This webpage is for the people of the Toronto Conference for story sharing and networking.

To my friends!

In Memory of Professor Choi

Who lived out his faith in God's justice, fought against the military dictatorship in Korea, and assacinated by KCIA.

 

Please pray for me.

I am going to Korea to wear my Victory Shawl, our victory shawl.

To celebrate my brother's life at his 29th memorial day, on October 17th, 2002.

I am going to mark this day as the return of democracy to Korea.

 

The shawl was created by Korean Christian women,

With their busy hand to shape the shawl into a "V" shape, as a symbol of victory,

With their head repeating word, ¡±MinJooHoiBok¡± ,which means return of democracy

With their hearts praying to God,¡± hear our prayer.¡±

This shawl came to
Canada to help raise funds to free their leaders in prison,

To tell the story of a seemingly helpless, hopeless situation

To move Canadian Christian Women¡¯s caring hearts and concerned minds.

This one came all the way to Orillia, 

St. Paul's United Church of Canada, UCW unit #4.

 

While I was sitting quietly, they decided to get one,

Only one to save the labor of sisters in Korea, yet, to honor their prayer.

Each of us wore this shawl for a month then offered our prayers and money.

 

This shawl was offered to me after all the prayers and money were gathered

To me, the silenced, with loneliness, far away from home, language and culture.

Because of the death of my son to whom I put all hopes and dreams

And of my brother who had been upholding me and nurturing me.

 

My brother who turned my life around toward God,

Who chose this community and this church as the best place for me.

He promised that he would come and reclaim me.

After he help build Korea, the true democratic country.

 

My brother who journeyed with me side by side.

Who taught me put God first.

Protected me from traditional woman¡¯s way of life.

Who taught me unconditional love by the act of love.

Who taught me to fly, taught me to stand upright always in front of others and God

 

Always he tried hard to keep my joyful, happy and smiling face.

"That is your life and that is our mother and father's hope and dream." he said.

It was very hard to be "me" when he was tortured to death, as an alleged communist spy.

Fighting back against the power trying to put us into shame and sadness.

 

To have hope when they told me that he killed himself during questioning.

Questioning if he was a communist spy or not.

You do not have to say anything more to make one family an outcast.

The family who had all the reasons to be respected and be loved became an outcast.

 

The character, courage and hope were built under the Japanese cruel occupation.

The hope and dream that they will build our own new country to be free and safe for us,

For younger generation he devoted his whole life to study at home and abroad.

Loved his students, every one of them with respect and gratitude.

 

The professor who confronted police chief who has power you cannot imagine.

To protect and save the lives and dignity of his students.

For the students who will inherit his dream and hope for Korea.

The students of Seoul National University. The students of Law School.

 

They had pain because they had to watch passing the constitution to suit for dictatorship.

This great pain led them to make decision to burn themselves to protest.

He told me later that he gave up his life at that moment when he challenged

That police chief who was yelling at Principal of Law School., his professor.

 

How stupid he is not able to control his students and let the situation be that serious.

He was too scholar to say anything to the powerful police chief.

My brother confronted  police chief who has all kinds of power

Demanded to apologize to old and weak Principal of Law School, his professor.

 

 

In front of the eyes of the world, the police chief had to apologize.

My brother told to police chief,¡± How dare you yell at him, you are not keeping the law.

The ranking of Principal of Law School, at National University is lot higher than yours.¡±

Then my brother bowed to his professor and joined with his students to die with them.

 

Later he told me that if his students decide to burn themselves he could've died with them.

But, who will care for Korea if they die.

Who will carry their hope and dream if they die.

They made their decision to live for Korea. They hugged and cried.

 

The new law arranged to pass 100 % in their favour passed with 98 % in their favour.

The almost insignificant margin, that 2% was the sign of life of democracy in Korea

There are people who have courage to express under such an enormous pressure.

That 2% was my brother and his students and their parents and friends.

 

He came to Orillia before head to Harvard as an exchange scholar.

He took out a newspaper article that says, "The Teacher and Students Cried Together."

I read it in tears, then I reached out my hands, I thanked him for what he did for our country.

We hold each others hands for a long time in silence, and tears rolling down on our cheeks..

Then he said, "This will kill me someday."

 

We knew people like him are dangerous because those people can see through the hearts.

It made them very uncomfortable because they knew that they are cheating on people.

He knew that they will kill him when it is good time for them.

 

They tried to assassinate opposition leader Kim Dae Joong.

They kidnapped and tied him with rope,

Tied a big rock on his ankle.  Just before they throw him into the sea.

He was rescued.

 

What will they say to the people in Korea.  

To keep these people in the fearful mood what they do.

Kill this respected professor and make him into alleged communist spy.

Kill him then announce that he killed himself.  Now nobody can stand beside him.

 

They tried to make him say that he was a spy maybe.

To shock the world and who knows that they were try to make connection with Kim, Dae Joong

But nobody can accuse him of anything,  For he always kept himself in line with God.

 

I don't think that he even screamed while he was tortured.

My brother who told me not to scream at childbirth.

And he knew that I never screamed even it was very long and hard childbirth.

I always reminded him because I promised to him that I would not, I couldn't.

Maybe that is why they tortured him even more, more to death.

 

The beautiful journey with him, I will always treasure.

Seeing and telling saints ship in ordinary people

Fishing under The Atherley Bridge. The joyful shouting over a perch..

Sled rides with my son and my husband at the Victoria Park.

The laughter created by this high scholar and my intelligent young son.

The sad news that my son died hit by a car.  Planting God in my empty soul.

His surrendering power to God, his love toward his wife and son and daughter

Became the beacon of my life.

 

The last visit to Canada he drove here with his wife and children.

He brought me a rainbow colored quilt for my second child soon to be born.

For the last time I asked him not go back to Korea.

 

"Joan, I promised to my students' shining eyes, that I would be back."

"Joan, I become too big a person to use my life for me; therefore, I gave myself for others."

I could not understand, did not want hear anymore. I approached to him as if I would kiss him, Then backed out.

He asked me to kiss on his lips with his very strong and firm voice.

I kissed him. This is impossible scene in Korean culture.  Then he drove away.

 

We could not do anything for him because we were outcasts.

Encountering brave people, their kindness and understanding us was our role.

We cannot repay these people, so we prayed God to remember them.

We remember him our own way.

 

Here in Canada we did little thing in memory of him.

We dedicated offering baskets at St. Paul's United Church of Canada.

Every time when this basket is passing by I touch it with great emotion

Then I ask myself, "What are you offering today?", "No, not yet my life."

 

But I ask God to come and see. It seems that God is too busy to come.

So, I packed and went out to the wilderness,

To the top of the mountain,"Emmanuel College." To meet God there.

I went everywhere but we have language problem. We have too many sets of language.

 

I wanted to learn how to forgive those people who tortured my brother to death.

But found that answer in my brother's letter which he wrote when my son died.

That life is on God's hands. Not to blame anybody when it comes to life and death.

I asked in my prayer, even his death?  The answer was, even his.

 

Death is not punishment, it is an opening the door of eternal life, everlasting joy and hope.

Someday I will encounter them.  Then I will ask them, "Did God forgive you?"

If they say, "Yes" I hope I can say that I am happy for you.

If they say, "No" Will I be able to say that they should ask God to forgive them?

 

Then I take out this shawl. Wrap myself around.

And imagine the day when I wear this shawl.

To tell the world that it is here that democracy is here in Korea

Nothing happened, but hopes renewed and prayer continued.

 

At the small corner of the world, by one insignificant woman.

The big and huge prayer was said.

Every morning at sunrise, she greets sun as if she receives the love of God.

Then she sends her love to all the people she is holding in her heart.

 

Pray for me, my friends for the courage and compassion

To restore my voice

To tell the world the story of my shawl

Hidden away so long we almost forgot that it was there long time ago.

Year 2002, May 27th, the committee was formed by Government of Korea

After lengthy investigation announced that he did not kill himself and

The story about questioning was made up story after they killed him.

The prayer given to God for our family has been answered.

And our prayer to God is being answered.

Thank you all the people of God who worked so hard to bring this truth out

 

Thanks be to God

 

Written by Joan Jong Rhe Song,

In memory of her borhter, a faithful servant of God,  who always called her "My Dear Only Little Sister Jong Rhe"

 

 

 

 

Please send your stories to web editor to share with others. Your small voice may change the church and the world.