 2002
By A Customer
I found this book very humbling, as I could never associate my childhood with that of Elizabeth's as it was so dreadful. I have a habit of choosing books with similar stories such as Dave Pelzer's books and Adeline Yen Mah, but this one was harrowing as the author's experiences went on during her adult life too.
People have ridiculed the book for the author moaning about her Christian upbringing, but I find that this is not how a child should be brought up and Elizabeth proves this. As this child had her own beliefs in Buddism and was not allowed to project these, but who had a obligation to her foster parents to convey a religion which was not her own.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is feeling sorry for themselves, as it will make you think of how lucky you are to have your family around you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Several times I had to pause and wonder about the authenticity of some aspects of this account. However, I swallowed my cynicism and realised what a marvellous achievement this book is. I should quibble about details when this woman's childhood was plunged into disaster and no-one was ever able to tell her how old she was or at what age she was orphaned! The wisdom she achieved was awe-inspiring and her words touched me deeply. I hope she finds the peace and contentment that she so richly deserves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, compelling 17 May 2001
I am usually a reader of 'nice' fiction about village life etc; But as soon as this book arrived at our office I couldn't put it down. I was atounded by the wonderful and yet such a moving account of one womens life to date. It was written without emotion and matter of fact. How could anyone could accept the life she (Elizabeth Kim) did, and yet she seemed punish herself for other peoples actions. I would love to meet the woman, and let her know how much I admire her. We are so lucky.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Ten Thousand Sorrows is not a fiction; it is reality as some people may not accept. As Elizabeth Kim put it, people in the world have different customs and beliefs that may not seem rational or 'normal' for others, but the fact is, they exist. Obedience, for one, is an Asian quality that most Westerners would not appreciate nor understand. But if you examine the culture and the history of these people, you will value, if not admire such character. This book is as real as a story can be told. I am sure, Omma is happy to know that her sacrifice was not in vain. I am bowing to Kim's work of expression and to her continuing effort to achieve true peace and happiness!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read this just after reading the Dave Pelzer trilogy, and whilst I found them astonishing and equally unbelievable this strikes you on a different level. The single fact that made me read this and doesn't ever leave you once you have read it is that as a little girl Elizabeth Kim watched her mother murdered for the sake of honour and couldn't do a single thing about it. That alone is more than any one person should ever have to bare, but then when she thought her saviours had come in the shape of an American couple, the horrors only continue. Utterly heart breaking...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How lucky we are... 23 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I am almost finished reading this book after receiving it yesterday for my 15th birthday from a grandparent. I have not been able to put it down since finishing "Hannibal" by Thomas Harris last night. I like reading a variety of different types of novel and this book fits in with my love of books from the survivors of the Holocaust. It is a really heartfelt story and she [Elizabeth Kim] is a very strong person to live through the traumas and raise her own child. It makes you think about how lucky we are as readers and not experiencers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truely Enlightening Read 29 Aug 2000
When I read books like Elizabeth's it reminds me of just how lucky a hell of a lot of people are and how abysmally people like Elizabeth are treated. It is sometimes too easy to forget that not everybody has a good life. It certainly forces you to take stock of your own situation and what you consider to be unfair and cruel in life.
A beautifully and couragously written account of her life. My only question is: "How have you forgiven so many people Elizabeth?"
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Heart felt book, a simple and easy read. Unbelievable what some people have to live through and still stay strong, gives me hope x
Published 4 months ago by Brenda Catchpole
3.0 out of 5 stars A sorry tale
I found this authors first book quite harrowing at times with her descriptions of the treatment received from various places in her life. Read more
Published 11 months ago by MightyMouse
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving
Hard to put down, this book is pouring with emotion, I loved it. Everyone should read Elizabeth's story, it makes you realise that your life is not so bad at all and how strong... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Anneliese Cheadle
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, simple story
A well written story that captures your imagination from beginning to end. From the outset you care about the main character.
Published 13 months ago by Janice
5.0 out of 5 stars Cried
I love this book. Heart rending and shows how some people in the world are just meant to be here (what goes around comes around) hopefully.
Published 14 months ago by janice young
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written memoir (for a change)
The 'awful childhood' memoir is a growing and lucrative genre. Sadly most examples are not well written - first this happened, then that, etc etc. Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2012 by John Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing!
although, this review is on behalf of my mother... As she is actual buyer; i have also read this book, and it is Quite amazing!! Read more
Published on 12 Mar 2011 by Simon Andrew Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Thousand Sorrows
I have never read a book that has tugged at my heartstrings like this one. I had to put it down many, many times just to digest her story and very often found myself crying... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by Elayne
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt!
The begining was a bit slow as I had found it hard to grasp the story.
Sad but a good ending story of a little korean girl who was born out of wedlock,out of spite I would... Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2007 by CK
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont Miss It
I bought this book in a Bargain Bin for 2.00 Euro. It was the best money I have ever spent on a book. Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2003
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