Meet Dr Yoon

A brief introduction to Dr Maryann Yoon (formerly Nancy Wong), Las Vegas' Medical Examiner.

“Oh Marty! You gotta come see this,” Maryann hunches forward over the keys, the paper plate balanced in one little hand carefully to keep her alfalfa sprouts from sprinkling the keys. She just hated crumbs in her keys. She teases at the crust of the bread and pushes up her glasses with her thumb. Above her desk are crayon pictures of dragons and butterflies, and some kind of vehicle with shooting flames. “New infection; bear in Atlanta. What’s a bear doing in Atlanta in the Summertime? It has to be hotter than Hades,” she nibbles the edge of the crust and looks over the edge of her glasses at the screen. “Look at the claw marks on that sternum, will you? I wish I could get a swab of that! You think you could make a call?” She looks back over her shoulder, the office chair squealing.

Dr. Maryann Yoon was the daughter of Korean immigrants and not unique in the canvas of the American Southwest. The countryside was built of the backs of immigrants, despite what the politicians and news media would have you believe today. The Spaniards with their rancheros and missions, the hacienda culture and the railways and the gold rush, and the endless sweeping tide of culture and humanity all built the southwest. Who would have ever guessed that entertainment would have drawn people to the smoky dry valleys of Southern California, in the end, stronger than any other prize? In the end, it was Hollywood, and the promise of a perfect life under the California sun.

The myth persisted overseas long after it died for the immigrants already established in the US. The ones here learned the awful truth in the Depression, though the promise was still fresh for the war-torn societies in Southeast Asia. As America’s armies surged overseas, a tide of humanity made their way in an opposite direction. Small communities became towns. Streets became established, where signage would be written in native, familiar language. You could go your whole life here and speak like you did in the old country, except here you could sleep in a bed and have carpet below your feet and air conditioning in the summer. The children of the immigrant culture would never know the hardship of their parents except in the hushed tales that their parents would find too painful to speak.

Maryann came when she was 7 and entered American school right away. She sat in class next to Vietnamese boys and girls, next to Mexican immigrants, a Slavic girl, a few Caucasians and the rare African American. Failure was not an option for her, though she never quite understood why. Her father was a tailor, and her mother helped by taking orders in broken English. Neither ever learned to speak the language of their new home fully, but relied on their family to translate. They lived with their aunt and uncle, cousins and paternal grandparents in as big a house as they could afford in Garden Grove, CA.

Maryann saw the unusual as an escape from the dreadful normalcy of her life. Her days as a girl consisted of chores and schoolwork. Books, then the computer were her escape into a world beyond. College meant freedom beyond comprehension. She was willing to do whatever the family chose for her as long as it meant she would not be living at home. The family chose for her to become a doctor, for the honor it would bring upon them. Maryann had an interest in science, and accepted this, and her college years were her happiest.

Good Korean girls do not, however, become medical examiners, however talented. They do not make a career of death. They most certainly do not publish papers on the subject of trauma inflicted by preternaturals, accompanied by a series of graphic (and utterly fascinating) photos of crime scene photography gleaned from years of research. Maryann was hooked by a world they said never existed. A failed marriage ( to a non-Korean, no less!) and two kids later, her parents were not any more approving of her or her actions. It was a wonder they even spoke to her anymore… though heaven knows they threatened not to on a weekly basis!

When the vampires emerged from the darkness, her phone started ringing and hasn’t stopped since. Suddenly, no one was laughing at the Yoon’s little girl. Maryann was a popular person to know, though she was never one to hoard information. She shared, and shared freely. She was called to consult… to come look at crimes all over the country… and she refused. Her kids meant more to her than any interesting corpse ever would. In the end, it was Las Vegas that offered her the best deal. An anonymous grant was offered to hire her on, provide a place for her and school and nanny for her kids. The money was good for a City job: not too much to feel like she couldn’t be objective in her job. Plus… Vegas. How could that not be exciting?

She bets that Vegas never had a ME that was more cheerful about her work. Every day was an adventure. Every body has a story. Maryann loves her work, and doesn’t care who knows it.

The sandwich on her plate dries as she flips through the latest in her consulting inbox. Marty, her assistant, seems otherwise occupied and decidedly uninterested in infected were-bears. A few more emails, maybe. Dr. Yoon turns back to the screen and smiles as she picks at her sandwich some more. A few more pictures. A few more stories.

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