Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Mary Kim Bilek
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Mary Kim Bilek was born June 13, 1938, in Seoul, Korea. Her mother was a teacher, and her father worked for a newspaper. During the Korean War (1950-1953) the family had to leave Seoul and with tens of thousands of other Korean civilians fled to the island of Cheju, a small island off the southern tip of Korea. During the years they were refugees on Cheju, Mary's mother and grandmother both died. In 1954 the family returned to Seoul, and at age fifteen Mary attended school regularly for the first time. Although her education had been disrupted, her two older brothers had also fallen behind, and all three children graduated from high school in the same year. As the only girl, Mary assumed she would not be sent to college and decided to try to go the United States to continue her education. Before the Korean War she had corresponded with a pen pal in North Carolina with the help of an American missionary in Korea. After the war she wrote to the pen pal again, and the American's family was able to arrange a scholarship for her at a small liberal arts college in North Carolina. She graduated with a major in physics and then entered the University of Minnesota for graduate study in mathematics. She completed her graduate work in 1963 and married a college friend, Larry Bilek, a Minnesotan, the same year. She worked as supervisor of statistics for medical services at the University of Minnesota Medical School until her first child was born in 1968. She then became part-time senior research analyst for the Minnesota Department of Health and was also employed in research in the medical school's department of neurology until her second child was born. In 1975 she was employed by the university's College of Liberal Arts as head of data services, and since then has become the college's budget and planning officer. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Mary Bilek discusses her family background in Korea; experiences during the Korean War; her first impressions of the United States; college life; concern for her children growing up in an affluent society; marriage to an American; and differences in childrearing practices in Korean and American cultures. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Mary Bilek represents Koreans who have become well-acculturated to American society, and is apparently equally comfortable with Americans and Koreans. Nevertheless she is committed to teaching her children certain Korean values that she considers important.
Quantity 3 hours sound cassette
46 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:31:44 running time
Creation Interviewee: Bilek, Mary Kim
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asian Americans -- Minnesota
Korean Americans -- Minnesota.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 03/02/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.19
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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