Small Aunt

My Father’s Stories: Number Five – Small Aunt (Jakun Go-Mo).

My grandfather’s younger sister was known to my father as Jakun Go-Mo, or Pusan Go-Mo, after the town in which she lived with her husband and children.   My father did not know her name, just as he did not know the name of his older aunt, known as Won-San Go-Mo.  But he knew the name of his uncle, a man who disappeared from their lives when my father was very young. It is interesting to me that the aunts (his father’s sisters) were both known by the city in which they lived.  Now what I want to know is:  Are the children of his father’s sisters also considered “real” cousins, or are they lumped in the same category as cousins from his mother’s side?

Year born: around 1905.

Year deceased: around 1951 (age around 46).

Cause of death: I don’t know.

Physical appearance: medium height and medium build.

External (facial) appearance: Beautiful (my father’s elder sister & younger brother were similar and my father & younger sister were good looking).

Character: very kind, always smiling, understanding, not talkative, good woman (my mother said she was a “real woman”).

I don’t know much about my Pusan Go-Mo. I saw them only a couple of time when I was a little kid and she died at an early age. So, this information is mainly from my grand mo and my mother.

She was married to a jeweler. I saw her husband (Go-Mo-Bu) once in his jewelry store with grand mo when grand mo visited Pusan with me when I was small. Pusan city is a port city, the second largest city in Korea, a little larger than Daegu, located at the southern end of the Korean peninsula, closest to Japan, separated by the Korea Straight.  In my vague memory, Go-Mo-Bu was tall, of medium build and wore silver-framed eye glasses. He was polite to my grand mo who was his mother-in-law. I got an impression at that time that he was a nice gentleman.

They had three children (my cousins).

(1)   Female: name – don’t know or I forgot. Much older than me (maybe by about 8 years), medium height and somehow chubby, pretty, married to a police officer who later became one of the highest ranked police officers in the country I heard.

(2)   Male: Choi, Yoon Kun, about 6 years older than me, medium height and slightly chubby, average looking, married to a selfish, egoistic woman, medium rich, owned automobile parts store.

(3)   Male: Choi, Yoon Pil, about 3 years older than me, medium height, heavy built, muscular, liked all kinds of sports, especially base ball and fencing (Japanese style).

To refresh some of your memories, when I was in second year Pre-Med in Seoul, the Korean War erupted on 6/25/1950. Seoul fell in three days; the North Korean army pushed down all the way to near Daegu… I cremated Won-San Go-Mo-Bu [Won-San Go-Mo’s husband]. Then I was in one of the waves of refugees accompanied by two other friends. We walked and walked down towards the south – towards Daegu. Almost near the Daegu, as a refugee, in civilian clothes, holding a Yonsei University student certificate, we met US troops.  Can you imagine they put us in P.O.W. (prisoner of war) camp for 22 long months? I was freed on 7/21/1952 and revisited and enrolled in Yonsei University’s temporary war time school in Pusan in the second semester of second year in Pre-Med…

[This is not my memory at all.  As I remember the story, my father was a soldier when he and his three (not two) buddies, found themselves near the front.  They were scared and hungry.  When they saw the U.S. soldiers, they argued about what to do.  Three of them, including my father, wanted to show themselves to the Americans so that they could be taken back to their base.  The fourth did not – he didn’t trust the U.S. soldiers.  They argued for some time, because my father wanted them all to make a unanimous decision – he wanted them all to be together.  They did not come to an agreement, and the fourth friend split off and ran in the opposite direction.  My father and his two other friends showed themselves to the U.S. soldiers, expecting relief.  Instead, they were taken (to be North Korean soldiers) as prisoners of war.]

Then, I went to my Pusan elder cousin brother Yoon-Kun’s house, near where our Yonsei temporary war time school was, to ask if I could stay in their house for about 6 months of schooling, because it was predicted that by the time I completed Pre-Med, the Government might allow citizens to return to Seoul.

My cousin elder brother heard my story and said “OK” although somewhat reluctantly. However, his wife, my aunt, didn’t look happy about it. Later, I told my mom about that situation. My mom said “old saying: ‘one leg (one chon) distance is like 1000 miles’ If your Go-Mo (my fathers younger sister who is 3 chon level, cousin = 4 chon) was still alive she would have welcomed you gladly.” Any way, I had no choice because I knew my parents didn’t have enough money, especially in that war time. Never the less, I was only able to stay in Yoon-Kun cousin’s house less than a month.

Stories will follow when I write my own story.

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