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Exploded Korean Dream of Korean-Chinese Family

Posted January. 09, 2008 08:18,   


“Oh, my son! It was my fault! I just thought we could make more money here,” lamented Kang Sun-nyeo, 59, at a funeral home set up at the Icheon Civic Center, yesterday. She collapsed with her face buried in her hands.

Her son was one of several victims who lost their lives to a devastating fire that broke out on Jan. 7.

Her wrinkled face was pale and her voice hoarse.

She lost five family members in Monday’s ice warehouse explosion. They included her husband, son, nephew and his wife.

The disaster brought to an end the Korean dream for Kang’s Korean-Chinese family.

Kang’s husband, Park Yeong-ho, 60, was the first to arrive in Korea. Without any special skills, Park did odd jobs to make ends meet. Employment was on and off. Park’s life was unstable. But he had a dream: his son, Yong-shik, 34.

An engineer, Yong-shik demonstrated himself in China as well as in Korea. Last year, he got a job with a subcontractor for “Korea 2000.” Yong-shik was outgoing and took good care of his family, helping them find jobs. His cheerful personality and skills earned him credit at work.

Recommended by Yong-shik, Cho Dong-myeong, 44, and his wife, Park Jeong-ae, 44, came to Seoul last September from China. Cho was the son of Yong-shik’s aunt. The Chos moved to Korea with a dream to finance their honor-roll student son through college. The Chos came with their relatives Eom Jun-yong, 51, and Sohn Dong-hak, 34.

Yong-shik’s father asked him to make arrangements so that they could work together. Fired from his previous job late last year, Park, with the help of his son, joined his son beginning last December. Yong-shik’s brother-in-law also joined them soon afterwards.

That was how Yong-shik’s seven family members started working together to make their Korean dream come true.

But their journey came to an abrupt end as their bodies were placed into body bags.

Kang’s brother, Seok-mun, 68, flew to Korea upon receiving the tragic news. He cried, “Yong-shik has one-year-old twins! How can he rest in peace?”

After seven years of marriage without children, Yong-shik and his wife had had twins last year.

The father of Yong-shik’s brother-in-law, Yong-jin, 57, mourned, “My son just got here five days ago. He was overjoyed when he got this job. I still vividly remember his happy face.”

After being tended to by her relatives, Kang arose and did not say a word. Only tears emerged.

In a brief moment, a fire’s flare swept everything away from one Korean-Chinese family.