'Serial' Fans Need To Pay Attention To Hae Min Lee's Family's Emotional Statement
Adnan Syed, the Baltimore man who was convicted of the murder of Hae Min Lee in 2000 and is now much more famously known as "the guy from the Serial podcast," continued his post-conviction hearing on Monday. In a rare and heartbreaking caveat, however, Hae Min Lee's family finally broke their silence in a statement pleading the public to remember who the real victim of the case is — their daughter, who was murdered at the age of 16. The Lee family released their statement through the Maryland Attorney General preceding the hearing, saying it "re-opened wounds that few can imagine."
In their statement, the Lee family said:
It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. She stood up for what was right, regardless of popular opinion.
They also spoke directly to the millions of fans of the Serial podcast, to whom it seems Hae Min Lee is little more than a character in a story, while Adnan is the underdog hero: "unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials — so many witnesses, so much evidence," they wrote.
Their emotional and angry statement was a long time coming; the Lee family did not participate in Sarah Koenig's reopening of the case of Hae Min Lee's murder, as was their right. But the effect of that was that Syed was made the protagonist, with Koening seeming like she believed he was innocent and shaping the podcast so audiences would come to that conclusion as well.
Whether or not that is true, the Lee family is right that Serial listeners do not enough consider who the real victim was: their daughter. The Lee family went on to say:
We are grateful to the media for respecting our privacy, but we ask that everyone remember who the criminal is and who the victim is. Weeks like this, it is easy to forget that seventeen years ago the beautiful, blossoming song of Hae Min Lee was silenced forever by Adnan Syed. In her diary, Hae once wrote: ‘Do love and remember me forever.’ We do, and we always will.
It's a reminder that in the buzz and popularity of the podcast, Hae Min Lee's humanity has been minimized or forgotten. Many think that Syed is innocent, and be he a victim of the justice system or not, the Lee family lost their daughter in a terrible act of violence. It is unfortunate that they have to issue such a statement at all.
Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial which is currently in its second season covering the case of Bowe Bergdhal, is also doing a series of season one updates as Adnan Syed's hearing progresses. It will be interesting to see whether or not she acknowledges the Lee family's statement. Even as an avid fan of Serial, Koenig did come of as callous in her characterization of Hae Min throughout Season 1. Her family is right: she cannot be forgotten as a victim, regardless of how many people are rooting for Syed.