I Got to Know My Aunt

Had I never left my normal life and moved to Korea in 2014 I would never have gotten to know my elderly Aunt. She was born in Incheon in 1942 under Japanese occupation and lived through the Korean War. She was the last link in my family that had memory of this difficult period and she passed away just recently. I was fortunate to have spent time with her and even more fortunate to have been able to ask her a few questions about her experiences. Had I stayed in Boston in my comfortable life with my comfortable job, these questions and answers would never have materialized.

  1. Did you experience the war? Yes. I remember suddenly having to leave Incheon with my family and having to walk to Gyeonggi-do to safety(50 miles). 
  2. What was it like? I was told that I got lost amongst the crowd and my Father (your Grandfather) wanted to leave without me but your Grandmother protested and wouldn’t leave. I was almost left in the shuffle.  
  3. Did you see any dead bodies? Yes. I saw many on the side of the road. When I would see them I would turn my head and close my eyes.
  4. What was my Grandfather like? He was a good man. He was a good good man. But he drank too much.
  5. What about my Father? He was too young to remember. He was just a baby.

The questions I would have liked to have asked but will never have the chance to.

  1. How did living through the war impact your life?
  2. What was my Grandmother like?
  3. How come you never talk about the hardships you faced? Halmuni (Grandma) never spoke about it either.

I feel fortunate that I was able to build a relationship with my Aunt and I also feel regret that I didn’t call her more often before she passed.

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