November 19, 2015

TBT: My mom and her niece and nephew. Korea. 1950s.


I'm guessing it's the 1950s. My mom was born in 1950. She can't be any more than 10 years old in this picture so it's some time in the 50s when her mom, my grandmother, I presume, took her to this photo session. My mom is the girl in the middle. The other girl and boy are my mom's niece and nephew {my mom's oldest brother's children}. 

I remember asking my mom why she looks so sad in this picture. She said it's because she was sick and didn't want to take pictures. I don't recall a lot from the conversation I had with her when I was asking her everything about this photo {I was such a curious, or perhaps, nosy child} - just that she said she was sick and that her mother would always buy matching clothes for her and her niece. Like in this picture. 

I was going to crop out the image because I did such a horrible job of scanning it but decided not to because I wanted you to see the zig zag pattern around the border. Maybe this was the latest "thing" or some fancy trick people did to photos back then. 

While the picture itself is quite intriguing to me {the props, backdrop, their clothing, dirty floors, rusty wheels, her rubber shoes and dirty feet? maybe from playing too much?}, what really draws my attention is the back of the photo. Some of our old family photos have random markings or words or phrases but this picture is jam packed with text all written in Chinese, and some Korean, characters. I think back then people in Korea, while we had the Korean alphabet, incorporated the usage of Chinese characters more - you'd see this in old newspaper articles. 

I unfortunately don't know what it says. I am very curious and will probably seek someone out to translate it to me. I can however make out my mom's name, which is written in Chinese letters. I recognize the "beautiful" and "child" characters. That is the meaning of her name - Mi Ja, or beautiful child. I mentioned that before in my previous post didn't I. For some reason I like mentioning it. I think the meaning suits her. The other two texts, which I assume are also names, are probably my mom's niece and nephew's names. I don't know what they are. 

There is also the place where this photo was taken written in Korean but I can't make out the words. 

So much mystery and intrigue and history in one photo, no? 

I wonder what the writing says and I wonder who wrote it.

Was it my grandmother?

If this is her handwriting then I am so amazed that I have a piece of her right here. I never got to meet her but I have heard so many stories about her. And my mom always told me that my grandmother would've showered me with so much love. She always said this because I grew up in the shadow of my brother who was the first son {my father was also the first son of his family and my grandfather as well, so my brother being the first son was kind of a big deal}. He was always the center of attention whenever we would visit family on my father's side. I was never made to feel belittled or left out, but there was always an understanding that my brother was the big deal and I was just a girl. Just part of how society functioned, I guess. 

So much mystery, intrigue and history in one photo that lets out a flood of memories and thoughts. This is why I love old photos. 

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