In Memoriam, Young-Sook Kim (Jan 11, 1913-July 19, 1990)

I wrote previously that I didn’t have much memory about my grandfather because he passed away when I was about 3 years old. I am perplexed to realize that my memory about my grandmother is not significantly richer despite the fact that I was 24 years old when she passed away in 1990, at the age of 77.

It is perhaps because I lived far away from her. She lived in Daegu and my family in Seoul. We visited her only once or twice each year. I recollect that I always had an uneasy, awkward feeling to meet grandmother and my father’s relatives in Daegu.

Nevertheless, I remember my grandmother as a generous, caring, hospitable, pious, godly lady who always got up before dawn to pray to God every morning. She also made it a rule for the whole family to gather in a small worship service at home before having breakfast.

She was rather short. She always wore in traditional Korean style (Han-Bok), mostly in pale, whitish color.

Her name was Sung-Shim (聖心; meaning “sacred heart”) but she considered the name rather burdensome, so she preferred to be called Young-Sook (永淑, a common name).

My memory about her last days is rather hazy. I was busy with my research at graduate school in the summer of 1990. My father would usually come home very late. So, on the day when we got a phone call about my grandmother’s serious condition, I had to wait until my father came home and then we drove together to Daegu around midnight. I do not remember seeing her at the hospital. Perhaps she had already passed away when we got there. I don’t remember much about the funeral either, except that it was very hot then and I was exhausted and was perspiring profusely all the time.


I remember that my grandmother loved me very much. One day, when I was alone with her, she opened the Bible to John chapter 15. She emphasized over and over how it is important for me to stick with Jesus without whom I would be able to do nothing.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. — John 15:5-7

That is one of the clearest memories that I have about my grandmother.

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