Big Aunt

My Father’s Stories: Number Three – Big Aunt (Kun Go-Mo).

This is the story of my grandfather’s elder sister and her husband.  My father does not know his Kun Go-Mo‘s name – he was not told, and he did not ask.

I saw her only a few times when I was a small child. I have only a vague memory of her.

This story is based on the information given mainly by my grand mo who was her mother (70%), my mother (10%) and my own, eye witness (20%).

Year born: around 1898

Year deceased: around 1947

Cause of death: unknown

Physical appearance: Medium height and medium build

External (facial) appearance: average

Character: Super strong personality and out spoken (probably got it from her mom, my grand mo)

She married a real gentle man who owned a furniture manufacturing store or company (how big? I don’t know) in Won-San City, (now in North Korea). Because of the name of the city she lived in, we used call her Won-San Go-Mo. Won-San is located about 150 miles north east of Seoul; a port city, facing the East Sea; their beach was famous. (At that time, Korea was one. The Lee dynasty united the kingdoms into one Korea. South and North Korea was only divided right after World War II, like Germany, by the world superpowers.)

My Won-San Go-Mo-Bu (Won-San Go-Mo’s husband) made frequent business trips to Japan to purchase special, tiny, half spherical-headed nails, special glues and various accessories necessary to make furniture. On his way to Japan, he had to pass through Dae-Gu by train from Won-San to Pu-San and then ferry to Japan. Perhaps his strong wife told him, rather ordered him: “you should pay a visit to your mother-in-law in Dae-Gu, you got that?” Whatever the reason, he visited our house to see my grand mo and my father (his brother-in-law) once in a while. He was a polite and nice guy too as far as I remember. I recall one time when he was in our house, I was opening a door and about to enter a room, I saw he was opening his brown leather suit case from a distance. It was a side view but I remember that suit case was full of paper money. So, I did not go in that room and just closed the door right away and pretended that I did not see anything else. Later on, I just told my mom about it but nobody else. I was about five years old I think.

That was a long time ago. After World War II, his son, my cousin brother, (much older than me) grown up and together with his aged parents, escaped down to the south (Seoul) from the pro-communist government of Kim, Il Sung. So I had a chance to meet him after I grew up too. Once when I went up to Seoul to take my pre-medical college entrance examination, I learned that my Won-San Go-Mo (my father’s elder sister) had passed away couple of years ago. Of cause my mother might have told me about this when she died but I forgot about it, I think. So my Won-San Go-Mo died. Second and last time I saw him (Won-San Go-Mo-Bu) was when I was in second year of pre-medical college in Yon-Sei University, right after the Korean War erupted, and Seoul had fall to the North Korean army in three days. In that super-chaotic time, I met him in their house. He was pale and bed ridden; nobody was in the house except him and a maid with some reserved food. A few weeks later, he died. I cremated him together with a church member’s help as a family representative. My cousin brother was a pastor in that church too.

My cousin brother was a different type of pastor. He was a theological scholar and leading philosopher. Was this the last time I saw him?  I will write more about him when I write my story.

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