The Original Address

About 2 weeks ago, I asked my father if he would send me some stories about his life and the life of his family in Korea, most of whom I do not know.  He demurred.  But because my youngest brother also expressed a desire to hear the  stories, my father has labored to send one every couple of days.  I will present the stories here, edited for gross grammatical errors, with little commentary of my own.

My Father’s Stories: Number One – General Information

True to form, my father began the first of his recollections from “the beginning.”  No haphazard stories sent as he remembered them; he would start from as far back as he could and work his way to the present.

First, he wanted us (his three children) to know that we are “ordinary” people.

As far as I know, we did not have prominent figures in our family. This is just an ordinary people’s story.

Second, he gave our “original address,” as well as some background information to put that address into context.

Korea is a tiny country in the far (north) east, as you know. We have a continental climate – severe winters because it is influenced by cold low pressure jet flows formed from Russia near Lake Baikal pushing down to our area. Geographically, it is a peninsula. The northern border of North Korea is bordered by China (Manchuria region) and Russia in the north east corner near Vladivostok. The southern part is close to Japan, separated by the Korea Strait.

Korea’s history goes back 5000 years (? They always said so). Mountainous, under developed and very poor for 5000 years because there was always fighting among the kingdoms in the Korean peninsula until recent years. Korea was liberated from 36 years of cruel Japanese rule after the Second World War in 1945.

Korea has one language, but because of primitive transportation systems in olden days plus the fact that it is a mountainous country, many areas were isolated and consequently developed unique dialects, customs, foods etc. in each province.

South Korea had 8 provinces, with 5 in the South. We are from Kyungsang-Do (Do means province). It has subdivisions of north and south.

Kyungsang-Do is located in the south east part of the Korean peninsula. (Chulla-Do is located in the south west part of Korea.)

Now, Daegu (city), about 200 miles south of Seoul, is the capital of Kyungsang North Province, the third largest city in Korea after Seoul and Pusan (a port city; the capital of Kyungsang South Province).

Daeshin-Dong is located in the north west part of Daegu city.

Our original address (which does not change for the entire life of every member of the whole family), registered during  grandparents’ days, or even before:

68 Daeshin-Dong, Daegu (city), Kyungsang Book Do, Republic of Korea (South Korea)

(Dong means smallest section of administrative area, Book means north and Do means province). We never lived there but perhaps my grand parents and/or great great grand parents lived there.

We have written this original address thousands of times during our life time to fill up all kinds of documents, like applications etc. along with name, age, gender and present address.

Recently, Korea abolished this original address system because it created so many problems and we now just write present address only. Those problems all stem from provincial discrimination: some individuals don’t like the people from certain provinces – politicians utilize this for their votes; some parents discourage their childrens’ marriages because of this; when some companies hire people, they check the applicant’s original address; and even Presidents, when they form cabinets, try to get members from the same province, etc.

This has really been nonsense – ridiculous – and a lot of critics and thinkers were crying to eliminate the origin of this problem, which is the original address. It was also about time to remove it because unlike in the olden days, all of Korea is a one-day living circle because of a convenient, modernized transportation system.

By the way, among our past 9 Presidents, 6 were from Kyungsang-Do, 2 from Seoul metro and 1 from Chulla-Do (most unpopular).

I guess this part is boring. Next time, I will start to write about my grand parents – older generation first, then to the younger, as far as I can remember.


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