Writing for Peace adviser Maija Rhee Devine‘s childhood in Korea cultivated the passion that drives her writing and activism today. Through her novel, essays and poetry, she explores the cultural pressure that she believes leads to the exploitation of women and preference of male babies. Additionally, Maija translates the stories of Korean comfort women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
In her autobiographical novel, The Voices of Heaven, Maija describes the extreme measures her father took in order to produce a male heir, and the emotional toll it took upon her family. She remembers bearing the burden of responsibility for her mother’s pain, because she had not been born a male child.
While Maija acknowledges the great technological and economic strides that South Korea has made since the Korean War, she is keenly aware of the tragic implications for women when the Confucian-based preference for male heirs meets modern medical advancements. To hear Maija’s recent TEDx Sinchon speech in Seoul on this subject, go to: TEDxSinchon
“In 1994 alone, in S. Korea, 30,000 female fetuses were aborted solely for son preference. If they lived, the girls would have turned 20 this year. 2014, because it is a year of the Chinese zodiac sign Horse and believed by some Asians to be an unlucky year for girls to be born, may result in even larger numbers of female fetuses being at risk in S. Korea, India, China, and other regions. Over three decades, S. Koreans aborted an estimated half a million female pre-borns.”
~Maija Rhee Devine
Following, is a powerful example of how one Writing for Peace Adviser uses her poetry (in this case, a cinquain) as a form of activism for a cause she cares deeply about.
Goodbye, My Home, My Igloo
In Mommy, my
Igloo. She wants son, son.
Daughter, bye bye. Mommy, no, no!
Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . y-e-s
The Voices of Heaven, a novel/love story about family struggles set during the Korean War, flows from first-hand experience of growing up in Seoul during the war and its aftermath. The story reveals the realities of both the old and new Korea as the Confucian values that rule the characters still shape the lives of people in North and South Korea. The novel is available from Seoul Selection Publishing (www.seoulselection.com) and Amazon.com.
Writing for Peace Adviser Maija Rhee Devine is the author of The Voices of Heaven, a powerful love story set during the Korean War. The novel was recognized as a finalist in the “USA Best Book Awards.” To learn more about Maija Rhee Devine’s work, go to her Writing for Peace Adviser bio page here.
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2014 Young Writers Contest
The Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest is closed. Winner announcements will be made on May 1st, 2014. Submission Guidelines for our 2015 Young Writers Contest will go live on September 1st, 2014.
Writing for Peace Reading and Workshop
With Poet Sam Hamill
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