Yungman Kwak and his wife Young-ae came to the United States after the Korean War. They settled in Minnesota in a small town with a hospital so desperate for doctors that they hired the young obstetrician without him having a green card. The small hospital, lacking funds, is now forced to close and Yungman, who became a citizen, is forced into retirement. Their grown son Einstein, a Harvard-educated doctor, does not share the simple values of his father and has chosen a flashy lifestyle. Einstein encourages his father to join one of his company’s boutique-like medical locations in the Mall of America, a concept they call “Retailicine.” Told in five sections, this riveting book flashes back to Yungman’s life in Korea before, during and after the war. His early years are nostalgic as well as heartbreaking. As memories of his past become overwhelming, Yungman decides to reconcile with unfulfilled promises made long ago.
Author Marie Myung-Ok Lee has written a very emotional book about a man who has lived two lives – one in Korea, one in the United States. He tried to keep the two separate but it eventually became impossible. The Evening Hero (which is the translation of Yungman’s name) gives an unvarnished look at the impact of the Korean War. It is also takes a satirical look at America’s healthcare system. It is an immigrant story worth reading.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this beautifully written and eye-opening book in advance of its release.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Contemporary and Historical Fiction.
Publication Date: May 24, 2022.