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Date 17.06.23 Hit 365
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UnYong KIM's Memoir 65(Graphys)


              


65 A Mother that would Move Three Times for her Son

 


 


 
My mother struggled to always provide me with the best. After going to Duksan Elementary School until my 3rd year, I transferred to a school in Seoul. My mother was very interested in my education, and enrolled me in a school for Japanese students. I was the only Korean in the school.

My mother might have been worried that I might be physically suppressed by Japanese students, and she forced me to eat drinks made from ginseng. I hated drinking this bitter tasting drink, otherwise known in Korea as “hanyak.” One day, I threw the bowl with the drink against the wall. My mother, surprised from the loud noise, was furious.

“Our family is better off than others, and that is why we don’t have to worry about our meals, but there are still many people starving, and worrying about putting food on the table in the morning. I bought this oriental medicine drink because it is good for weak body. You should be ashamed of throwing it away because you don’t want to drink it.”

My mother was very reluctant. If I didn’t want to drink it, there were crowds of other people that would have appreciated it. She wanted to teach me to fix my attitude, because I had been raised without experiencing any difficulties.

My mother said that I must always be grateful for living an abundant life, and hit with a whip as punishment. After she was done, my calves were completely swollen. This was the first and last punishment of love that I received from her. My mother taught her children by becoming a great model figure. After the whipping incident, I remember thinking that I should never again go against my mother’s words.

My family was a landowner at that time. We owned a mine in Andong, and lands in Soosung, Chilgok, Jichun, and Uisung. We owned several houses in Seoul, and several houses in Daegu. I grew up well under these circumstances, but I am sure that it must have been difficult for my mother to live without a husband. In those days, women right was limited under Japanese rule.  

With World War Ⅱ lasting many years, all food were controlled by the government and life became difficult. Even after being liberated from Japanese rule, land had to be given out to the people according to the land reform act.

My mother moved to Seoul after my father passed away, because she thought that her children should be educated in the capital city. We moved to Myungryundong, where Sungkyunkwan University was located, and transferred me to an elementary school for Japanese students. At the time Kaheedong was full of wealthy people from Seoul, and Hyehwadong and Myungryundong was full of wealthy people moved from southern provinces.

1939년 대구 덕산 소학교 시절.jpg
▲ With my friends in Duksan elementary school, 1939, Daegu 

Studying in a Japanese school was very strict. The education was already westernized. I did not fall behind in my studies, but I was also a keen sports player. I had stayed close to sports ever since I was young. In my 4th year, I was chosen as 1 of the 2 school representatives in a all school relay race, and I was a champion in sumo wrestling.

Although it was in the middle of a war, I went on a school field trip once a month. The field trip at school was carried out with westernized philosophies. No matter what hardships come, one must live a civilized life. I remember the teacher taking us to see a movie in the theater. Picnics and movies helped to broaden the perspectives of the students. Just like a seagull can see very far, the field trips were effective in broadening our view on life.

I became targets of nasty Japanese students, because I was a Korean in a Japanese school, and also because I excelled in my studies and sports.
In my house, there were some very rare and valuable books. All of them were collected by my father, and most of them were Japanese. I let the other students borrow it as well. Then one day, I saw all the books that I lent, piled up on top of my desk. The Japanese students said “Thank you, it was fun.” I simply thought that they really enjoyed the book and they were returning them.

In reality, this was a setup. The books did not fit into my bag, and they were piled up on top of my desk. Right at this moment, the teacher walked in. After the teacher made her daily morning announcement, one Japanese student opened his mouth. “Teacher! Kim always reads these detective stories at school. He was telling us that we could borrow it and he was interrupting our studies.” I was so surprised that I couldn’t find words to say. I wanted to explain myself but I didn’t because everybody around me was Japanese. The heavens must have helped. The Japanese teacher said, “Pead these books at home.”.

Even since that incident, there were bullies that called me “Chosenjin,” and I sometimes got into a fist fight with them in the streets. I thought that I didn’t want to go to school.” However, adults around me told me that, “Sometime in the future, the day will come when Korea becomes independent, and all the Japanese will run away, so be patient.”

The more Japanese students made fun of me, the more I didn’t want to lose to them. Perhaps these memories of my youth made me grow up into a man with indefatigable fighting man.


 



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