Henry’s career path as a spy is a difficult point of contention between himself and his wife Lelia, who has serious reservations regarding this career choice and its impact on their marriage. Henry, on the other hand, is not willing to part with his current career and strives to achieve continued growth in this role. A job and a career are not always the same concept, and this case is no different. For Lelia, the work of a spy is perhaps considered to be a job, while Henry views this as a career with opportunities for growth and satisfaction that is not receiving in the home environment. Lelia’s insecurities with Henry’s career choice is difficult for her to understand and as a result, she is highly resistant to his decision and its impact on her life.
For Henry, his chosen career path is perhaps one of his most important strengths because it is entirely his own and he does not have to share it with his wife. Therefore, perhaps he takes his career more seriously than other parts of his life because he believes that it is fulfilling, so no matter what his wife believes, he wants to continue down this career path. It is very important to Henry to have a well-established career, given the circumstances of his culture and the importance of supporting the family with a rewarding career. This is one of the most important stories that the book tells, as it demonstrates the importance of one’s career, even in the wake of family roles and responsibilities, personal tragedies, and other factors that influence daily living in different ways.
For Henry, perhaps his career path is a means of escape from the pain that he has suffered in losing his young son. In some ways, this is a selfish point of view because it does not take into account Lelia’s feelings; therefore, she finds it very difficult to accept that Henry is not letting her in to his life in the manner that she prefers. At the same time, Lelia does not necessarily recognize that Henry’s job is a means of escape from his own experiences and that as a spy, he can play a role that takes him far away from his normal routine. This appears to frustrate Lelia, but it engages Henry because there is very little in his life for which he does not face personal demons that he cannot overcome. It is very difficult for Henry and Lelia to communicate regarding his career path because they cannot agree on this matter, which has a negative impact on their marriage.
Henry’s insistence on maintaining his career as a spy is a form of escape that he appears to find fulfilling and refreshing, as he otherwise faces considerable challenges that he finds extremely difficult to overcome. Therefore, he is unable to face the realities of his situation in their entirety, so he uses his career to escape those realities on a daily basis. Lelia’s lack of understanding of his position places further strain upon their marriage, as she does not appear to recognize the extent of Henry’s need to belong to a group for which he believes he is worthy. Working as a spy allows him this sense of belonging and provides him with a greater sense of value and accomplishment.
Henry and Lelia’s life together is further complicated by his chosen career path; therefore, it remains difficult for the couple to find common ground in their marriage. The backdrop of the clash between the Korean and American cultures further complicates matters and distances Henry from his wife in a way that is difficult to overcome without compromise and open discussion.