Looking back at the fateful car crash that left her body marred and completely changed her life, Lee Ji-seon said she is still thankful for her life.
Lee, the author of best-selling essay “Ji-seon-A Saranghae (Ji-seon, I Love You),” appeared on SBS talk show “Healing Camp” to share how she coped with a horrid traffic accident that burned over 55 percent of her body.
“That is when I learned to be grateful for one thing each day. I was thankful for still being able to pick up a spoon, for being able to button my shirt, for having an ability to climb a flight of stairs,” the 35-year-old writer said. “Finding things to be thankful for has became a habit for me.”
On July 30 2000, Lee -- then-student at Ewha Womans University -- left the school library and headed home in her brother Lee Jeong-geun’s car. Moments later, the siblings were engulfed by a seven-way traffic accident initiated by a drunken driver.
Her brother managed to pull Lee out of the burning vehicle, but not before her face, hands, and other parts of her body had sustained third degree burns. The life-threatening injuries forced her to undergo more than 40 surgeries, and partial amputation of eight fingers.
“My brother struggled after saving me,” Lee said. “He attempted to comfort me, but I told him ‘How am I supposed to live like this.’ Since then, he had blamed himself.”
Jeong-geun, also on the show, said that he had wondered if he did the right thing by saving his sister, but he does not have any doubt about his action.
After clawing her way back from the verge of death, Lee went to the United States where she received two master’s degrees; one in rehabilitation counseling at Boston University and another in social welfare at Columbia University. She is now going through a Ph.D. course in social welfare at UCLA.
Lee said that she will not trade her current life with one she had before the accident.
“It may sound silly, but I do not want to go back to the day (before the accident),” she said.
“I lost many things but looking back, I realize that I also gained a lot. I am happier than before the accident.”
“I did not ‘suffer’ the accident, I met it. That day I was born again,” she said.