March 19, 2015

TBT: Pretty cousin from last week's post. Seoul, Korea. 1984.

 // The back of the photo says this is from August, 1984.
Maybe when the picture was taken or maybe when it was developed.  // 

This is Jong Ae unni {Jong Ae is her first name and "unnie" literally means older sister. It's an honorific used by girls - boys use "nuna". The terms are not necessarily used for immediate family members - it's used widely, outside of the family when addressing someone you know/are fond of who is older than yourself}. 

She was the one who was helping my brother cut his birthday cake in last weeks' TBT post. I mentioned how she used to work as a flight attendant for Korean Air Lines before they dropped "Lines" from their official name. I remember I had this picture of her and wanted to show her in her full uniform in front of the airline's logo. 

Doesn't she look beautiful?

I always looked up to her. She was a favorite cousin of mine and would bring all sorts of treats from her work travels. One time when I was hospitalized as a child she brought delicious cookies and this packaged grape juice that I fell in love with. I kept drinking it throughout the night and I ended up wetting the hospital bed. That was super embarrassing {for my mom too who gave me a playful noogie} but I think I thought it was well worth it because the juice was that good.  

In 1983, Jong Ae unni was supposed to be on Flight 007 which was shot down. There were no survivors. She asked her friend to take her place because she had a pre-arranged engagement she needed to tend to so they decided to swap crew duties. My mom told me how devastated she was when she found out  and carried with her so much guilt. 

After my family immigrated to the US in 1986 I didn't see or keep in touch with Jong Ae unni. I would see her later in 1998 in Pusan, Korea, and I was so elated for our reunion although it was under much sadder circumstances.

My mom who I mentioned before on the blog has been suffering from a mental illness and that time in Pusan she had a major episode and ended up traveling to Inchon to see her older sister who she hasn't seen in many years. My aunt was so shocked to see my mom in such a bad state and that was when she first learned that her younger sister was suffering from mental illness - an illness which their brother also suffered from.

She along with Jong Ae unni and her brother {my other favorite cousin} brought her back to Pusan and the first thing Jong Ae unni said to me was, "What is wrong with your mom?" It was said in a way - cold and disconnected - that was hurtful or least hurtful to my 20 year old self. I remember having such young sensitive thoughts like "she is not my favorite cousin anymore." 

I look back at our short reunion now and don't think that way anymore. I wish I was a bit more mature and I wish I could have conversed with them to let them know that even though my mom, their aunt, was suffering from mental illness, she was, deep inside, still the same person they knew from way back when. 

Maybe one day I'll get that chance again. 

 // Linking up with Want / Need

** I think maybe I discouraged some people to link up because of the long stories that accompany my pictures. Sometimes I like to ramble on and on and am grateful for people who stop and read along. When I discovered this TBT series hosted by Wendy, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to begin telling the stories of my mom and also my family. It's been something that I wanted to do for a very long time. I don't know much about my mom's side of the family and would love to one day retrace her steps and get to know her and her life better. Sometimes when I ask her now I can't tell if it's made up or if it's real. It's her illness. Anyway, I feel like we all have such fun and interesting pictures to share from the past. The link up guidelines are super simple and long stories are not one of them - and pictures only need to be a year old. I hope you'll decide to link up! 

** Sorry. I rambled again. 

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