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.