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Interview with Hyun Sook Han




Hyun Sook Han was born in about 1938 in Seoul, Korea. She was the oldest of ten children in her family, only seven of whom survived to adulthood. Her parents grew up in a rural area of South Korea but moved to Seoul as young adults. Her father was an office worker for an electric company. In 1945, when she was seven years old, Korea gained independence after 40 years of Japanese rule, but five years later the Korean War began. It was a period of severe hardship for residents of Seoul, who had to evacuate the city in January of 1951 and move with United Nations troops to the south. With widespread starvation and illness among the refugees, the three youngest children in her family died, and none of the others could attend school until they returned to Seoul in October of 1952. Seoul in 1952 was the scene of continuing food shortages and lack of adequate shelter, and although her father had a job, he was not paid initially. In 1958 she entered Ewha Women's University, and remembering the many abandoned babies and children she had seen during the wartime evacuation to the south she decided to prepare for a career in social work. After graduation from Ewha, she married and had a daughter, and in 1964 she accepted a job with International Social Services, an agency that handled American adoptions of racially mixed children born in Korea as a result of the American military presence. In 1971 she was selected by the U.S.-sponsored Council for International Programs for a four-month period of study and training at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work and the Children's Home Society of St. Paul. After her return to Korea she applied for a job at the Children's Home Society, and in 1975 she immigrated with her husband and two children to take a job in the agency's Korean adoption program. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Hyun Sook Han discusses her family background in Korea - hardships of the Korean War period - and the place of adoptions in the Confucian culture of Korea. She also describes the changing roles of men and women in the immigrant community in Minnesota - problems of child-rearing - difficulties for Koreans in forming friendships with Americans - the role of the church - and problems of many Korean wives of American soldiers in Minnesota. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Hyun Sook Han is an articulate representative of the women in the Korean immigrant community and provides valuable information on the changing family structure and special groups such as adopted children and servicemen's wives.





World Region



Hyun Sook Han Narrator Sarah Mason Interviewer January 3, 1979

Sarah Mason Hyun Sook Han


SM: I’m talking to Mrs. Hyun Sook Han on January 3, 1978. HH: Nine. 1979. SM: Nine. I’m sorry. 1979. This is an interview conducted under the auspices of the Minnesota Historical Society. The interviewer is Sarah Mason. Mrs. Han, could you give us some background on your childhood in Korea, your family, your education, and your reasons for immigrating to Minnesota? HH: You mean talking about my parents? SM: Yes, if you are willing to. HH: Yes. My both parents are alive in Korea. SM: Yes. HH: And they are [unclear]. And both have only grade school backgrounds. My mother even did not complete grade school. That was under Japanese control. They came from a rural area and moved into Seoul, capitol city of Korea when they were in their early twenties. They did not meet each other before their wedding date. That marriage was arranged by the parents, like the usual. Most of that age people did not have free marriage like you have in the U.S. And they are three years . . . two years different. My father is two years older. SM: Yes. What is his work or his occupation? HH: He was . . . he worked at an electric company for a long time. Not a technician, just office worker. And later on, for almost ten or fifteen years, he worked at labor union, at that company. SM: Oh. I see. That’s a company union? HH: Yes. Company union. 1

SM: I see. HH: Union office. SM: And did your mother work, too? HH: No, she never worked. [Chuckles] There she was the mother of seven children. SM: Oh. She did work. [Chuckles] HH: She worked, yes, very hard. And then she gave birth for . . . ten children. SM: Oh. HH: And during the Korean War, the newborn baby died because of starvation. SM: Oh. HH: She was only one week old when Korean War was broken. SM: One year? HH: No, one week old. SM: Oh, I see. HH: And there was no milk available at that time and we had to evacuate and my mother did not have any breast milk because of all those crises. SM: Yes. HH: And so there was no food for the baby that young. SM: That was the last child born or . . .? HH: No. And then also during war, she was pregnant again, and gave birth for twin boys, eight and a half months premature, and died after three hours of birth because there was no facilities that time. SM: Oh, yes. This was in Seoul? HH: [Unclear] hospital to save their life. SM: Oh. 2

HH: So we even do not remember those babies. I just . . . SM: Yes. HH: I think among my siblings I’m the oldest one. SM: Oh. HH: I’m the only person who can remember even those things. SM: Oh, yes. Yes. You were the oldest one in this family then. HH: Yes. SM: I see. And so you grew up in Seoul then, is that right? HH: Yes, I grew up in Seoul and I was seven when we became independent, when Korea was independent. SM: Oh. HH: And I still remember we suffered from shortages of food during the Second World War. SM: Yes. HH: Everything we had to have a ticket to buy, for the food and shoes and clothing and . . . and all the brass items and silver, gold, were collected by Japanese. SM: Oh. HH: We couldn’t keep even . . . SM: They confiscated it. HH: Yes, our dishes and all kinds of kitchen items, including our tongs and chopsticks were all brasses. SM: Oh. HH: And they collected all those for use in the war. From every . . . SM: I see, from every family then?


HH: And from every single family, I still remember. We had to replace with some . . . At that time we didn’t have many plastics. Before and during the Second World War. SM: No, that’s too early. Yes. HH: So what did we replace . . .? Hmmm . . . wood. SM: Wood, for chopsticks. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Hmmm, then it would be hard to have cooked [unclear]. HH: The worst thing, my grandmother was very furious with this brass collection because all of the candlesticks for the ancestors worship. SM: Oh. Oh, yes. HH: She refused to give up those things and she buried some of them. [Chuckles] SM: Did she? HH: [Unclear] under the earth. So she saved some, but not much. SM: Ah ha. Oh. HH: For spoons for us or bowls for us was not important, but for ancestors worship. SM: Oh, yes. HH: [Unclear], were very important for her. SM: I see. Yes. HH: So she saved those. SM: What was her religion? HH: Mainstream of religion in Korea is Confucianism. SM: Confucianism. HH: Yes, no matter we are Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist, we still are Confucianists. SM: I see. 4

HH: Yes. We still believe those. SM: So was your family Buddhist, too? Or just Confucian? HH: No, just Confucian. SM: Yes. HH: So which means there was no religion. But strong believer . . . SM: Rituals and so on. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Yes. HH: And my father was the oldest son of the family, so he had to take over all those ancestors worship until the fifth ancestor’s generation, I mean fifth up from. SM: Yes. Oh. Fifth going back in years. HH: Going back in years, yes. SM: Yes. To the fifth generation. HH: Yes. SM: So that was a strong part of your childhood then, the Confucian. HH: Yes. And for my parents’ generation he has to keep his mother, grandmother, parents and younger brother at home, same home. So I was, too. SM: Oh, I see. HH: I was raised under great-grandmother, grandparents, an uncle, in the same family home, small home. SM: Oh. Great-grandmother, your parents . . . HH: And grandparents. SM: And grandparents and your uncle. HH: Uncle. Because my father had only one younger brother. 5

SM: I see. HH: And he separated after he married. SM: I see. HH: That is a very traditional family type life. SM: Yes. So that would be characteristic then. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Yes. Is that still characteristic? HH: In rural areas quite. SM: In rural areas. HH: But more and more, the grandparents and or just the son and family. SM: Yes. HH: Or nuclear family like in the U.S. SM: Oh. But that would be true mainly in the cities, would it? HH: Yes. SM: Yes. So there were four generations in your household. HH: Yes. SM: But now it’s more often three. HH: Yes. Two. SM: Or two. HH: Yes, or two. SM: I see. HH: But even they are, in two generation family homes, their way of thinking it is still for, and three generations, the way of thinking is still the same way. 6

SM: Oh, yes. Sure. Yes. Well, as a child did you have any contact with the United States or . . .? HH: No, we never knew about another world or another looking people. SM: Oh. HH: Until the Korean War. SM: I see. You never thought about people of other countries. HH: No. Look different. No never. [Unclear] SM: You never saw Westerners? HH: No . . . oh, yes. One single person from Russia. [Chuckles] SM: [Laughter] HH: After Russian Revolution. SM: Really. HH: What I heard when I was in grade school, he was very small, white man has long . . . SM: Beard? HH: Beard. SM: Hmmm. HH: And he was selling a hand and face cream. He made it at home. SM: [Chuckles] HH: At that time, my mother never had any cream. SM: Oh. HH: So it was quite fascinating. And he had a little cart, and he had to put all those out . . . all those things on the cart and he sold those creams to the neighbors. So if he shows up in the neighborhood, then all the neighborhood children go outside to look at him because of his white long beard. SM: [Chuckles] Oh, that’s interesting. 7

HH: And I think different looking eye colors. That’s why we were so fascinated. SM: Oh, I see. HH: But we never thought he was the same human being. SM: [Chuckles] he was from another planet. HH: Because he was a funny, funny grandpa. [Chuckles] SM: [Laughing] Funny grandpa. HH: Yes. SM: Was he a so-called White Russian in that he was against the Revolution and a refugee? HH: Yes. Yes. We called him White Russian. SM: Yes. Yes, those were the . . . HH: I don’t know. It . . . does it make sense? SM: Yes. Those were the ones against the Red group now. HH: Oh. Yes. That’s right. Yes. White Russian. SM: Yes. HH: But he was a very short man. SM: I see. HH: And then after independence, which was like I was in second grade, in grade school. SM: Yes. HH: I saw a couple of very tall, big beards . . . and [unclear] Western ladies on the street. SM: [Chuckles] Western ladies with beards? HH: No, no, no. No beard. But . . . SM: Oh. Yes, very tall. 8

HH: But they call . . . they are missionaries. SM: I see. Yes. And that was the first time you saw any? HH: Yes. SM: So they really must not have . . . HH: But very briefly, so I never even had an understanding about different looking people until the Korean War. SM: Until the Korean War. HH: Yes, that was . . . at that time I was in fifth grade. SM: I see. HH: Grade school. And I was like . . . twelve or thirteen. SM: Yes. And then you saw American soldiers. HH: At that time I saw . . . oh! I didn’t know if they were American or not because thirteen countries sent their people. SM: Right. Right. HH: And it was quite a shock. There were all different sizes, short, tall, fat, big, and small, and all different skin colors. And the first impression was . . . it was a very hot day. It was September. SM: Yes. HH: 1950. U.N. troops came to Korea to help our recovering land. And they were on the hills and we had to [unclear] from one side of the city to another side of the city. SM: Yes. HH: And they . . . they were washing in the field here without [unclear]. SM: Oh. HH: And so [unclear] and it was so strange, they have all those hairs on body. SM: [Chuckles] 9

HH: Asians do not have much hairs on the body like chest and arms. SM: Yes. HH: It was really shocking to see the men. SM: So the chest hair was really quite a shock. [Chuckles] HH: Yes. Yes. And just they looked like all different kinds of . . . monkeys. [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] Well, that . . . that must have been quite an experience for a young child. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: I see. So the people thought they looked like monkeys, I suppose, because of the hair. HH: Yes, hair, and then different skin colors. SM: Oh, yes. Well, that’s really interesting. HH: And then another thing was in 1951, January, we had to give up our city. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And have to evacuate down to the South. SM: Yes. HH: And because my mother just gave birth to the younger ones, who died during the occasion, we couldn’t evacuate fast like other people. So we were the last ones, one of the last ones. And we had to evacuate with U.N. troops together. So it was quite [unclear]. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And at that time, many, many babies were abandoned on the street. And not abandoned by the parents, I think their parents were killed by the attack of the airplanes. SM: Oh. HH: And those people, or those U.N. troops never smiled. Yes, who can smile under the war. SM: Yes. HH: We were all so serious and just . . . we were too pressured, too much pressure. But they helped us to find out the way to evacuate. 10

SM: Oh. Yes. HH: So . . . SM: So they helped the civilians. HH: To evacuate. We had . . . SM: Yes. Was that all by walking mainly? HH: Yes, all walking. No cars. No trains. All walking. SM: Right. HH: Just a lot of people on this . . . SM: Yes. HH: Moving, just moving and moving. We couldn’t sleep and we couldn’t eat, we just moved and moved. SM: So you just walked South. HH: Walked South. SM: Was anything set up their for refugee camps or anything? HH: No, no. Yes, I was in the huge camps for six months. SM: Yes. HH: And many people, many children died during those camping life. SM: Oh. HH: Like one baby has bad diarrhea and many babies have and they all died. SM: Oh, yes. HH: We were lucky, because none of my sisters and brothers died during those [unclear]. SM: Yes. Well, see, who was bombing at that point? The Americans? HH: Americans. 11

SM: Yes. HH: Yes. But mis-bombed onto us. SM: Yes. HH: Because we were right on by the evacuation troops. SM: Oh, I see. HH: So mis-bombed. SM: Boy, that happens a lot. HH: That time, Communists, they didn’t come down. SM: Right. So they were trying to bomb the Communists? HH: Communists. And they bombed down onto us. SM: And they bombed the wrong people. Yes, that’s happened a lot. HH: Yes. And the food shortage was really great. And even we had money, we couldn’t buy the food. SM: Oh. HH: And during the evacuation if we had some materials like Korean dresses or golden rings, and we had to exchange for the food in rural areas. SM: Oh, yes. HH: Because they do not believe . . . they did not believe the money. Even with money they couldn’t buy the things. SM: I see. Yes. HH: And all those citizens had money, but we couldn’t use the money, for a while. SM: Yes. So you had to barter with the . . . HH: It was during the evacuation. But after we came back to Seoul, yes, we needed the money. SM: Oh, yes. How much later was that, that you came down? 12

HH: Ah . . . that was like January we left the home and we came back the next year October. SM: Oh. So it was over a year then. HH: Over a year. SM: A year and a half or almost. HH: Yes, a year and a half. Yes. SM: Yes. HH: During those times I couldn’t go to school. SM: Oh. HH: Some refugees sent children to school but my father did not believe he had to send children to school at that time. SM: Right. So there was no school for you for about two years or a year and a half? HH: A year and a half. SM: Well, were there some makeshift schools that people sent them to? Or I mean, they couldn’t be running on a regular basis, could they, in the [unclear]? HH: Yes. After the war was over, even in the Southern area, many refugees sent their children to a school and even colleges evacuated and they all came to school, so they . . . SM: Yes. HH: Eventually, children went to school. But for those one and a half years was real war. SM: Yes. There’s no chance for school. HH: So we never even had considered about schooling. SM: Right. HH: And many people didn’t go back to Seoul right after the taking back Seoul from Communists, because they still worried another evacuation. SM: Oh, yes. 13

HH: So many people even bought a house and . . . SM: Oh, they just settled in the South. HH: And lived in the South. SM: Yes. HH: But my family came back right away. SM: Oh. Yes. HH: When I came back to home, all the Korean houses has the big gate, wooden gate. SM: Yes. HH: And those gates were broken, it was open house. And the grass is all over. SM: Oh, yes. HH: Just tall grass, it’s like . . . yes, it was emptied. SM: Yes. HH: For a year and a half. SM: I suppose everything was taken. HH: Yes, all the doors were broken inside of the house and somebody had stolen everything. We didn’t have anything left over. SM: Yes. HH: And my father had a job but the company couldn’t pay, because there was no money. SM: He went back to the same company? HH: Yes. SM: Yes. HH: But there was no money available to pay. And even we . . . and then later on he had the salary, little salary, but still we didn’t have enough goods to buy. SM: Oh, yes. 14

HH: So starving was just unbelievable. SM: Hmmm. HH: My mother’s miscarriage for those twin boys was actually from malnutrition and plus overactivity. Like, we didn’t have anything for the fire, warming the house and to boil the food. So she had to go to the mountain and here to find us some wood for the fire. SM: Oh, yes. HH: So the two died. She worked too hard when she was too heavy, so it happened. SM: Oh, that’s pretty hard times. HH: But we are still pretty lucky because no one was killed during the war and after the war. SM: Yes. HH: And those newborns or premature babies we never counted. [Chuckles] So, yes, it was . . . oh! Many families lost their people, their families from the Communists. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And during the war, all from the bombs. SM: Yes. HH: And school . . . the conditions were the same, so school decided to put us into the right grade. SM: Oh. HH: So I didn’t study for a fourth and fifth grades, but I jumped into sixth grade right away. SM: I see. HH: And that was decided as a whole country, because there was no way . . . SM: Yes, to work it out otherwise. HH: Otherwise I would be too old. Many children would be too old to graduate school. SM: I see. 15

HH: So it was just the same. SM: Yes. So was there a quicker pace taken or something to catch up? HH: Mmmm, no. SM: Not really. HH: We tried to catch up but it was impossible. So, that way . . . SM: Yes. That was a loss, really. HH: Yes, that was the loss. A big loss. SM: Yes. HH: But still, we were luckier than junior high or [high] school student or college. They really lost. SM: Oh, yes. Yes. HH: So grade school students were the luckiest people. SM: Yes. HH: We never suffered because of loss. SM: That’s the easiest to adjust. HH: Yes, easiest case, I’m sure. SM: I see. HH: And when I went to junior school, we call it middle school in Korea. SM: Junior middle school? HH: Yes, junior middle school. SM: Yes. HH: Which means the seventh to ninth graders. SM: Yes. 16

HH: Until seventh . . . eighth grade, I never remember [chuckles] we studied in the classroom. SM: [Chuckles] HH: We went out for a demonstration every day. [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] Yes. HH: To be against . . . about peace talks. SM: Oh. HH: We wanted to take back our country for freedom. SM: Oh, I see. HH: And Truman talked peace talks. SM: Yes. HH: And stopped the war. SM: Right. HH: And General MacArthur was Korean side. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: And he insisted Korea should be one Korea during this war. And we shouted and screamed as a group . . . all the students went out in the street every day in the morning, we put the school bag in the classroom. [Chuckles] Went out for demonstrations all day, and our voices never stayed the same way, always changing. [Chuckles] SM: So MacArthur was the hero then to the Korean people. HH: Almost two years, yes. And then in 1953 the world stopped. Truman won. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: Then we went back to school to study [unclear]. SM: So that was about two more years of lost education. [Chuckles] HH: [Chuckles] Yes. That’s right. 17

SM: I see. So the Korean people were pretty much against the peace talks then at that moment. HH: Yes, [unclear] the Communists. SM: Yes. HH: And like more than five million evacuated from Communism. And we believed strongly that people in North Korea should be free. SM: Right. So they came . . . HH: And then we do not need to worry about another war. SM: Yes. HH: When Korea is one Korea. SM: Yes. HH: And still South Korea worries about attacks from the North Koreans. SM: Yes. Yes, so five million came down from the North to the South, is that right? HH: More than five million. SM: More than five million. HH: My husband is one those who evacuated. SM: Oh, I see. HH: That he and sister, from those Koreans. SM: I see. So his family . . . HH: Without parents. SM: Oh, he came with his brothers and sisters? HH: Alone. No. Just the one sister and alone. SM: Oh. So he’s originally from North Korea. HH: Yes. And war orphan. 18

SM: Oh. HH: He was only fourteen. SM: Oh. So his parents were killed then? HH: Would you [unclear] if you can listen? SM: Yes. [Recording interruption] SM: What about your husband’s family? HH: He said they all were evacuated together. SM: Oh. HH: But they were very latest group for evacuation and they did not have any transportation to come down to South. And there were only two seats available in a car, and his parents wanted to save him because he was the only son of the family, and his third older sister, whose husband was in South Korea, so they wanted to send her down. And then they were going to follow. SM: I see. HH: But they couldn’t come. They couldn’t make it ever after that. SM: So he’s . . . HH: So he didn’t meet his family since 1950. SM: Oh. He’s had no contact with them? HH: No. It’s impossible. SM: So they probably are dead or not? HH: Yes. His parents are over seventy years old right now. SM: Oh. HH: So he believes because of malnutrition and all those pressures and . . . because Communists should know that his parents are . . . his children are evacuated to South, which is going to be minus points for the parents. 19

SM: Oh, yes. HH: So they could have all kinds of bad times from the Communists. So he does not believe they are alive. SM: I see. HH: But he has his sisters. SM: I see. HH: And all the relatives up there. SM: I see. So only his one sister escaped with him. HH: And she died. SM: Oh, she died. HH: And another oldest sister was in the South. SM: I see. HH: So she . . . she’s only survivor. SM: I see. HH: Was in the South even before the war. So . . . SM: I see. She’s still in Korea then? HH: Yes. Oh, and during the evacuation his second sister, second oldest sister’s son, who was seven at that time, seven years old. SM: Oh. HH: Could sit on his lap during the evacuation, so he’s alive. SM: Oh. I see. HH: And he was in an orphanage until he became sixteen years old. SM: Oh. HH: That year we married. 20

SM: I see. HH: So we took him to our home and lived together until he became self-supporting and married. SM: I see. HH: So I kept him at my home. SM: I see. How old was he then when he came to live with you? HH: Oh, three years younger than me. [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] HH: So he was twenty-one. SM: Oh, he was already grown. HH: Yes, he was already grown up. SM: Yes. HH: High school student at that time. SM: Oh, yes. Well, so then did you go to the university in Seoul? HH: Yes. My parents did not have enough money. But they . . . most of Korean parents believe their children should be scholars. SM: Yes. HH: Or should have very higher education. SM: That’s an important value. HH: Oh! The most. Yes. SM: In the Confucian tradition or . . .? HH: I don’t know. SM: Anyway, Korean. 21

HH: Could be. Yes, it could be Confucian tradition. I don’t know. But all those . . . I have to say most of those parents are eager to send their children to higher education. SM: Yes. HH: And have a better chance. So I was sent to the university and he wanted me to become a lawyer. SM: Your father wanted you to? HH: My father wanted. My mother does not have her own opinion. In Korea, usually father has the voice but mother doesn’t. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. Did she maybe have one she didn’t express? [Chuckles] HH: She always follows father. SM: I see. That’s the duty of them. HH: Yes. SM: Yes. HH: And father was main disciplinarian also. SM: I see. But he wanted you to be a lawyer. HH: Yes. He believed I was very bright. SM: Yes. HH: And mature. So he believed it is going to be the best job for me. SM: Yes. HH: At that time Korea had only one woman lawyer. SM: Oh! HH: And still we have one or two. SM: Oh . . . HH: So not many women lawyers in Korea. 22

SM: That’s interesting. HH: Yes. And . . . and I think last year of high school I found out I am not a person who sits down and reads the books and studies hard for passing those . . . those exams to become a lawyer. It’s very, very hard in Korea to become a lawyer. SM: That is, yes. HH: No, no. I found out . . . SM: Oh, you mean especially in Korea. HH: Yes. SM: Oh. HH: In the U.S. just . . . many people could become lawyers. At the law school they could pass the exams. SM: Yes. HH: But in Korea it’s not true. SM: Oh. HH: If a thousand students graduate from law school, less than ten percent could become lawyers. SM: Oh. HH: The exam is awfully, awfully hard. SM: I see. So you decided to take a different kind of course? HH: And then I recalled during the evacuation I saw so many babies and children were crying in the snow, abandoned or lost. And I just couldn’t watch them because of guilty. I was too young to help those all children. SM: Yes. HH: And I . . . I just . . . shouted to myself that I will help you later on but not now. I’m to hurry and too much . . . I have no power to help them. SM: This was in high school you saw them? 23

HH: No, that was the fifth grade, in grade school, during the evacuation. SM: Oh, yes. HH: I had that strong mind, and then I recalled that in high school, the last year. SM: I see. HH: Then I asked the people, what kind of school I should go to if I like to help children. And they said social work. SM: Yes. HH: So I took the social work as a profession and my father was very disappointed because that was a very new field. Even not a new field at that time, there were people understood the social work. Social worker was the orphanage director. SM: Oh. HH: Orphanage superintendent, which was not very respected. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: But I believed there are some professions in social work. SM: Yes. Were there training schools in Korea for social work? HH: Oh, yes. SM: Already in the 1950s. HH: Oh, yes. Already, yes. SM: I see. HH: Ewha Women’s University. SM: Which university? HH: Ewha Women’s University. SM: Oh. HH: Ewha is E-W-H-A. 24

SM: Yes. HH: University, Woman’s University. SM: How do you spell that? HH: Woman. Women. SM: Oh! I see. Yes. Ewha Women’s . . . HH: University. SM: I see. HH: There were eight thousand students there for school. SM: [Gasps] Oh. HH: [Chuckles] Only women, unmarried. SM: These were all for social work studies? HH: No, no, no, no, no. [Chuckles] SM: No, the whole university. HH: Oh, yes. SM: Yes, okay. HH: Yes, eight or nine different colleges and how many departments I do not remember. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. I see. HH: Social work was a very minor department. [Chuckles] SM: This is in Seoul, is it? HH: Yes, in Seoul. SM: Yes. HH: Very pretty. 25

SM: Oh. HH: Beautiful school. And one of the oldest ones. SM: Oh, is it? HH: Yes. SM: Is that a state university or private? HH: It’s private. SM: Private. So is that a church . . .? HH: It was founded by a Methodist missionary from the U.S. SM: Oh, I see. Hmmm. HH: But it’s totally Korean. SM: Yes. And it was when you went to it. HH: No, even when I went it was still totally Korean. That was the beginning, it is over eighty years old . . . oh, eighty-seven years old, the school. SM: Oh. Oh, really an old school then. HH: Yes. Yes, very old school. SM: I see. What year was that, that you went to . . .? HH: 1958, I believe. SM: I see. So . . . HH: Oh, this school only pretty much unmarried single girls. [Chuckles] SM: Oh. HH: Not older. [Chuckles] In U.S., just any age you can go to school. SM: Everything has changed, right. HH: But in Korea, no. Just straight from high school to the college. 26

SM: I see. HH: Yes. Graduate school you can go even after married. SM: Yes. HH: But not for undergraduate. SM: Yes. Everyone lived in the dormitories? HH: No, no. From home. SM: No, you lived at home. HH: Yes. SM: I see. HH: Yes, we have dormitories but that’s for the students who were from rural areas. SM: Oh, I see. So those who lived in the city went each day. HH: Yes. SM: I see. Yes. So that was how many years for you? HH: Four years. SM: Four years. But that was completely under Korean administration when you went. HH: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. SM: I see. So then you started to work as a social worker after this then? HH: Oh, no. The jobs were not available right away and I married two months after the graduation. And then after my first daughter became eleven months old I started to work as a social worker. SM: I see. HH: That was an inter-country adoption agency, so I started as an adoption agency adoption worker. SM: International? 27

HH: International social service, which was doing inter-country adoption. SM: I see. So was that . . . that was a sort of . . . well, it was all nationalities that involved, or was it run by Americans or . . .? HH: Yes, run by Americans. Yes. SM: I see. HH: And we sent racially mixed children to the U.S. SM: I see. HH: Only racially mixed background children. SM: Yes. HH: Korean Caucasian, Korean Black, Korean . . . other races. SM: I see. And these were the results of the war, I take it. HH: Yes, as a result of the war. That was 1964. SM: Oh, 1964. HH: Yes. SM: When did they start sending those children? In the early 1960s or earlier? HH: No, 1954 was the starting. SM: Oh. Just after the war. HH: Yes, right after the war. SM: I see. What kind of numbers do you think were sent? Were there hundreds or thousands or . . .? HH: My agency sent over a hundred every year. And there were four more agencies, four or five more agencies. SM: I see. HH: Plus individual adoptions. Like one GI could pick up one child and bring back to the U.S. 28

SM: Oh. HH: So those numbers we never could count. SM: I see. And the other agencies maybe each sent about a hundred a year, too, or . . .? HH: More. More than a hundred. SM: Oh. HH: Yes. SM: I mean each one would send more? HH: Yes. Yes. SM: I see. Hmmm. So there were quite a few of those children in the . . . HH: Yes. SM: I see. And so then you came from this agency to be . . . training here or . . .? HH: Oh, no, no, no, no. SM: No, that’s . . . far ahead. [Chuckles] HH: [Chuckles] After . . . after three and a half years I went into in-country adoption agency. Korean children for Korean families. SM: Korean children for Korean families. What was the name of the . . .? HH: Ah . . . Christian Adoption Program of Korea. It was founded by Americans also that time. SM: I see. Was that under a church or . . .? HH: Yes. It was under a church. SM: Oh, yes. Christian. HH: Christian Reform Church. SM: I see. Christian Reform . . . HH: There are many Christian Reform churches in Michigan. [Unclear]. 29

SM: Oh. Did that used to be called Dutch Reform? HH: Yes, Dutch Reform. That’s right. SM: Oh, yes. I see. HH: Yes, there are three or four in Minnesota. SM: I see. Yes, when I was a young girl I knew some people of that church. HH: Yes. Those people do a pretty good job for those in developing countries. SM: I see. HH: They sent a relief group first, missionaries. And then those people reported back they needed a social worker for the country. SM: I see. HH: So they sent an adoption social worker to Korea. SM: Yes. HH: And built in-country adoption. Why all those Korean children should be adopted intercountries. SM: I see. Yes. HH: So it was beginning. So my agency was the pioneer of Korean adoption in Korea. SM: I see. HH: That is history background of Korean adoption. SM: Yes. HH: Yes. SM: That’s really a very good idea. Were adoptions common in Korea before this? HH: No, it was not. SM: It wasn’t part of the tradition.


HH: That’s why those [unclear] worked. Traditionally, there are several kinds of adoptions in Korea. Like a thousand years ago we still had like abandonment. SM: Yes. HH: Like a baby usually was abandoned for a childless couple’s home. SM: Oh, I see. HH: And those couples adopted that child. That kind of adoption we had. And . . . SM: That would just be left at their doorstep, or was [unclear]? HH: Back then we had the taboo that that family should adopt that child. SM: I see. And they would pick a childless couple then for this. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: I see. HH: That was a small enough society so people could know who needed children. SM: Sure. Yes. And so they usually did take the child in then. HH: Oh, yes. That is . . . yes, we had a taboo. That child should be kept, not rejected. SM: Yes. I see. HH: No matter if they use as a servant or they raise as their own child, they have to keep. SM: Right. They take care of it . . . HH: Yes. SM: Was that part of any religious belief, that taboo? HH: Ah . . . SM: Or just a custom? HH: Could be. SM: Yes. Would that be part of Buddhist? 31

HH: Oh, no, no. SM: Not Buddhist. HH: No, no. Not a Buddhist. I think still Korean tradition. SM: Just the [unclear]. HH: It is not any relation with the . . . there could be some Confucianism . . . SM: Are there indigenous Korean religions aside from Buddhist and . . .? HH: Like if your nephew and nieces become orphans and uncles and aunts have to take care of. SM: Yes. HH: So if these children . . . SM: Are abandoned. HH: Do not have any parents, then childless couples should take care of, so all those kind of ideas would be . . . SM: Yes. Would that fit with Confucian ideas? HH: I . . . SM: Sort of a . . . HH: No, no. Even before Confucianism we did have such stories. SM: Oh. Okay. HH: So, no. No. SM: It was before that. HH: It’s just a Korean tradition. Yes. SM: Yes. HH: And after Confucianism we had a different kind of adoption. The first son has to continue family line and name. SM: Oh. 32

HH: So if a first son of the family does not have a biological son, the second or third brothers have to give their first son to the oldest brother to adopt. SM: I see. HH: That we call family adoption or relative adoption. SM: Yes. HH: To continue family name and ancestors worship. SM: I see. HH: So that was . . . we do not believe that was a good idea. So Confucianism really contributed the wrong kind of concept of adoption. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. [Chuckles] HH: So our abandonment adoption was an early Korean tradition. SM: Yes. I don’t know of that being true in other East Asian countries. HH: And Confucianism didn’t come until . . . Ye Dynasty. Y-E. SM: Yes. HH: Ye Dynasty was before Korean indepen . . . the Republic of Korea. So which was not even a thousand years, it’s . . . which could be only seven hundred years or six hundred years. SM: Oh, yes. Oh, sure. That’s interesting. HH: So adoption of orphan child or unrelated child was a very, very new idea. SM: I see. HH: Especially through adoption agency. [Chuckles] SM: Right. HH: Not abandoned on your door. SM: Yes. I see. And was that readily taken, the idea of this? HH: No, no. It took a long time. 33

SM: [Chuckles] HH: In 1973 our government picked up this idea. SM: Oh. HH: And they gave order to inter-country adoption agencies. You have to do in-country adoptions. SM: Oh. Yes. HH: And now since 1976, even government gives “assistance” to each inter-country adoption agency. You have to place so many children, then you can place so many to another country. SM: I see. HH: 1981 they are going to stop entire inter-country adoption. SM: Yes. Yes, because they would lose so many of their children that way. HH: Children. [Chuckles] SM: People [unclear]. HH: Okay. My parents sent all their children to college except one girl, who married and now has two beautiful girls. These are her girls. SM: Oh. HH: [Chuckles] SM: That’s a very nice picture. HH: Yes. SM: Yes. She’s your sister then? HH: No, sister’s children. SM: But I mean . . . yes, your sister’s children. HH: Yes. SM: Yes. 34

HH: And she was the third girl. And because her older brother, who is our oldest brother . . . I mean oldest son of the family, had to go to the college the same year. SM: Oh. HH: And it’s . . . it’s . . . SM: Too hard to send two then. HH: And she has to give up . . . she had to give up . . . SM: Yes. HH: Because son comes first. SM: Yes. HH: So she was the only one who did not have a college education. Otherwise, all six children had a college education. And because of those educational expenses, my parents became very, very poor. SM: Yes. HH: And he retired from work . . . no, not he retired. He could not afford being working at union. He resigned that. Then I was in second year of the college. SM: Oh. HH: Then he wanted to have his own business, tailoring shop. And it was not successful. SM: Oh. HH: And so he had a lot of debts, personal debts. And interest is pretty high. So he had to sell his house and move into smaller, and smaller, and smaller house. SM: Oh. HH: I think he moved five or six times. SM: Oh. HH: After I married. SM: Hmmm. 35

HH: And from junior high, parents have to pay school tuition. It’s not free education. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And college expense is more than I think in the U.S. SM: Oh . . . HH: So it’s just an unbelievable amount of money. So you can believe how much . . . how they were sacrificing for the children. SM: Yes. HH: These children never became successful. [Chuckles] Like if we say successful it means become very rich or very famous. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And none of them became famous or rich. SM: Yes. HH: But they just sacrificed for all their lives. SM: Yes. But the children . . . HH: It’s not only my parents . . . SM: But all . . . HH: More. SM: Yes, most. Hmmm. But most of them have good jobs? Or, you know . . . HH: Most of them are girls [chuckles] so . . . SM: Most are girls, so that makes a difference. Yes. HH: Yes. I think better jobs than my father. SM: Yes. So do most of the children help to support him then? HH: No, we never. We don’t. [Chuckles] 36

SM: Yes. HH: Just my oldest brother. SM: Oh. HH: Takes care of my parents. SM: That’s his duty then. HH: That’s his duty. SM: Yes. HH: Like we give gifts and share those things but not for supporting. SM: I see. HH: That’s why first son is important for the family. SM: Oh, yes. Right. HH: Yes. SM: Does he live in Korea then? HH: Sure. SM: Yes. HH: All of them are in Korea. SM: Oh, all of them live there. HH: My second sister married. She has one daughter and she does not have any other children. And then is oldest brother and he has two sons. SM: Yes. HH: And then third sister, she has two daughters and she does not plan any more. So which means that . . . . [Recording interruption] SM: What were some of the factors that led to your coming to the United States? 37

HH: That relates with my job and my marriage. SM: I see. HH: First of all, I wanted to have further education in the U.S. but it never worked out because I married and I have children. SM: Yes. HH: In 1971 I was selected by the U.S. Embassy and sponsored by the . . . your government. SM: The State Department? HH: No, not state, federal. SM: The federal government? HH: Yes. SM: But was it maybe the State Department in the federal government? I don’t mean the state of Minnesota. HH: It’s the U.S . . . .U.S. program. It’s international. SM: A United State cultural exchange or something? HH: Yes, it could be. SM: Yes. HH: Anyway, it was sponsored by the U.S. SM: Yes. HH: And came up for the teachers . . . no, youth leaders and social workers. SM: Oh. HH: We call CIA..No, not CIA! [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] HH: CIP. Yes. [Chuckles] CIP program. 38

SM: Oh. HH: Council of International Programs for youth leaders and social workers in the world. SM: Oh, I see. Yes. HH: That was an exchange. SM: I see. HH: Mainly, U.S. sponsors those people and bring over to the U.S. and give training and send them back to their own countries. SM: I see. That’s in other countries besides Korea, too, you think? HH: Yes. SM: Yes. HH: Oh, sure. Thirty countries. SM: Oh. I see. HH: So I came to TCIP, we call the Twin Cities International Program. SM: Oh. HH: And I applied to that program and I had to pass several exams and tests and interviews in Korea. SM: Yes. HH: And because there were many candidates. SM: Oh. HH: And I was selected in 1971. SM: Selected for the Twin Cities, particularly. I see. HH: Yes, for the Twin Cities because the program matches the person to different areas. SM: Oh. Yes. HH: And they found I am in adoption, particularly. And adoption is the best in the Twin Cities. 39

SM: Is that the best? HH: Yes. SM: Oh. Oh. HH: And then they matched with the Children’s Home. SM: I see. But this is a federal government program. HH: Yes, it’s not state. SM: Yes. I see. So did your family come or just . . .? HH: Now it’s not anymore federal government. SM: Oh. HH: Federal does not give money for that. SM: I see. HH: Since 1972, they only give money for the other countries. India or South American countries, but they do not consider Korea needs help. SM: Oh. So it’s just . . . HH: So an individual person could come by their own support. SM: Oh. I see. HH: Then if they come, the arrangements, the agency and living allowances are given by TCIP, Twin Cities’ office. SM: I see. HH: So still a part . . . partially sponsored by U.S. agency. SM: Yes. HH: When I came over, I was fully covered. SM: I see. 40

HH: So I was here for four months for the training, and a month for the traveling. SM: And you were trained right here in this organization? HH: Yes. We spent like two months in UM [University of Minnesota]. SM: Oh. HH: And two months in Children’s Home. SM: I see. One month at the UM. HH: No, two months. SM: Two months. Excuse me. Two months at UM. HH: But it’s changing every year. Program is changing. SM: That was in their social work school? HH: Yes. SM: I see. Okay. HH: But we did not learn social work, we learned all about the economy, politics, about the U.S. SM: I see. Well, that must have been quite helpful in your work now then. HH: Yes. SM: And then two months here at the Society. HH: Yes, Children’s Home Society for two months. And I stayed in four different host families. SM: Oh. HH: That was the most fun. SM: I see. HH: Yes. SM: So you just came alone then for this period of training? HH: Oh, sure. Yes. 41

SM: Yes. HH: My daughter was eight years old at that time. No, seven. Seven years old. SM: Oh. Yes. Oh, yes. Hmmm. So are you still in connection with these homes that you stayed at? [Chuckles] HH: Oh, yes. Sure. Especially with one home, I’m very close. SM: Oh. HH: Even we bought the house nearby in the same Highland Park. [Chuckles] SM: I see. HH: Yes. SM: Well, that must have helped quite a lot then when settling here. HH: Oh, yes, for the moving. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. That’s a good program then. HH: Because I stayed at that family’s for almost two months. Two of the months I stayed at three different homes and for the rest of two months I stayed with this family. SM: Oh. This was the last one you stayed at? HH: Yes, last one. SM: Oh. HH: And they are quite rich. SM: I see. HH: And I talked about Korean War and Communists and those fears and they said, you have to move down or move up. SM: Yes. HH: But no, not because of their saying so . . . I . . . SM: Yes. 42

HH: My husband was a refugee from North Korea so he always wanted to immigrate. SM: I see. He had wanted to even before. HH: Yes. And he had a job in Vietnam for three years. SM: Oh. HH: And never visited back to Korea during those years. SM: Oh, he had a job with the Americans doing that? HH: Yes. Yes. Many, many Korean men went to Vietnam for better jobs, better money. SM: Oh. HH: And then he came back and he decided we should move if there is a way. SM: I see. HH: And so I contacted Children’s Home and they could afford me. 1975. SM: So you initiated the contact then, with the Children’s Home? HH: Yes. And Children’s Home also started Korean adoption. SM: Oh, they had just started that? HH: No, they started in 1972 . . . no, 1970. But very fewer, like twenty, thirty children a year. SM: Oh. HH: But from 1975 they were bringing a lot more, over a hundred. SM: I see. HH: So now over two hundred sixty a year. SM: After 1975 they started much larger numbers. HH: Yes, much larger numbers. SM: I see. 43

HH: So now it’s the main number of adoption. [Chuckles] SM: Is it for the Society? HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Oh. HH: It’s the main. SM: So did you taking this job influence that? Or they hired you because they were increasing in Korean adoption? Or both ways? [Chuckles] HH: Yes. Both ways. Both ways, I think. [Chuckles] SM: I see. So now Koreans are their main group. HH: Yes. SM: And now they’re not mixed so much there. HH: All Korean. SM: Yes, they’ve . . . HH: No. No mixed. Maybe a couple of children in the year, but mainly for Korean children. SM: I see. And so what was your husband’s line of work when he came? And was he able to find work comparable to that? HH: It was very difficult. It was very difficult to find a proper job that he liked to have for the first two . . . one and a half years. So he even did all kinds of blue . . . blue collar work. SM: I see. HH: And still blue collar manufacturing, but he’s supervising. SM: I see, so he moved up within that company. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Yes. Does he want to move into a different kind of work or does he see his future in moving up or . . .? HH: Yes, in the future he’d like to have his own business like in Korea. 44

SM: I see. Oh, what line of business was in then? HH: Oh . . . manufacturing. SM: Yes. So he’d like to get into his own company. HH: Yes. But I don’t know. [Chuckles] SM: It’s hard. [Chuckles] HH: It’s hard to say. SM: Yes. How has your family—different members of your family—adjusted to American life? The children and the parents and . . .? HH: Okay. Not only my family; it will be same for any immigrant. SM: Yes. HH: People, our friends, families, all ourselves, believed it will be much, much easier for us to adjust in this culture because my husband had a lot of life experience with other countries and Americans. And I also had a lot of experience with Americans and visited America before we moved. SM: Yes. HH: And both speak some English. So we believed it is going to be very, very small. And in some ways it was, because I had a job from the first date I came over. SM: That helped, I’m sure. [Chuckles] HH: Oh, yes. And not blue collar. SM: Yes. Yes. HH: And my husband could drive from the first date we came over. Most Koreans cannot drive because we do not drive in Korea. SM: Yes. HH: And he could speak English, he could go here and there to apply for jobs. So compared to other people, it was quite . . . better. SM: Yes. 45

HH: But emotional adjustment and family life, toughness is the same like in other families. Because of pressure and fear and scared, all those emotional feelings become . . . to puzzle the family life. SM: Yes. HH: Become upset easily and could argue. SM: Yes. It’s such a big change [unclear]. HH: And many families are shocked because there are too many marital problems. SM: Oh, yes. HH: One thing I believe. In Korea husband and wife does not spend much time together. SM: Oh. Yes. HH: Even invitations, husband usually was invited alone and wife was invited alone, never accompanied together, unless you visit your parents or relatives. SM: Yes. HH: But here you go all the time together. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: So never . . . like we never saw such a weakness of a husband or weakness of wife before, but it is obvious now. And spend too much time together. They do not know how to communicate. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And also in Korea, the wife should not talk back or shouldn’t be against, but here, the wife has to. Wife works, too. I have been working throughout my life, marriage life. SM: Oh, yes. HH: So it’s not very different, but most other homes, wives did not work. And now they have to work and they have to share responsibility. So a husband is not the only authority any longer or dignity. SM: Yes. 46

HH: Which makes a lot of trouble. SM: Yes, I can imagine. It’s a big change. HH: That could be the same for any Asian families. SM: Sure. Right. Is there much inter-marriage at all? Or . . . it hasn’t been . . . I mean, do most people come married already? HH: Yes. SM: Yes. HH: That’s right. SM: Yes, most of the new immigrants would . . . HH: Yes. SM: Yes. What about the children? How do they adjust? HH: Hmmm. They . . . the first six months they cried most days and they wanted to go back. And they missed so much about their relatives, friends, and house there. SM: Oh, yes. HH: But they said, all of a sudden, after six months, they could listen to other people talking. SM: Oh. [Chuckles] HH: I mean, they could understand some English. SM: Yes. HH: And then they began to make friends. And after one year, they said America is better. SM: [Chuckles] HH: So after three and a half years, they are very Americanized in the sense of adjustment, I mean. SM: Yes. HH: But still, I believe they are under the conflict, too, because of . . . value systems and parent discipline. 47

SM: Yes. HH: And all kinds of things. SM: Yes. HH: Like my daughter has straight As from school. But national test score shows she’s still behind. SM: Oh. HH: I didn’t see other American children’s test scores. SM: [Chuckles] Right. HH: But her math was eighty percent, which was very high, wasn’t it? SM: Yes, that’s very good. HH: National test shows eighty. But English still shows under fifty or fifty. SM: But she’s only been here for three years, so it’s not bad. HH: But still, for her, it’s very discouraging. SM: Oh, yes. HH: It’s a disappointment. SM: Yes. But she’ll surely go up. HH: And I did it, too. SM: She had to catch up so much. HH: I know . . . some [unclear], but not exactly. SM: Yes. HH: But so that . . . it’s still okay in school, SM: Sure. HH: She is a very excellent student. She studies very hard. 48

SM: Oh, does she? HH: And he does, too. So both are okay in school, and making friends. She only wants to make popular friends. She is popular. SM: [Chuckles] HH: So she wants to make popular friends, too. SM: Yes. HH: I have no idea why she wants to have only popular friends, but she does. [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] Oh, that’s interesting. HH: Yes. Because I wanted to make friends who are sincere, when I was young, and still do. SM: Oh, yes. HH: Who were very honest, sincere, truthful. SM: Oh, yes. So her . . . what she looks for in friends is different from you looked for. HH: It’s popularity. Yes. Popular. SM: Oh, that’s interesting. HH: So I said . . . I asked her, why those children are popular in school? I don’t know, but they have many friends. SM: [Chuckles] They’re more outgoing, probably. HH: Yes. And I’m checking always their families. SM: Yes. HH: And what the fathers are doing and if mother is working or what is their grade in school. SM: Yes. HH: I certainly do not want if she makes all friends who are under grader. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. 49

HH: Than her. But most of those friends are earning good grades. According to her, I never check. [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] It is a little hard to check that. HH: But with another school . . . they just moved into a public school. They used to go to private school before. So at the other school I found out they were pretty okay children. SM: Sure. HH: And this school, I am checking if they are smoking. SM: Oh, yes. She’s in what . . .? HH: And my daughter says they are not smoking. SM: Yes. HH: And I trust her. SM: Yes. HH: And my daughter has complained, mother, father, there’s no . . . all the time too hard. Like she wants to go to a movie with her friends, and we usually check what kind of movies and say no. And she wants to go to overnight slumber parties so often, and we say no unless we know their family. And we seldom know her friend’s family. SM: Oh, yes. Yes. HH: Because we have no social communication. So she just . . . I’m going to be independent when I become college, eighteen years old. That really bothers us. SM: Hmmm. I can see how that would lead to certain tensions and so on. HH: Yes. And she sometimes, many times, says why or no, which really is not the word we never used when we were young. SM: [Chuckles] HH: And my husband is upset often with the older one, because he doesn’t like her attitudes many times. SM: Oh, yes. HH: Most times I understand except a couple of times a month. [Chuckles] 50

SM: [Chuckles] HH: But he is more upset. SM: Well, she’s at a difficult age, in any case. HH: Yes. Yes, very difficult. SM: How old did you say she was? HH: Fifteen. SM: Fifteen, oh, yes, she [unclear]. Especially between two cultures and so on. HH: Yes. Yes. And how good English she speaks, she still has a lot of trouble understanding. SM: Yes. HH: So she says why didn’t we immigrate before, when she was younger. SM: [Chuckles] HH: Then it could be better. SM: Hmmm. Does she invite her friends home quite a lot? HH: Yes. She invites her American friends. SM: She feels good about that then? HH: Oh, yes. She’s very, very popular. SM: Yes. HH: She is invited too often. [Chuckles] That’s my complaining. SM: [Chuckles] I see. Well, it sounds like she’s doing pretty well. HH: The children are doing all okay. SM: Yes. Is it different for your son? HH: My son is still young. The problem with my son, he is losing Korean and speaks more English. 51

SM: Oh, yes. HH: That is a real problem. We try to . . . not to . . . we never speak English at home. But right now, to let him understand, we have to use words in English. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: Because he does not understand. SM: Oh, I see. But your daughter retains her Korean. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Yes, because she was older. HH: She is perfect. And she’s writing back and forth with Korean friends. SM: Oh, she still has contacts then. HH: Oh, and also we go to Korean church, so she has a lot of Korean friends, too. SM: Oh, yes. Yes. But your son doesn’t have as many Korean friends or . . .? HH: He goes to Korean church but at his age children speak English. SM: Oh, yes. How old is he? HH: He is eight. SM: Oh, sure. But her friends in the Korean church speak Korean, is that right? HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Oh, yes. So the older children are more tied in with the Korean culture then. HH: Yes. SM: Oh, yes. That could be quite a difference. Your son speaks always English with his Korean friends? HH: Mostly English. SM: Oh. Is that something pretty disturbing to you and your husband? That you would like to have him retain the Korean language more or . . .? 52

HH: Yes, we believe as long as their parents are Korean, as long as they were born in Korea, they have to . . . it’s better for them to keep. SM: Sure. HH: Because it will be difficult to learn later on. SM: Right. HH: And how they can communicate with the parents. SM: Right. Do you take some trips back or anticipate taking some? [Unclear] children [unclear]. HH: I did. But we hope we can take them back sometime. SM: Oh. Are conditions pretty stable now in Korea? HH: In Korea, yes. Economically it is very, very highly developed right now. But inflation is just awful. SM: Yes. HH: And I feel if my son has to stay three to six months in Korea right now, he can pick up right away. SM: Oh, yes. HH: But how we can keep six months in Korea . . . SM: That’s a long time. HH: And two months is going to be the longest or even a month. SM: Right. So he would you visit your relatives or something. HH: I do not want him to . . . yes, I don’t want to leave him alone. SM: No. HH: Even with my parents. SM: Right. Yes. That would be another big adjustment. HH: Yes. It would be too much for him. 53

SM: Right. Well, it sounds like they’re doing well though. HH: Yes. SM: But with certain inevitable problems, I guess. HH: Like they . . . they are saying [unclear] if they should be adopted and could have a better life. SM: [Laughter] HH: Because discipline and values are very reasonable. SM: Yes. HH: They’re thinking mother and father are not reasonable. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: One day my son asked me, “Mom, can I go outside for . . .?” No. “Can I take my sled to school tomorrow?” I said no. “See, sister, she always says no.” SM: [Chuckles] HH: They wanted to prove to each other, mother says no all the time. [Chuckles] SM: Well, I could see it’s an additional problem. First, American children have some of the same problem, but then added on to it is the cultural. HH: Added on. Yes. SM: Generational things. HH: And during summertime he wants to play with bare feet outside, and I always say no, have shoes and socks. SM: [Chuckles] HH: He’s the only guy in the neighborhood who has to have socks and shoes outside. [Chuckles] SM: I see. HH: Because I worry he used to not to have bare feet so his feet are pretty soft. 54

SM: [Unclear]. HH: [Unclear] compared to American children. SM: Yes. Yes. HH: So if anything happens, that’s not fair. So . . . SM: Right. HH: Yes, like beaches, it’s okay. But . . . SM: Yes, and the beach is different. HH: Not just outside. SM: Yes. HH: All kinds of things outside. SM: Yes. HH: I mean, we are more protective. Protective. SM: Yes. And that’s characteristic, I think, of Asian parents. HH: Yes. And we didn’t have much outside sports or exercise before. SM: I see. Yes. HH: That’s why we are afraid to send . . . I asked my husband if I could send my son and daughter for cross country skiing in the neighbor park, Highland Park. SM: Yes. HH: He said no, not this year. SM: Oh. Yes. HH: So we are very narrow minded about sending for the [unclear] activities. SM: Right. What about if you went with them? Or you don’t enjoy outdoor sports? HH: I never did. So I do not enjoy that. 55

SM: Yes. And Minnesotans are very enthusiastic. [Chuckles] HH: Yes. Yes. Unless they cannot enjoy to live in Minnesota. SM: Yes. HH: So they have to learn all those. We sent my daughter for ski training. SM: Oh, did you? HH: She already went two or three times. SM: Oh, in the park, was it? HH: Oh, no. It’s Afton View, it’s a school program. SM: I see. Yes. I see, oh, the school takes children out for that. HH: Yes. Yes. It’s pretty expensive but we decided she’s old enough and . . . SM: Sure. Yes. HH: And her first experience, she said, can I postpone the next time? I said, no, you have to go. SM: Oh. HH: Because she . . . SM: A little afraid to ski? HH: Yes, was a little afraid. SM: Yes. You should come and visit us in the country. [Chuckles] HH: [Chuckles] SM: For your children to ski. [Chuckles] They’re going to be Minnesotans. [Chuckles] HH: [Chuckles] Yes. Yes. My son didn’t want to go cross country skiing, but I saidyou’re your life is in Minnesota, you have to enjoy living here, and then you have to go cross country skiing. And he said . . . he agreed yes. SM: Oh, your son didn’t want to do skiing. HH: He does not. He does not. 56

SM: I see. HH: He is not a very sporty child. SM: Yes. I see. Yes, some are and some aren’t. But he might change, too. HH: Yes. SM: Well, maybe we could just talk a little bit about the Korean community. HH: Yes. SM: And how you see yourselves in relation . . . HH: Oh, can I say . . . can I say how Minnesotans welcomed us? SM: Yes. Please. HH: When we first came over, of course, Children’s Home people including directors and supervisors and social workers . . . SM: Yes. HH: Were very, very kind. They and my host mother, host family, they were the main people who helped us to settle down. SM: Yes. HH: Like my director. His family, whole family came to help put and moved all those luggages to the apartment. SM: Oh. Oh, my. HH: And my host mother rented an apartment for us. And bought the food in the refrigerator and brought all those plastic or paper dishes for us so we could eat the first night. SM: Oh, that was a help. HH: And like that host mother took us one week to buy the car. SM: Oh. HH: And my director and his wife visited with us every Saturday, how we are doing. 57

SM: Oh. HH: And they invited us every weekend. SM: Oh, that’s nice. HH: So we were very busy and happy for the first six months. SM: Oh, yes. HH: And I started . . . we decided to stay home at least for two weeks. SM: [Chuckles] HH: So we didn’t work for two weeks, then after two weeks I started to work. SM: Yes. HH: And my husband started to work also. And for the first six months we really didn’t have any . . . [unclear] sometimes with American friends. They were very, very kind. SM: Yes. HH: And gave us showers. So I never bought dishes or bowls and those things in the kitchen. SM: [Chuckles] Yes. HH: They brought most of those. And after three months we bought the house. SM: Oh. HH: We only stayed three months in an apartment. SM: I see. HH: Because we were well-off people in Korea, we could have down payment right away. SM: Oh, yes. So that was a help then to have house. HH: That was a big help because that year the house was not in good sale, nobody . . . not many people bought a house in 1975. SM: Oh. [Unclear – both speaking at once] 58

HH: [Chuckles] SM: Yes. HH: Very good year. SM: Now it’s different. [Chuckles] HH: [Chuckles] Even next year, 1976, 1977 was awful. SM: I see. HH: So we moved into Highland Park and after 1977 we became to be acquainted with the Korean community. Through the churches . . . SM: Oh. At first you weren’t in touch with it as much. More of the . . . HH: Well, we went to church but, no, we didn’t have real close friends. SM: I see. HH: So we had to make friends. SM: Yes. HH: So from 1977, after two years, we . . . my husband has a very nice friends groups. SM: Yes. HH: Became very close, eight, nine families get together once a month, regularly, and talk and eat and share. SM: Yes. HH: And from 1978 my husband became a very dedicated worker at the church. SM: Oh. HH: So church has become a very important part of our family life. Our faith was not growing but I feel it is worth going. [Chuckles] SM: It serves as a real purpose [unclear]. Were you part of a church in Korea? Or this was after you came? 59

HH: I was, but not he was. SM: You were. I see. HH: And then just for matching I have less contact with American friends except these agency people. SM: Oh. HH: Like I do not have time to invite American friends over to my home often. SM: Yes. HH: And the most social workers or agency people from Korea are visiting with children all over Minnesota, come stay in my home. SM: Oh, and these are Koreans? HH: Yes. Those are all Koreans. SM: Sure. HH: Agency directors, agency supervisors from Korea, or social workers from Korea or some other kind of people from Korea are coming to Minnesota for . . . SM: Yes. HH: Who just knew our names . . . even they do not know our names, it is really our friends. SM: [Laughter] Just because you’re Korean. So that takes a lot of your energy. HH: Oh, and money, too. SM: And money. [Chuckles] Yes [unclear]. HH: One year at least forty people sleep over. SM: That’s a lot. HH: [Unclear] three months. [Chuckles] SM: Especially when you’re working, too. HH: And that’s why we cannot invite many friends over. 60

SM: Yes. HH: But we still invite a lot of Korean friends plus newcomers. SM: Oh. Yes. HH: So we still invite a lot of people. SM: Sure. HH: But more Koreans, less Americans. Very sad. I’d like to invite . . . because American friends really like to taste Korean food. SM: Sure. HH: But just impossible, physically . . . SM: It’s a limit to what you can do. HH: Physically impossible. SM: Yes. HH: I almost invite every weekend, so I do not have the time. SM: Oh. [Sighs] That’s very exhausting. HH: Sure. SM: Yes. But that is important for the newcomers, I’m sure. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: But it’s hard to . . . HH: Not only me, I think many people are doing the same thing. SM: Yes. HH: But because of my work, I have more. [Chuckles] SM: Yes, more contacts with them. HH: Yes. 61

SM: Right. HH: Yes. SM: So gradually then you’ve had less relations with the American community. HH: Ah . . . SM: Not really so little, you’ve had work and so on, but . . . HH: Yes, but . . . yes, I feel so. SM: Yes. HH: I should cut down one side. [Chuckles] Because one person cannot have double time. SM: Right. And is this true of your husband, too, then? HH: Yes. It’s true. SM: Yes. HH: And he has less American friends than me, because of his work. SM: Oh. HH: Because of my work. SM: Does he work with Koreans? HH: No, no. It’s manufacturing. SM: I see. Yes. HH: It’s just for social . . . [Chuckles] SM: Yes, you have more friends. HH: Contact. SM: Yes. Right. Yes. Well, do you take part in a lot of the Korean organizations, too, besides the church’s? Or mainly in the church? I mean, what about Korean Association . . .? HH: Oh, my husband is a Korean Association board member. 62

SM: Oh, I see. HH: Board member of Korean Association. Yes, there are not organized activities in the Twin Cities. SM: There aren’t a lot? HH: Except Korean Association and churches, there are not. SM: Oh, there are not. Right. Yes. HH: Yes, like students have their own organization but I am not a student so I’m not . . . SM: Yes. Well, what does the Korean Association do? Do they have social activities? HH: Yes, some social activities. But mainly . . . SM: Yes. But not every weekend or something. HH: No, no. Mainly friendly relationship between Koreans. Like for Korea’s Independence Day we have a celebration and [unclear]. SM: I see. HH: And Christmas time or New Year’s Day we have a big celebration together and fundraising for the Korean school. SM: Oh, yes. Okay. Is that . . .? HH: And our telephone list books are made by them. There’s a lot of activities. SM: Sure. I see. And is there a Korean New Year’s? Or is that the Western one? HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Oh. Is that the same as Chinese New Year’s? HH: Like Chinese and Japanese, yes, same. SM: Oh, yes. HH: This year is 28th. SM: 28th of January. 63

HH: Yes. SM: I see. And then the doctors have one of their own. Is that for social purpose or more professional? HH: What? SM: The . . . is there a Korean doctors’ medical association? HH: Yes. Yes. Medical doctors’ association and a children’s association . . . SM: Yes. They don’t have separate social affairs, do they? HH: They should have. SM: They do. HH: Oh, yes. SM: Oh, yes. I see. HH: But for whole Korean is Korean Association. SM: Yes. I see. HH: The whole community. SM: Yes. Are there organizations for the elderly or separate groups like that? HH: Yes. Yes, there is a [unclear] organization. SM: Is there . . . do you know the name of that? HH: Sure. Minnesota Korean Elders Group. SM: I see. Minnesota Korean Elders Group. HH: Yes. SM: Yes. Is that pretty active? HH: Ah . . . yes. They just began last year. SM: Oh. 64

HH: And over sixty years old, ladies and gentlemen, grandparents, get together. SM: Yes. HH: And all those young people are inviting them often. SM: Oh, to their homes? HH: To their homes, to their activities and for lunch and then dinner. SM: Yes. HH: Quite often. SM: Does that help then? Because I imagine they might be the most lonely if they come here. HH: Yes. Yes. That helps, yes. SM: And if they don’t work and so on. HH: Yes. SM: But this helps with them. HH: Yes. SM: Do some of these organizations have any sort of mutual aid provisions or is that only on like a personal basis? HH: I think that Korean Association. SM: It does, like if one family were in emergency or something they would raise some money for them or . . .? HH: Yes. Yes. Usually, the pastor takes of their own church members. SM: Oh, the pastor. I see. HH: But if they are not church members then Korean Association, if anyone reports. SM: I see. So the church takes on the responsibility for welfare and . . . HH: A lot of. Oh, lots. Yes, even funerals, weddings, and newcomers’ job arrangements. SM: Oh. Oh. 65

HH: Pastors are doing a lot. SM: Employment and housing and . . . HH: Yes. Our pastor speaks English but it’s not very fluent, if [unclear] can be together than it could be better translation. SM: I see. So the church is really sort of the . . . HH: Oh, yes. SM: A real pastoral role then. HH: Oh, yes. Immigrant pastoral role is really, really difficult. SM: I see. Yes. Well, is there something in the church that’s distinctly Korean or is it simply a Christian . . .? HH: Distinctly Korean. SM: Yes, so the theology and so on is adapted a little or the service itself or . . .? HH: Just everything is Korean. SM: Everything is Korean. [Chuckles] HH: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. SM: But it is a Christian . . . thing. HH: Yes. That’s the same. SM: Hmmm. Let’s see what else I was going to ask you that I will regret forgetting. [Chuckles] HH: [Chuckles] SM: Oh! The war brides. Do they have their own organization? HH: I do not think they have any organization. SM: They don’t. HH: But they are very close together. 66

SM: Oh, they are close to each other. HH: Yes. SM: Are they more integrated into American mainstream or less? HH: I . . . don’t know. But many of these immigrants came because of those war brides. SM: Oh. So they brought relatives. HH: Many, many. SM: Yes. I see. Were they able to become citizens faster as war brides? HH: Yes. Yes. Three years. SM: Oh, yes. Three years. HH: Three years after marriage, yes. SM: I see. So they brought many of their relatives. HH: Yes. We have to be here five years, but they are shorter. SM: I see. Hmmm. So you think they brought more relatives maybe, or quicker anyway. HH: Yes. SM: Do they work mainly? HH: Yes. SM: But do they take part in these Korean Association get-togethers or . . .? HH: Some of them. Like [unclear] is active in the Korean community. SM: Yes. Yes, she [unclear]. HH: American . . . they are not war brides though. SM: No, no. They’re just intermarriage. HH: Yes. [Unclear] not very active. SM: Not very active. 67

HH: Like they came . . . many of them, I think almost eight of them came to my church. SM: Oh. HH: And after a few months they just quit. SM: They didn’t feel too much at home. HH: No. I don’t know why. [Chuckles] But they all didn’t come back. SM: Oh, yes. Well, I suppose they’re tied in with their husband’s associations or something. Would that be part of it or . . .? HH: I do not think so. The main thing could be cultural gaps. SM: Oh, yes. HH: If they . . . feel they could be treated differently. We’d never treat them a different way, but they might feel that way. SM: Oh, yes. HH: I don’t know. I didn’t hear directly. SM: So it might be their own internal worry about it. HH: Yes. Yes. SM: I see. Well, what about would their husbands ever come? Would they be accepted? HH: Sometimes, yes. They would all be accepted, but mainly because of conversation, the language barriers. SM: Oh, they can’t speak, yes. HH: Yes, so it’s not fun. SM: So the general language in the church is Korean. HH: Yes, it’s Korean. SM: Yes. And the preaching and singing is in Korean. HH: Korean. Sure, everything is in Korean. 68

SM: So the church is really an important cultural organization. HH: Yes, it is. Yes. SM: Are you [unclear]? HH: No, I have to leave five minutes before twelve. SM: And what time is it now? HH: It’s twenty before. We still have more. SM: Oh. Okay. Let’s see. Oh, what about, are there . . . there are quite a few Korean businesses, right? HH: Yes. Yes. SM: Would these have been people that came in the 1950s or very recent? HH: Oh, no. No, recently. SM: Very recent. HH: Yes. SM: So they evidently then brought some capital with them to do it? HH: Yes. SM: And are these mainly in partnerships or individuals? HH: No, no, their own. There are three Oriental groceries, Korean groceries. SM: Yes. Are there restaurants? HH: Oh, one restaurant. SM: One restaurant. Are there some gift shops? HH: Many gift shops. Many. I do not know how many. [Chuckles] SM: Oh. HH: Many alteration shops. 69

SM: Alterations? HH: Yes, that is a good job, makes good money. SM: Oh. Yes. I see. HH: And wig shop. Not many. Wig. SM: Oh, wig shops. Oh. HH: Compared to another . . . like a city, Chicago, L.A., and New York . . . SM: Yes. HH: Less business. SM: Right, because it’s just a smaller city. HH: Yes, it’s small. SM: Yes. So these cater to both Koreans and Americans mostly, is that right? I mean, their customers aren’t mainly Koreans? HH: No. No. SM: Except maybe the grocery store? Or do they sell everything? HH: Them, too. Even groceries. SM: Yes. HH: Groceries, many Americans also are coming. SM: I see. So they . . . would they buy any . . . would the older ones maybe use traditional Korean business methods like credit systems or something or do they use all Western . . .? HH: All Western. SM: Yes. Do they sell stock certificates and so on when they . . .? They just have the capital and then they do it on their own. HH: Yes. SM: Okay. Well, the Koreans have been very successful in their businesses. 70

HH: Very successful. They work very, very hard. SM: Yes. HH: And like to send their children to good schools. SM: Oh. HH: Like Carleton College. [Chuckles] SM: Oh, yes. Are there quite a few Korean students there? HH: Yes. Yes, at Carleton. SM: Hmmm. HH: Many are at UM, and Macalester, and even Northwestern. SM: In . . .? HH: In Chicago, yes. They work very hard to support the children’s education. SM: Oh, yes. HH: Oh, and they are very bright. SM: Oh, yes. HH: They could have some scholarships. Many times. SM: Yes. Well, are the business people more anxious for their children to get an education than say the professionals? Or it’s about equal? HH: No, no. Even blue collar, same, same thing. SM: Everybody. HH: Oh, everybody. SM: Yes. So they all have this value of education. HH: Yes. We believe that. We still believe that. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. And they are one of the very highest educated groups of minorities. 71

HH: Yes. Yes. Yes, even total population of Koreans in Korea, are very highly educated. SM: Yes. Right. That’s [unclear]. HH: Percentage-wise. SM: Yes. In Korea and here. HH: It’s . . . Japanese is number one and Korea is the second. SM: Oh, I see. HH: You know, Japanese are even higher then and compared to other countries. SM: Yes. They’re very high. HH: So Korea has very many educated people. SM: Right. That is part of the Confucian idea, too, isn’t it? HH: Oh, could be, yes. SM: Or not only that maybe, but that fosters it. HH: No, it is. It is. SM: Yes. Right. I see. Let’s see, what am I forgetting . . . [Chuckles] We talked about most of these things already. Do you have an idea of the percentage of professionals? HH: No. Maybe Mr. Kim will know. SM: Yes, he probably would. HH: Yes. SM: But the medical profession is quite high in the . . . HH: Oh, very high. SM: Would that be comparable like to the Filipinos? They also have many doctors and nurses. HH: No, I don’t know. Yes, it’s very high. It’s very many. SM: Very many then. 72

HH: Yes. SM: I’m really curious why there are a very high percentage of Asians in medical professions. Whether there is anything in the culture that fosters that or . . . HH: See, no, look at this like parents want to make their children very professional. SM: Yes. Okay. HH: That’s why many Ph.D.’s and M.D.’s. SM: Yes. You think it’s about equal or are there more doctors and nurses? HH: When compare you mean immigrants? SM: I mean, I know they want their children to be professionals, but would they like them especially to be doctors? HH: Yes, because it makes money. [Chuckles] SM: [Chuckles] [Unclear] that’s one point. But is there any other reason? HH: No, but . . . No, no. But those M.D.’s, present M.D.’s are not . . . here the children when they came over. They were doctors already. SM: Right. HH: So those are not. But present immigrants want to make their children become M.D.’s if possible. SM: Be doctors or . . . yes. That’s like the first choice maybe or not especially? HH: Oh, yes. SM: It is. HH: If their children are smart enough. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. If their parents can afford it. Yes. Well, is there any tradition of being lawyers? HH: Yes. SM: And lawyers, too. 73

HH: But they do not believe lawyers are going to be desirable with our background. SM: Oh, they think it would be harder for a lawyer to be successful? HH: Yes. So more engineering or . . . SM: Oh, yes. I guess it’s too early, but have . . . do you think that Koreans will be into politics or be elected as officials in this state and so on? HH: In the future, sure, we should do that. [Chuckles] SM: Certainly, I can’t see why they wouldn’t. HH: Oh, yes. SM: Has it begun at all or . . .? HH: No. SM: It’s too soon, I guess. Because first . . . HH: Yes. Chicago and L.A. have some. SM: Ah. Yes. HH: But not in Minnesota yet. [Chuckles] SM: It’s too soon. HH: Oh, yes. Vice president of a national . . . of a bank. SM: Oh, yes. HH: Is Korean. SM: Yes. Vice president of a national bank. HH: Dr. Sohn. [She is referring to Dr. Sung Won Sohn.] SM: Is that . . .? HH: It’s in Minneapolis. What is . . .? SM: Is it called a Minneapolis . . .? 74

HH: He was the chief economy consultant for Nixon, wasn’t he? SM: Oh, I think I’ve seen him on television, in fact. HH: Yes. Yes. Sure. SM: Yes. But it’s the National Bank? HH: No. I cannot remember . . . is it National Bank or . . .? SM: Maybe it has some fuller name. I can probably find that out. HH: Yes. You can find it. Dr. Sohn. SM: Yes, but his name is Dr. Sohn. HH: Yes. SM: I thought he was Chinese. He’s Korean. HH: Oh, he’s Korean. SM: [Chuckles] I made a big mistake. HH: [Chuckles] SM: Well, do think of anything that . . .? What are some of your ideas about the future for the adopted children? Will they feel Korean or will they be totally assimilated . . .? HH: They are American but Korean background. Korean ethnic. SM: Yes. Will their parents succeed in making them proud or identify with the Korean? HH: I hope so, yes. That is . . . SM: They seem to be trying. HH: Yes. SM: But it’s difficult. HH: That is one of my roles, how to help those. SM: Oh, I see. You do counseling on that, too. 75

HH: Yes. SM: Yes, it will be very interesting, I think, to see how . . . what role they play in Minnesota. HH: Yes. SM: Because they are a very large number. HH: Yes. SM: And whether they’ll identify with the Korean community. HH: Yes, in the future. [Chuckles] SM: Yes. Since they make friends at the school, I assume. HH: Yes. SM: But they are very scattered, aren’t they, into the . . . HH: Yes, but Twin Cities has the most. SM: It still has the most. HH: Yes. SM: Do . . . are many Koreans involved in rural work? HH: No. SM: It’s mostly urban. HH: Yes. SM: I suppose some of the adopted children are in rural . . . are any gone to farm families or small towns? HH: Yes. Yes. Many. Many of them. SM: Yes. Well, I mustn’t keep you any longer. HH: Now if you have any leftover . . . just don’t hesitate in calling me and ask for another time. Okay. SM: Alright. Okay. Thank you very much. 76

HH: Sure. SM: I think this is a very interesting interview. HH: Yes. SM: I know it will be very valuable for our archives. HH: Oh, no. [Chuckles] SM: Thank you.