Kim, Hee Bok

Hello, my name is Kim Hee Bok, also known as Grandma Kim, and I am a 91 year-old activist and a survivor of the Korean War. During the Japanese occupation, I was separated from my family. I remember hearing people scream there was a war and that North Korea was invading. As I looked out, I saw teenagers in tanks shooting civilians.

 

At the age of 23, I married and moved from my hometown Pyongyang to Seoul. Even in Seoul, the chaotic war was still impacting many lives. The North Koreans destroyed the Hangang Bridge because people were trying to flee. Children and young adults from the countryside ran into houses and asked for shelter, trying to hide from immigration officers.

 

I gave birth to two sons in Seoul and immigrated to the United States in 1988. Because North Korea isn't a place that you can just visit, it took me about three years to get permission to go.

 

Sadly, I found out that my parents and all my siblings had passed away. It's unfortunate that I won't be able to see them again but I will always have them in my heart. If they were alive, I would like to work with them in the community, and be beside them as I reach toward my goal to improve the lives of those around me.