There were three kids, wife’s family, and now came his brother. Father needed a bigger house. He bought a two-story house in an up-scale neighborhood, Ga Hei Dong. A neighbor on one side was the dean of Ewha Women’s University, and the other side was a Navy general. The Navy general had a son of my age. I don’t remember ever meeting him in person. But over the wall, we taught each other our fathers' military songs. I taught him Marines song, and he taught me Navy song.
We had a pretty good time living in that house. We had a live-in housemaid, and my father’s military driver and assistant used to come and go. Military officer had a prestige. The government imported appliances from Japan and offered higher rank government officials and military officers the first options to purchase them. We had a refrigerator and TV, black and white, when the common people could not even dream of getting them. My father invited American military advisors and entertained them. He gave them nice Korean paintings on scrolls or in frames as gifts.
Every morning, my mother fixed father’s uniform tie. I and my brother saluted to him as he was leaving. Kim Kwang Suk’s song, “A story of 60 years old couple,” reminds of those mornings. “I remember your white and soft hands which made a knot on my tie. Do you remember it, too?” I put this song on the photo slide show for mother’s funeral.
Up until then, my father was a very successful officer with the bright future. He used to take trips to Okinawa, Philippines, and the United States for trainings. He brought home a doll that closed her eyes laying down and wide opened them standing up, or a car that ran with the lights blinking and the siren wailing.
My sister went to Jae Dong Elementary School. I and my brother were too young for the school yet. I remember the whole family dressed up and went to the school play she was in. We went to see cherry blossom in spring and went to play in the water in summer. I could not get into the water. So, they tied a small rubber boat to a tree near the water and put me in it. On the days of my sister’s school picnic, my mother fixed box lunches for us. My father would come home early and take us to the local park. We had a picnic there and ate our food.
They used to take me to the movies. In “Viking,” they put the dead leader in a small boat, sent it to the ocean, and hit it with the burning arrow to sink it. In “The Old Man and the Sea,” the old man finally caught a huge fish after a long battle. But by the time he reached the port, the fish was all eaten by the sharks, and only the head and large bones were left. In “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” he was swallowed by a big whale and enter its stomach. After all those years, I still remember these scenes.
My parents loved the movies. My mother had large collections of movie pamphlets and posters from 50-60’s. I think she threw them away when she left Korea. They would have decent amount of value now.
Our family outings ended as we left the house in Ga Hei Dong. Unlike the military officer who had regular hours and the week-end off, my parents were busy with their business. Also, I became too big to be carried around. They probably did not want to leave me alone at home, either. They stopped the family outings. I know it was not my fault. Nevertheless, I feel sorry for my siblings.
So many things happened while we were living in that house.