Iron Butterfly

Iron Butterfly : Memoir of a Martial Arts Master: The True Story of a Mermaid's Daughter

4.29 (31 ratings by Goodreads)

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Choon-Ok Harmon was born soon after the Korean War, when South Korea was experiencing extreme poverty. This memoir describes the hardships she tried to overcome to achieve a better life. She moves to the U.S. and, through patience and perseverance, pursues her dream of becoming a martial artist.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 408.23g
  • Gretna, LA, United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 1589808908
  • 9781589808904
  • 697,597

Flap copy

As a young girl living on the small South Korean island of Koje Do, Choon-Ok Jade Harmon faced a dismal situation. She was the youngest of seven siblings in a large, destitute family that could not afford food, medical care, or coal for the frigid winters. They expected her to follow in the footsteps of a traditional Korean woman, but Harmon wrote her own destiny. Because of her will to survive and succeed, Harmon is now the highest-ranking woman in the Korean martial art system of Kuk Sool Won, with a Ninth-Degree Black Belt.

Harmon discovered her path to economic independence and self-fulfillment while watching a martial arts class in the South Korean city of Pusan and decided to dedicate her life to training and teaching Kuk Sool Won, despite the opposition from her family and other martial arts masters. The realization that she could only accomplish this dream in the United States-a world where women had options-ignited her fierce determination.

The Iron Butterfly follows Harmon's journey from a mermaid's daughter to the female champion of Kuk Sool Won. This compelling memoir illustrates her triumph over often repressive family traditions and language barriers and provides insight into Korean culture and their "women of the sea."

Choon-Ok Jade Harmon moved to the United States after the Grand Master of Kuk Sool Won arranged her marriage to Barry Harmon. After first living in California, the couple moved to Texas and opened Kuk Sool Won of Clear Lake in Houston. At the 2008 World Kuk Sool Championship, Harmon was promoted to Ninth Dahn. She continues to run the dojang, teach classes in Kuk Sool Won, and spend time with her family.

Ana Marï¿1/2a Rodrï¿1/2guez is a faculty member at the Institute of Children's Literature and a children's science writer. In addition to authoring numerous books for children, she has contributed articles to such publications as YES Mag, KNOW, and SuperScience. Her accolades include a Highlights History Feature of the Year Award and an award from the Society of School Librarians International. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rodrï¿1/2guez earned her Ph.D. from the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research. She resides in Houston, Texas.
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Back cover copy

"Master Choon-Ok Harmon is a wonderful role model and an example of true Korean warriors, who possess inner power, character, perseverance, and a never-give-up attitude! She doesn't dwell on the past, yet she learns from it without complaining. Harmon lives a full and balanced life with her husband and daughters for today and tomorrow-that is the key to success . . . in any culture."
-Grand Master In Hyuk Suh, Kuk Sa Nim, founder, Kuk Sool Won, and president, World Kuk Sool Association

"You will be mesmerized by this chronicle of a young girl who triumphed over the material world of modern times. With no money and no formal education, she dreams big-and no one can stop her! As the highest-ranking woman master in the traditional martial art of Kuk Sool Won, she is the 'Iron Butterfly, ' because she is meek, yet strong-for her inner strength is the key to her no-nonsense approach to life and people. This is a must-read book for young girls who dream big."
-Alex Suh, D.C., master instructor

"A powerful and cathartic memoir, The Iron Butterfly is a beautifully written account of a family barely surviving in Koje Do Island during the post-Korean War years and their journey to America. It is an unforgettable and unique insight into Korean culture, food, and family that will move your soul."
-Helen Tse, author, Sweet Mandarin, finalist for the Portico Prize

"Poignant and often laugh-out-loud funny . . . Choon-Ok's story is proof that 'you can do more than you think you can do!'"
-Marianne Dyson, award-winning writer
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Rating details

31 ratings
4.29 out of 5 stars
5 58% (18)
4 19% (6)
3 16% (5)
2 6% (2)
1 0% (0)
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