The Iron Butterfly (Hardcover)

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

By Choon-Ok Harmon, Ana Maria Rodriguez

Pelican Publishing Company, 9781589808904, 224pp.

Publication Date: February 8, 2011

List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


"A powerful and cathartic memoir" -Helen Tse, author, Sweet Mandarin, a finalist for the Portico Prize

While growing up in a rural fishing village following the Korean War, Choon-Ok Jade Harmon discovered how to fight for survival at an early age. She was the youngest of seven children, and her destitute family faced constant hunger, bitterly cold winters, and an often-abusive father. Despite these obstacles, and her learning disability of dyslexia, she sought the courage to break free from poverty and succeed in the martial arts form of Kuk Sool Won.

Today, Harmon is the highest-ranking woman in Kuk Sool Won, a traditionally masculine sport, with a ninth-degree black belt. Beginning with Harmon's difficult youth in Koje-do, this compelling biography recalls her arduous path to self-fulfillment and financial independence, documenting Harmon's dedication to Kuk Sool Won, her move to America, and her marriage to a fellow martial artist. The chapters on Harmon's childhood provide insight into Korean culture and their "women of the sea." Her feelings of resolute determination resonate from each page.