April 16, 2015

TBT: My grandmother. Date unknown. Somewhere in Korea.


This is my mom's mother. My grandmother. I never met her and only heard a couple of stories about her. And I just realized, I don't even know her name.

She had my mom when she was old - I mentioned before that by the time my mom was born, her oldest brother was old enough to be her dad. In fact, his daughter, I believe, was born around the same time as my mom. 

My brother met her when he was little but I don't think he has any recollection of her. I think when she passed away it was hard on my mom. It's not something she outwardly told me, it's just an inkling I have. While she had her older sister to lean on, I think my mom leaned on her own mom the most.

When I was a kid, and even now, I loved cold buckwheat noodle soup, or neng myun in Korean. Any time we were out, whether it was summer or winter, all I wanted was that. I recall my mom always saying how my grandmother would've loved seeing me eat neng myun so well. My grandmother loved neng myun, too. And my mom also added that my grandmother would've made me her famous Pyongyang {yes, Pyongyang as in North Korea Pyongyang} style neng myun just for me. 

My mother's family was originally from the northern part of Korea. That was before a random line, the 38th parallel, was drawn that would split Korea into two, North and South. Right before the war broke out, my mom's family came down to the southern part of Korea and took refuge there. A few months ago my mom told me this wild tale about their trek down and how their family unfortunately got split up but then was reunited by a miracle -- something to do with her oldest son and how he was able to get an army vehicle to help them.  I just don't know whether I can believe her or not. It just feels like the whole story is made up from her illness, but a small part of me thinks, what if she's telling the truth?

When I see so much hated, ignorance and mockery spurred at the people of North Korea, for being backward and almost delusional, my heart sinks with sadness. I think people, even those who live in South Korea, forget that we are all the same. We are one. We are all Korean. Not South Korean or North Korean, but Korean. That for some of us, we may still have family there. The whole Korean War and it still being divided in two is a sad story, one that started with greed and politics. And inbetween were families who were separated. When I think about my grandmother and my mom's wider family, I wonder if I too have distant relatives who I may never get to know, who live in a part of the country where the entire world seems to think it's ok to mock and degrade. That makes me sad.

 // Linking up with Want / Need

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