A Daughter’s Tribute

by S.M. Lee

As I drown out the sounds of DT’s inauguration on the radio, I begin thinking of my mom, my hero and inspiration for joining the Women’s March and becoming politically active in the wake of America’s reality show nightmare. She is humble to a fault and would never give herself credit which is another reason to share this. At 15 while working as a candy striper, helping wounded civilians and soldiers during the Korean War, my mom was separated from her family of ten brothers and sisters.

Orphaned and struggling to survive, she somehow managed to put herself through medical school and became an obstetrician. She later opened up a clinic for women’s health in rural South Korean towns where she was badly needed. She provided birth control (when they became available), abortions, sex education, even assisting with adoption for many unwanted pregnancies. Never turning away patients regardless of their ability to pay. Knowing that Planned Parenthood is in jeopardy here, my respect and pride for her has only grown. Along the way, she endured and overcame personal trauma, misogyny, constant resistance and struggle in an overwhelmingly male dominated culture. “Nevertheless, she persisted”, and unknowingly became an early feminist in ’50s Korea.

Men in her life attempted to undermine and control her future or claimed all the credit and frivolously spent all her money. She was a contradiction of female strength and naivety and still overcame tremendous odds, helped countless women and children, without ever getting the honor she deserved. She’s beyond retirement age but still practices medicine in Korea. Here’s to you, Mom. I hope to instill the courage, love and inspiration you’ve given me, onto your granddaughters ❤.


About the Author
S. M. Lee was born in Seoul Korea, the youngest of 3 girls. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was 2. Her mother moved back to Korea to continue her work as an obstetrician 10 years later. What began as a temporary situation became a permanent separation from her mother and this was extremely difficult for her and the entire family. As an adult, S.M. came to understand the reasons behind her mother’s life choices and is in awe of her accomplishments. They currently have a wonderful relationship and visit each other every few years. S.M. now works in the creative industry and lives in Southern California with her 2 beautiful young daughters.