She lived in the northern parts of Korea before there was a demarcation line. Her life was different than mine … everything about it. Her home, the way she dressed, the food she ate, her peace and her safety.
Mom has never talked much about life in Korea. It was hard there. And it was good too. Born on December 7th in the year of 1933 to Mang, So Chun. That is her father’s name. I’ve never been told her Mom’s name. When Mom was three, her own Mom died. Her Dad remarried sometime in the next years and Mom had half sisters and brothers.
Life quickly changed for Mom. By the time she was 12, her country had split in two. Her family had to leave their home in what became North Korea. They left on foot headed to what is now South Korea. She was one of approximately 900,000 Koreans fleeing their homes.
It was a dangerous time. Mom has told my siblings and me about how they had to hide from the soldiers, how they walked along the water’s edge at night so as not to be heard. She had to help carry one of her half-sisters who was too little to walk.
By the time she was 17, the Korean War was in full swing. Hiding was part of her life. At one point, Mom’s Father hid her in the woodpile to keep the soldiers from seeing her.
I feel as though I just can’t even imagine … but then the thought of it brings tears to my eyes.
Eventually, the war was over, but the unsettled country still needed help getting back to a place of peace. American soldiers either remained or were sent there to help keep the peace and make sure violence didn’t break out. One man, Milford Marvin Tognazzini was part of that crew. He and Mang Jung hi met …
The two became one and then to America they came …
That was the spring of 1956.