Monday, June 24, 2013

Joseph Kim: The family I lost in North Korea. And the family I gained.

Both as a person and as a South Korean, this is very touching. I almost cried watching this. I can picture a little starved boy searching trash can after trash can, hoping that the next trash can had bread in it. There are also several things that I relate to him as a Korean. The best way to honor one's parents in Korea is to study. It is part of the driving force that makes Korean people study so hard. Studying is not an easy task; it requires concentration, discipline, and perseverance. He would have studied hour after hour, thinking of his father who was starved to death, every word of his teachings echoing in his ears. Another thing that made tears well up in my eyes was how he called out "누나" to his sister. This is where the Korean language shows its true value. The word "누나," which means older sister, has a warm connotation. It's the kind of word that makes one picture a teenage girl carrying her young brother on her back, showing genuine care for him, feeding him, being his second mother. "누나"s are people boys (and also many men) rely on during hard times. Korean 누나s have saved their little brothers during times of war and famine, feeding them soup they made on their own and lulling them to sleep. In some way, seeing a 누나 take care of her brother is more touching than seeing a mother. They're doing it even though it's not their natural responsibility. She might still be young, but acts mature just for her brother. And the sister-brother relationship is the most heartwarming, because 누나s are the only people for whom boys drop their masculinity and aggressiveness. 누나s are the symbol of maternal love found in young girls. It's one of my favorite words of the Korean language. The word brings tears to my eyes.

And this guy. He said 누나. He called out 누나. And now I'm weeping. For him. And for all the 누나s and their brothers who are separated.

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