Maija Rhee Devine

Maija’s interview by Armando F. Sanchez, 11/21/2020

Description of the interview: Maija Rhee Devine loved literature and earned a Master’s in English. But she resisted for 25 years her husband’s encouragement to write about her life, a story that starts with her as an infant being given away by her biological family while they kept her twin brother. Once she began writing, The Voices of Heaven and her poetry book Long Walks on Short Days were published. She discusses the culture and history of South Korea that shaped her writing–the effects of patriarchy in all aspects of Korean life, gender and population imbalance issues, the impact of the Korean War, and the future of South and North Korea relations. She also talks about her works-in-progress on Comfort Women of WWII, all stories of the past keeping powerful rein on the present and future.

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

2nd Zoom reading of poems in “The Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America”

Zoom reading: COVID anthology, When the Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America, editor, Thelma T. Reyna (Golden Foothills Press, CA). Lake Como poets’ group zoom reading, hosted by Armando Sanchez, 10/18/2020, Sunday, 2pm PST. Now on youtube, 10/24/2020:


My portion of the Zoom reading: (1) intro of me by the editor, Thelma T. Reyna: 22:40

(2) my reading of 2 poems: 27:50-18:04

(3) my concluding remark: 43:29

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

Essay, “The Korean War and Chocolate Candies”

DoveTales, A Writing for Peace Literary Journal of the Arts, Issue III, August 1, 2020, RESISTANCE, guest editor, Brad Wetzler.  

Maija’s nonfiction, “The Korean War and Chocolate Candies,”

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

Poem, “Death by Sex, Death by Corona, published in DoveTales

 DoveTales, A Writing for Peace Literary Journal of the Arts, Issue III, RESISTANCE, Aug. 1, 2020, , guest editor, Brad Wetzler.


Death By Sex, Death By Corona                   Maija Rhee Devine

We survived, haven’t we, the forced sex pandemic
sex at gun points 70 times a week, the lowest
number among so many scholars’ ways of counting.                                                Whores*!
238 of us, tears of shame, told our stories
six, now housemates in House of Sharing,
bit our lips to pulp when these happened:

K, “comfort woman” at 15, in two years, 7,280 sex acts
L, at 15, three years, 10,920 times
P, at 17, four years, 14,560 times
C, at 27, two years, 7,280 times                                                                               Lying bitches*!
H, at 13, two years, 7,280 times
L, at 12, three years, 10,920 times

At 90 through 104 now, who could’ve imagined
our faces turning blue again, this time, killing micro-machines
death dust blowing into our lungs any moment, deadlier                                       Kill yourselves*!
than guns, more sure-handed than our own hands
that tried to tear open our necks people now call
mooshoi mokseum, “iron necks.”

*The voices of Japanese conservatives slung at Korean ‘comfort women’ visiting Japan on their trips to present testimonies of their lives as ‘comfort women’ of WWII. Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military, Seoul, Korea

A painting by former Korean comfort woman Kim Wha-Sun who passed away in 2012.

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

Poem “Comfort Women of WWII” Published in Pleiades

Maija’s poem “Comfort Women of WWII” was published in Pleiades (the literary journal of Central Missouri State University), summer 2020, and was a featured poem of the week , September, 2020:

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

SeattleN (in Korean) Reports on Maija’s Poems Published in Pandemic Anthology

Maija’s 3 poems were published in an anthology, When the Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America (Golden Foothills Press, CA, 2020). 11 of the 46 writers are poets laureate, including Richard Blanco, the US presidential poet laureate at Obama’s 2nd inauguration.

COVID anthology available at:

(1) Golden Foothills Press

(2) Amazon

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

SeattleN(in Korean)Reports on Maija’s Centennial of Women’s Suffrage

(In Korean) The SeattleN news, as well as CBS, carried news about Maija’s 1-minute video story of the first woman voter in her family and other 1-minute video stories by 99 American women, including 4 former First Ladies (Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, Rosalyn Carter, and Laura Bush).

Posted on: November 28th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

Maija’s 1-minute video/Centennial of Women’s Suffrage

8/26/2020: Celebrating the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage, 100 1-minute video stories were posted on a website established by Washington Post in cooperation with 4 former First Ladies, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rosalynn Carter:
My video/story is at: (

Other videos include:

Laura Bush: 

Rosalynn Carter: 

Hillary Clinton: 

Michelle Obama: 

Madeleine Albright: 

Condoleezza Rice:   

First Daughters: Lynda Bird Johnson Robb: 

Lucie Baines Johnson:   

Tricia Nixon Cox: 

Rev. Bernice A. King/Coretta Scott King: 

Roslyn Brock, Chairman, the NAACP National Board:  

Categories include: First Ladies (4); First Daughters (3); Business and Community Leaders (17); Allies and Advocates (12); Public Service (19); Journalists (30); Education and the Arts (23); Roslyn Brock (Chairman, the NAACP National Board); and Rev. Bernice A. King/Coretta Scott King. 

The SeattleN news (that is published in Korean), as well as CBS, carried news about this.

Posted on: September 15th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum (ALPLM) Interviews of Maija Rhee Devine: an excerpt posted 8/2020

Mark DePue, military historian and director of Oral History Program at the ALPLM, posted a condensed version of Maija’s 10-plus hours of interviews conducted several years ago, which have been transcribed and archived on the Museum’s website (, into an “Oral History Spotlight” in August, 2020, and posted it on the Museum’s Facebook. The link is: (It includes 10 audio clips.) Here’s the beginning story. The interviews include Maija’s stories as a child survivor of the Korean War, her post-war experiences through the secondary school and college years in Korea, her later immigrant life in America and her career as a writer. Illinois men and women dedicated their lives to the defense of democracy for South Korea by fighting during the Korean War and their stories are important part of the Oral History Project of the ALPLM. Maija feels honored to have been one of the interviewees and that her stories are preserved in the distinguished ALPLM. Deep gratitude goes to Mark DePue and outstanding staff.

E-news from the ALPLM (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum), Springfield, IL       ALPLM ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
A Childhood Surrounded by War   To say Maija Devine’s childhood was defined by war would be an understatement. She was born in Manchuria during World War II to Korean refugees fleeing a brutal occupation of their homeland by the Japanese.  Maija was soon given up for adoption and eventually returned to Korean, only to see her life upended yet again when North Korea invaded the south in 1950 and occupied Seoul where Maija’s family lived.  >>>>>Learn More about Maija’s life story, in her own words – a story also told in her award-winning novel The Voices of Heaven.     Maija Devine was born in 1943 as her parents fled Japanese-occupied Korea.   Maija met a young American Peace Corps volunteer named Michael Devine in 1970 and the two were soon married.   Maija wrote an award-winning novel based on her life: The Voices of Heaven. 
Posted on: September 13th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

Op-Ed: How surviving Korean ‘comfort women’ cope with COVID-19 crisis, by Maija Rhee Devine

This was published 6/23/2020 in The Korea Times, Seoul, Korea.


former Korean ‘Comfort Woman’ Kim Wha-Sun passed away but left great paintings about her life as a comfort woman.
Comfort Woman Kim’s painting on display at the House of Sharing, a residential complex managed by the Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military
Also by former comfort woman Kim Wha-Sun on display at the Museum.

Posted on: July 11th, 2020 by Maija Rhee Devine

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