Marilyn and Me by Korean author and screenwriter Ji-Min Lee; is a novel about Marilyn Monroe’s coming to Korea right after the Korean War. However, it was a little surprising to see that Marilyn Monroe was only a side character. The book’s name is Marilyn and Me therefore I was expecting to read a little bit more about her.

Marilyn and Me - Ji-Min Lee

Marilyn and Me recounts the four days after the Korean War in 1954. Monroe takes a break from her honeymoon in Japan with his new husband, Jo Dimaggio. She goes to Korea to give American soldiers a series of concerts. Alice (her real name is Kim Ae-sun), who works at the American base, is assigned as the interpreter of Monroe. It was a joy to read that these two women, who have very different lives yet had an extraordinary friendship in extraordinary circumstances. However, the main subject of the book is what happened in Korea during and after the Korean War and of course, what the war did to all those people. I would recommend it if you are particularly interested in the Korean War.

About the book: Marilyn and Me

How do you translate the present, when you can’t let go of the past?

It is the winter of 1954 and in the rubble-strewn aftermath of the Korean war Marilyn Monroe has come to Seoul to perform to the US soldiers stationed there. Incongruous in her silk dress and flawless makeup, she sings of seduction and love, dazzling battle-scarred Americans and Koreans alike.

Alice, the woman chosen to be Marilyn’s translator, was once Kim Ae-sun. With her prematurely grey hair, her fraying lace gloves and the memories that will engulf her if she lets them, Alice works as a typist for the US military. It is a job that has enabled her to survive, and to forget. 

As they travel across the country, over the four days of Marilyn’s tour, the two women begin to form an unlikely friendship. But when Alice becomes embroiled in a sting operation involving the entrapment of a Communist spy she is forced to confront the past she has been trying so hard to escape.

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About the author: Ji-Min Lee

Ji-min Lee is a celebrated screenwriter in Korea and author of several novels.

– First Sentence – 

Marilyn and Me - Ji-Min Lee
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Reading Challenge 2019 – The Year of Women Writers

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