In my childhood, I was one of the five oldest of twenty-six children. But, despite my role as a big sister, I could not offer anything to my youngsters. I was mostly quiet, and lived at Soo Pool Won, Isabell orphanage, until I dropped out of high school. After dropping out of high school, I had to leave the orphanage. Then at 18 years old, I had to look for a job which offered room and board. My first job was working at a hair salon. It was not in their interest to teach me the skills I needed, instead, my work was strictly limited to sweeping, cleaning, and tending the mail. Only then was I rewarded with supper.
During the time I was single, I never obtained skill as a hairdresser, and ended up changing jobs several times between factory and restaurant work. At my job at the factory, an acquaintance suggested I consider meeting a man through a matchmaker. Thinking it would lessen my loneliness if I started my own family, I agreed to it. Soon after, I was married in 1986, and that was the beginning point of yet another chapter of my misery.
I could not sustain the abuse by my in-laws purely for the reason that I was an orphan. Every day, I thought of running away from this nightmare while I did not have a child. However, even if I wanted to run away, I had no one with whom I could seek refuge, so while I struggled with this harsh and abusive living situation, my son was born. It became unbearable to see my son grow up watching my husband becoming an alcoholic.
The situation became so unbearable that I left home with my son and a few necessities. We lived with one of my orphanage younger sisters and her husband for six months and my son attended first grade. I found a job closer to their apartment. They were kind and generous to us, and I finally felt a sense of ease. After six months, my husband began repeatedly coming to my sister’s apartment drunk so often I finally had to leave her apartment and move back to my husband’s home. After two years, in 1995, my husband died of alcohol poisoning. However, instead of feeling sadness and grief from his death, I felt neither.
After his death, I immediately broke off of any ties with my in-laws, and finally ended their torment. After that, my heart found peace, but because I no longer had a husband, I had to work twice as hard to support my son. At times, my younger sister’s husband helped me by providing rice to sustain me and my son until my son was grown up. He was so wonderful. My son suffered a lot as a child, but he maintained a positive attitude all through high school. My son motivated me to work hard and live with a thankful heart even in harsh times.
My son had to drop out of college to support himself. After doing temporary work for two years, he began a mandatory two years of military service. After finishing his term, my son and I traveled to America during which I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and forgot all my hard labor. People who we knew in America were so hospitable and kind to us that it made my trip so wonderful, and I felt more love than I could have imagined. After returning from my amazing trip from America, as we settled back into our routine, my son suddenly brought up the subject of his interest in staying in America. With my sole income, it was unthinkable to be able to support him.
However, with his persistency of not giving up his interest in studying in America, I made the difficult decision. In 2009, I decided to mortgage my apartment so he could study in the US.
For the next three years, to support my son’s college tuition and living costs, I did not take a break from work. I worked every day, every night, and every weekend. This harsh physical labor took a toll on me, and because I did not take any days off, my body was showing signs of stress. I visited the medical clinic faithfully, and when I started to feel better, my son graduated with an associate degree in computer science. Upon returning back from America, he got a job, and his job allowed him to travel to various locations overseas. He gained much more knowledge, earned money, studied consistently, and obtained the hardest certificate of Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert. It was not easy, but because he understood my difficult situation, he pursued and obtained a position at an even better company. To watch my son succeed, I am so amazed and so proud of him. My life was harsh and difficult, but God gave me and my sisters a love that made it possible to overcome the pain that our circumstance inflicted on us.