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.

Hae Min Lee

Like millions of other listeners, I have become deeply entrenched in Serial, an episodic treatment of the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999.

The podcasts are mostly riveting and leave the listener grasping for answers.

But some things demand to be confronted emotionally, not just in the clinical language of forensics, but in the enduring vortex of loss and grief.

I have hunted for archival traces Hae Min Lee–glimpses of the girl from before her life taken and then reduced to jurisprudential conjecture.

Who was Hae Min Lee to those who loved her? A picture, a memorial–something. I found this– a piece on her memorial.

She played lacrosse…

left a grieving family…

…a family whose grief is indicated mostly by their present silence. Surely they would be appalled by the surgical reduction of this vivid girl to…a piece of evidence not properly disposed of.

I keep returning to the snowstorm; days her family must have spent hoping and praying for her safe return.

When she could not.

Would not.


Because she had been rendered helpless, cold, and alone in the shallow grave, in the silence of falling snow.

It seems to me American justice requires a return to that quiet wood and all the things that were stolen from Hae Min Lee.

Perhaps we are all too accustomed to our fictional procedurals to realize that real crime leaves empty places in the heart and a grief that never lifts or relents.