Thank you for talking to The Intercept. You have a right to tell your story.

I wish I could say this to you directly–to say you are believed and that you did the right thing testifying and that I am sorry that your life has been put on display.

I feel bad for you and all the other students who knew Hae. You all were changed by Hae Min Lee’s murder.

And whatever else happened, you deserve to be believed.

The Korean American Women Left Out In the Cold By Serial

Sarah Koenig has done many things well in Serial. But she has a big tell which betrays a serious and inexcusable bias.

She constantly refers to this story of the murder of a vibrant young Korean American honors student as “Adnan’s case.”

This has never really been Adnan’s case.

This is Hae Min Lee’s case.

By focusing on Adnan, not Hae, Serial has willfully ignored some big unanswered questions.

1. Hae’s car

If Ronald Lee Moore was a burglar (rapist and murderer) wouldn’t he have stolen the car?!

(…and how did Jay know where the car was?)

The accident in December is more important than Sarah makes out. It gives Adnan a template for what happens on January 13th.

2. Hae’s culture

This is the area of reportage most visibly and cavernously neglected by Serial.

In order to understand how Hae was murdered and by whom you have to examine who she trusted and who she would not have trusted and why.

She would not under any circumstances have given a ride to a stranger. Which meant that her body would have had signs of Moore’s typical blunt-force assault, rape, and trauma if he had been involved. He would have had to subdue her against her will in public, in daylight.

Hae, and Hyang Suk were both from a culture and a community with a strong inculcated sense of xenophobia. Neither would have allowed a strange man in their car or house willingly.

Which means that in the timeline of the last known day of Hae Min Lee’s life you have to ask who would have had the ability to convince Hae to let him (or her or them) in? Who would she have allowed in her car on the way to picking up her young cousin?

Ronald? No way.

Jay? Maybe…but highly unlikely.

Adnan? Almost certainly.

There is a heartbreaking news clip from the time of the murder trial. Hae’s mother speaks in Korean as Hae’s brother translates.

She refers to the alleged murderer as Hae’s “friend.”

Not boyfriend.

Not lover.

The fact and force of her daughter’s murder devastated Hae’s mother. Yet even in that devastation she resorts to the word “friend” when describing her daughter’s alleged killer.

The fact of her daughter’s sexual contact with Adnan would have been terribly painful to acknowledge…because honor matters to Koreans. It is intimately layered into their language and culture.

It stays layered into their culture long after they have emigrated, long after the line one might draw between “Korean” and “Korean American.”

Hae Min Lee was a Korean American. Hae Min Lee was an American woman.

But she has yet to receive justice or anything like it from other American women who doggedly refuse to see her as a person, a sister, daughter, or friend who deserved both protecting from the law and a voice.

Serial may have done many things well, but in its haste to defend Adnan, it has left non-white, non-privileged women to fend for themselves once again.

I keep thinking about the phrase–a jury of your peers.

Did Adnan receive justice from a jury of his peers? Maybe, maybe not.

Did Hae, or Hyang Suk?

Absolutely not.

…they never had a chance.

A Letter to the Guilty

I was struck by a stranger’s assertion–a totally innocent person.

There are no totally innocent people. No one is that good. We ride our bicycles in the darkness without a light, go places and do things we simply should not. Not go. Not be. Not do.

It seems to me that putting two teenagers on display for a gruesome, heartless murder is a little like putting them into an ancient coliseum, only our lions are as digital as our judgement.

We say none of the things we should say. We are afraid of the truth. Simple, awful truth.

Truth: a young girl’s sexual partner can harm her. Irrevocably harm her.

Truth: there are great, tragic gaps in the story of Hae Min’s murder that should have been filled by adults–mentoring, listening, intervening, protecting.

People can be dangerous, prone to violence and heartbreak.


All our empty words cannot bring back the dead.

It is difficult for me to believe that Jay fabricated his story whole cloth. It makes more sense that he found himself trapped inside a story of violence and death and told parts of a terrible truth.

But “part of the truth” is not enough for any of us to survive. What we all need is naked truth, but naked truth is excoriating–tearing families, communities, faith, and assumptions.

Naked truth requires a Savior–

Our single and only Totally Innocent Man.

He died surrounded by the guilty

He died to pay for the last choking lonely terrible life of a girl who fell into the hands of violence.

He died for us, the broken.

Not just for the terrible secrets of two boys involved in a crime. But all of us as well.

All cries for justice and truth lead inexorably to the Cross…

Speaking Up for the Lee Women

Hae Min Lee’s mother spoke so eloquently in court that no further comment is necessary.

Every last soul with hands in the air lamenting the injustice of Adnan
Syed’s trial(s) should have her statement memorized…in the original Korean.


Because any sort of temporal acknowledgement of the merciless nature of grief does nothing to assuage that grief.

So you are obsessed with Serial? So you are already wondering how you will face life if they take a hiatus?

There is no hiatus for Hae’s mother. Her life is a daily, hourly, quotidian sweep of pain. Fifteen years will not have dulled that pain because her daughter will not be brought back.

What right do we have to approach that kind of pain with speculation and theories?

As though this real tragedy were a scripted drama.

It may truly be unconscionable to find diversion in the unending tragedy of murder if that contemplation objectifies both the victim and her family.

Her family as in–a murdered girl-child still does not afford the legal status as a male murder suspect.

Her family as in–the Korean American community is thriving and active in Baltimore but Sarah Koenig could not find a single voice to represent their loss.

Not even Hae’s own voice. Sarah has conspicuously neglected Hae’s own voice.

A voice silenced, choked out: unrequited.

I have not heard a word to suggest that was ever about restoring justice to the victim at the heart of this story.

Playing the Devil’s Advocate

It is important to walk a mile in a person’s shoes. In some cases, perhaps most, the last mile is the hardest.

So you do. Because if you think your personal bias plus a handful of hours is enough, you have not thought about the…

Debilitating disease (she died from)

Her reputation as a bulldog defense lawyer.

Attorney client privilege.

I don’t expect Sarah to cover this, but I do expect it of us–armchair detectives all–

What would you do if he had told you he had killed that “b….” in cold blood?

What would you do if you knew he had planned it? Shaped it. Drawn in his accomplice?

Smoked weed after it was done?

Would you have put him on the stand? Would you have pushed for a plea bargain? Produced an alibi witness to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the jurors?

Perhaps. Perhaps if you were the lawyer he told his privileged truth to…you would have…

Would ya?

Perhaps, just perhaps both his attorney and his ex-girlfriend took the same dreadful truth to their graves, one shallow, one deep.

Who killed Hae Min Lee. Who?