By Ji-Min Lee
The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-Min Lee – first of all I would like to commend the author for coming out with this book based on a picture taken after the Korean War when Marilyn Monroe came to visit American troops while on honeymoon in Japan with her then husband, Joe DiMaggio. One picture is of Marilyn Monroe and the other was a female interpreter at work standing between a UN soldier and a North Korean POW.
Ae-sun or Alice the name given to her by an American boyfriend, clearly became a spy when she had to identify a communist infiltrator she saw during the evacuation of Koreans. Working as a translator, translating flyers into Koreans, after the war, and for her english speaking skills, she was then assigned with Marilyn Monroe as one of the assistants when the starlet came for a show with American troops.
I would not comment on the grammar and transitions, since these are the easiest areas for improvement. Instead I would comment on the overall story. The main character, Alice is depicted with her relationship with three different lovers at a time where the entire book is centered. Ku-yong is the lover after the war, Joseph during the war, and Min-hwan before the war.
Marilyn Monroe whose billing is half the title, got only a chapter in the book. The backcover says its a portrayal of unexpected kinship between two different women, except for both of them taking in sleeping pills, there was nothing kinship in the story. This was Monroe’s second marriage while Alices’ third relationship. The third guy was introduced in the first few chapters of the book and never came back. This chapter could’ve been deleted since it never had a role or it may be resurrected at the final chapters. Although I did saw how this third guy saved Alice and helped her after the war since it was portrayed that Alice became so sick after the war.