Friday, February 3, 2012

My Korean Heritage

Dear Sarah, Hannah, Julia & Joshua,
Today in our homeschool coop, I will be teaching about Korea. I want to share the story of your Great-Grandma Peggy & Grandma Sonia's experiences during the Korean war with you. I hope and pray that in your lifetime you won't ever have to experience such sadness.

My grandmother’s name was Woon Sam Sandifer (american name, Peggy Sandifer). She was born in 1923 in Seoul, Korea. She was from a family of seven children. She was the second youngest with three brothers and three sisters.
When she was only four years old her dad passed away and left seven children. Her family was very poor and life was hard. Her oldest brother, now the man of the family worked very hard in a rice field. He worked so hard each day for an amount of rice which would barely feed their large family. So my grandma’s two older sisters went to live and be raised by two different families. Each of the families had a son and when the sister’s grew older, they were to get married in a pre-arranged marriage. My grandma loved her mom so much that she begged not to be taken away for a pre-arranged marriage. So she and her younger sister lived with their mom, but they missed their older sisters. My grandma’s oldest brother continued to take care of their family, but one day while he was working at the rice field, his body twisted and he died because he was too weak. My grandma admired her brother for all the work he did to provide for their family, but I often saw the sadness in my grandma when she thought about how he passed away.
My grandma met my Korean grandpa and they were married. They had two children but the first daughter died at the age of one. My mom, (Korean name:Soonyi, American name: Sonia) was their second child. When the Korean War first started, they had to leave their home in Seoul Korea. Everyone in her town left quickly because the communist were coming to destroy the town. Families were walking like a parade of people with their belongings on their backs, horses and cows. The communist airplanes dropped bombs and many people and animals died. When a bomb came, my grandma would dive down, cover up her baby and lay on the side of the road to try to take cover. She would also hide in ditches with her baby on her back to try to stay alive. Everywhere she walked she had to step over dead bodies. Once she and her family had nowhere else to go and they lived under a bridge. There were too many mosquitoes and bugs. One day, she and her daughter (my mom) were walking and a bomb flew right in front of them. If they were to have walked one step further they would have been killed. A lot of families would leave their babies or little children at the side of the road to die since they couldn’t help them anyway. My grandparents found a five year old little girl. She was very pretty. So my grandparents decided to bring her home with them to Suwan. The little girl had frostbite on her legs. Her legs were all frozen like they were all spoiled. My grandparents bought a wagon and pulled the five year old little girl and my mom along as they traveled to Suwan. The little girl died in Suwan where there were no hospitals.
In Suwan, people lived in empty houses, buildings and schools. Four or five families stayed together inside the same building. There were a lot of bugs, lice and flu going around. There was hardly any food except from the government. My grandfather’s job was to count all the people in each family, in that city. He would then go to the government and tell the count because the government gave so much rice to each family. My grandpa would then go to each family and distribute the rice. He was well liked in that city. My grandma would go to the empty houses, where people ran away from and she would use their stoves to cook the rice. Many people became sick from the flu. My grandparents & mom all had the flu. My grandpa was the last to get the flu and he died in Suwan that year from the flu. When my grandpa died, my grandma was so scared. She cried and cried since she loved him so much. It was like a part of her was gone. My grandma didn’t know what to do. A man who was like the mayor helped my grandma bury my grandpa’s body in Suwan.
After my grandpa died, my mom & grandma went back to my grandma’s home in Seoul, Korea. When they arrived, their home was gone from a fire bomb. So they left and went to my grandpa’s brothers home and stayed there for three months. After that they went and stayed at my grandma’s sisters home. My grandma’s sister would watch my mom while my grandma went to look for a job. She found a job selling perfume and makeup and carried it all on her back and on top of her head. She would get paid by rice, eating some of it, giving some to her family and selling the rest to buy more perfume and makeup to sell. Later she sold civilian soldier clothes and worked as a housekeeper at other places.
I’m so proud of my grandma, who went through so much to stay alive and keep her baby, my mom, healthy during the war. They were still living at my great-aunt’s house when the war ended in July, 1953. My grandma finally saved enough money to buy a 3 bedroom house. They lived in one bedroom while they rented out the other two. In one of the rooms, lived an American soldier. This American soldier, Perry Sandifer, later became my step-grandfather. My grandma remarried in Seoul Korea to this American, and they moved to Kansas, USA. Going to America was a dream come true compared to my grandma’s hard lifestyle in Korea. When they went to America, my grandma and step-grandpa brought with them my mom who was 6 years old, my uncle Ki and they adopted a little half Korean girl named Meeja. My grandma was a very hard worker. She saved all her money to eventually help pay for her siblings and families to move to America.
If it wasn’t for my grandma & mom, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My grandma taught me to give thanks that we are not going hungry. She often mentioned how it took so much work just to get a portion of rice. My grandma always hated it when people wasted food. I am lucky to live in a world where we have plenty of food. My mom taught me to appreciate things, to never give up and to be positive. I didn't understand when I was little why my grandma seemed so unhappy and negative. Now, I understand more the hardships she endured. I thank my mom & grandma, for making my life much better since they provided the things I needed while I was growing up. I’ll always love my mom and grandma. I will also appreciate my step-grandfather who opened the doors to America for my grandma and mom. I am also very thankful that my grandma and mom were both able to learn about God & Jesus and become Christians in America. My Korean heritage is even more special to me now that both my grandma and mom are in heaven. I love eating Korean food such as, rice, kimchee and bulgogi because it reminds me of them. I hope that the hardship they endured during the Korean war and lessons they learned will be passed on to my children and generations to follow.

Suzy Snow
February 2, 2012

P.S. Here is your Grandma Sonia's (my mom's) Korean Bul-Go-Gi Recipe
4 lbs Korean meat- thinly sliced ask the butcher to use the machine to cut it if you don't get the meat from a Korean market. Use eye of round, beef flank steak, sirloin or rib eye meat
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Water
3-4 T. Sesame Seed Oil
1/2 C. Sugar
bunch of green onions chopped- about 3 strings cut top of the hairy part off. Cut the rest of the green onion, chop into small pieces
dash of pepper
a little garlic chopped

Marinade the meat and then grill it cook on stove.

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