Divided Family

Sarah An, Guest Writer

“We are free! We are finally independent!” People filled the town crying out and waving the flag.

“Youjin! Get out!” Without even noticing it, my parents and older brother joined the crowd clamoring for the ownership of this nation, Korea. Even though we were suppressed and tortured by the Japanese government, every day and night, mother told me and my sister that we should remember our country belongs to us, not to Japan. At last, because of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we could become free from Japanese government’s suppression.

*                 *           *

Days passed, and my father ran towards us and told us urgently that we should pack our bags and leave immediately. The situation made us extremely confused, but because we had no other way, we followed him.

“Mom, why are we leaving?” While walking through the mountains, I asked mom the reason why we were evacuating.

“It is because a war between our north region and south region will occur. People in the town are moving to China to stay safe.”

“Aren’t we the same nation? Why are we fighting each other?” My sister asked the question which I also wondered.

“Even if it belongs in a same country, people fight when they have different opinions. The north part of the Korea, where we live, wants to follow communism, but the South prefers democracy,”said my mother. Even though I heard about this, I couldn’t fully understand.

*                 *           *

About twenty days have passed and our family was running out of food. We barely ate more than one meal a day, and our parents frequently skipped their meals. They even had to carry my younger sister Hana, because she couldn’t walk most of the time. After continuously walking on the damp ground, our family could join the other refugees. I could see familiar faces from the neighborhood in the crowds. While sensing the scent of the sea, mom said that we were almost at the destination. However, I couldn’t believe what was going on in front of me. At that harbor, that huge enormous area, the only thing I could see was people. The port was packed with innumerable families.

“Hold my hand tight. Don’t lose your track. And don’t fall down, because once you do, people will trample on you, and you might die,” warned father. Even though I was only 15, I felt that if I let go of his hand, we could be separated forever. Like our family, there were other families holding tight together. While approaching to the ship, in an instant, I spotted one tiny child being pushed by the throng of people around her. She fell down, and she was about to be stomped by people. I quickly ran to her and helped her to her feet.

Once I looked around, fortunately I could find my parents going ahead of me. I could have almost lost them forever, just by helping one girl! They were quite far away from me, but I could see them heading toward one of the ships. Finally, entering the ship, I was greatly relieved that I could go to China with my family.

*                 *           *

While the nights and days shifted 3 times, our ship finally ended up at the destination through 2 days. Although the interior of the ship was broad, because of the packed people, I had to go through sea sickness. However, I could make a friend named Ji-yeon who lost her parents while boarding on the ship. She was fifteen year old, just like me, and she lived Songnim which was farther than I was from Nampo. She must have came through tougher situations than our family did.

“How did you lose your family?” I asked carefully.

“I lost them while we were crossing the river. I don’t know what happened to them. I just hope them to be safe.” During the whole sailing, Ji-yeon was depressed by the lost of her family, and I always comforted her from her sorrow. Even through the nights, we always sticked together. We were nearly a family.

*                 *           *

“We are here, Po-hang!” said the old man from the crowd. And as far as I knew, Po-hang was located in South Korea, and we should have arrived at China. Slowly, anxiety climbed to my thoughts. Wait, I should find my family immediately. However, even though I searched through everyone who came out of the ship, I couldn’t even find one of my family member. Did we even boarded on the same ship..? Did I take the wrong ship..? When I realized that I have lost my family, I was enormously despaired. Ji-yeon came to me to comfort me as I did to her.

“You-Jin, I know that you and I are depressed from the loss of family, but we have to find our way here,” said Ji-yeon. We knew that it was almost impossible to get back to Nampo, where we lived. So we decided to follow the crowd who got off from the ship with us.

While following their paths, Ji-yeon and I planned to live together until we find our own ways. Even though there was Korean-war waiting for us, we determined to figure out what was in front of us. Every time I got back to sleep, I wished my family could arrive safe at China and stay secured from the war, hoping that we could reunite again through our lifetime.




Editors, History.com. “Korean War.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/korea/korean-war. 4.18.2019.

GHP-Salem Press Online, online.salempress.com/search.do. 4.18.2019.

Sang-hun, Choe. “Korean Families, Separated for 6 Decades, Are Briefly

Reunited.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Aug. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/world/asia/north-south-korea-family-reunions.html. 4.18.2019.