In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the December 2022–January 2023 topic challenge.

Based on the number of votes (+6, -2), our 63rd topic challenge will be

the works of Min Jin Lee

After Korean folklore and Ko Un, which were about Korean literature, this new topic challenge is about the works of a Korean American author who writes in English, not Korean.

What's a topic challenge?

See the meta posts linked above, and also this main Meta post. In short, during December 2022 and January 2023 you are invited to try to get hold of one of the works of Min Jin Lee and ask questions about it, and to answer such questions.

Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during December 2022 and January 2023 too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.

How can I take part?

By getting hold of one or more works based by Min Jin Lee and asking good questions about it (or them) or by answering questions that have been posted as part of this challenge. Questions about these works should be tagged with the author's name and the work's title (assuming it is a book-length publication). We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.

Below is North Læraðr's presentation:

Min Jin Lee is a Korean-American author who typically writes about Korean-American topics. She was born in Seoul, South Korea, but emigrated to the U.S. when she was seven. Many of her works explore what it means for one to be "Korean".

  • Pachinko is her second and most famous full-length novel.

"Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan, The character-driven tale features a large ensemble of characters who become subjected to issues of racism and stereotypes, among other events with historical origins in the 20th-century Korean experiences with Japan." -Wikipedia

I haven't finished reading Pachinko, but from what I've read so far, it's an exceptional book. It deals with the prejudice Koreans faced during World War II and the Japanese occupation of Korea, but also the reverse prejudice of Koreans and their attitude towards their captors. It brings to light a tragic part of modern history which I think many European and Americans may not even be aware of.

  • Free Food for Millionaires is her first full length novel.

"Casey Han’s parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. Free Food for Millionaires offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves and examines maintaining one’s identity within changing communities." -Synopsis

A forty-page excerpt is found here.

She also has some other short-story works which can be found online.

  • Axis of Happiness
  • Motherland. Pachinko has a slightly modified version of this story in it. (As an aside, I don't know if that link has the entire work. I think it does.)

You can find several interviews with and talks by Min Jin Lee on YouTube.

Update: The WRITINGS page on Min Jin Lee's website contains links to several of her publications that are available online.

What's next?

1 Answer 1


List of all questions posted in this topic challenge

  1. In Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, why is the old woman's death suspicious? by Clara Diaz Sanchez, 29.01.2023 (5 votes; 101 views by 4 March; no answer).

The highest-voted of these is In Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, why is the old woman's death suspicious?, with a score of 5 at the end of January.

The most viewed is In Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, why is the old woman's death suspicious?, with approximately 101 views during the months of December and January (and February).

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