Skip to comments.Korean native witnessed Japanese occupation, Korean War, Dies at 104
Posted on 07/05/2013 11:03:41 AM PDT by mkboyce
When Nah Mi Kim came to the United States in 1975, she was a survivor of years of turmoil and life experiences in her native Korea that would have been enough to break the toughest of people. But those experiences only made her stronger.
Surrounded by her family, the former elementary school teacher passed away June 5 in Newport Beach at 104 years of age.
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Surrounded by her family, the former elementary school teacher passed away June 5 in Newport Beach at 104 years of age."She was always warm and lighthearted," said Marco Boyce, Kim's grandson. "It's just amazing that after what she had been through, she was always smiling."
Born in the Korean Empire in 1908, Kim was witness to 35 years of the Japanese occupation of her country. Kim's mother was also an active leader in the Korean Independence Movement during that time. In the 1930s and 1940s, Kim also worked as an elementary school teacher in her native Korea.
When World War II erupted, Kim and her husband fled to Beijing. They returned in 1945 after an arduous journey where they were detained and searched by Russian troops. Upon their return to Korea, the country was in the midst of violent political turmoil and was on the brink of a bloody civil war that would eventually send communist troops into the country, forcing Kim and her family to flee once again. But before they were able to leave, the communists interrogated Kim to try and determine the whereabouts of her husband, a government prosecutor who was working in another province.
After two of her daughters came to the United States in the 1960s and her husband passed away, Kim and her other daughter and son followed in 1975, originally settling in Los Angeles and later moving to Irvine and eventually Newport Beach.
Even after escaping the tumultuous years in Korea, Kim battled breast cancer when she came to the United States, but was able to recover following a mastectomy.
"My mother went through a lot but never complained," said Seonglan Boyce, Kim's daughter. She also explained that her mother's Christian faith helped to give her inner strength.
"She just handled things very quietly," she said.
Many years after her time in Korea, Kim detailed memories of her childhood in a diary, which offered her family a glimpse into her personal life after she passed away.
A lover of music, Kim loved to play the piano and did so until she was 99 years old. She was also an avid tennis player and spoke three languages.
Kim was preceded in death by her husband, Gahng Kim and her son, Kwang Yup Kim. She is survived by her son, Kwang Min Kim; and daughters Seong Lan Kim Boyce; Younglan Kim Ewing and Kyung Lan Kim Huh, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
RIP. She certainly doesn’t have to see what’s coming. I wonder what she thought of witnessing the USA’s moral slide . . .
Thank you to all to those who served during World War II and the Korean War. You changed history for millions of people and families. My grandmother, who witnessed much of it, “was always thankful” and was “proud of being an American citizen” after immigrating to the United States from South Korea in 1975.
Its beyond comprehension to speak with the people who lived through those times. The evil that existed is so much more real than just reading about it in a book.
My maternal family were among the lucky ones to survive.
As a little girl, my mother remembers fleeing to the very southern part of the Korean peninsula with her parents and siblings when the Communist troops invaded from the north in 1950.
They lost much of their property/wealth and my grandfather, a lawyer, had to go into hiding to survive being captured.
Even after the war, as he worked —much of it pro bono and in vain— to help ‘peasant’ farmers recoup land stolen from them by the Communist invaders and subsequently held firm by the infantile Korean Republic, life was still harsh. Because of this, he ultimately succumed to the effects of alcoholism.
I remember speaking with this really old korean guy who cleaned the air traffic control tower. He had been part of a work detail at one point. The japanese shot the korean supervisor and assigned it to another guy. He refused and was shot. The guy I spoke with was then given the choice of being supervisor or he could refuse.
Not surprised. Many were casually executed by Japanese troops for the most minor of infractions.
This occurred going the other way as well after WWII in order to keep the Communists from gaining any more ‘minds’ south of the 38th Parallel (rightfully so).
I recall reading about how this viseral anti-Communist mentality lingered on so much so that the NVA had very real fears of engaging ROK troops during the Vietnam War. It’s one thing to be occupied by another nation/culture (Japan). To have your own, brainwashed into hating you for your political beliefs, is a whole other story.
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