Buraku Liberation News, March 1997 issue (N0.95)

5. My childhood---- by Ms Boksang Chu

We have been publishing literacy essays written by Buraku people studying at literacy classes in Buraku areas. On the other hand, there are many foreign residents who study Japanese there. In this issue, we publish an essay written by a Korean resident.

I was born in 1922 at Kimhea, Kyung Namdo in Korea. I was brought up there as the second daughter among two brothers and five sisters. Our family, consisted of ten members, was very poor in the period of the Japanese colonial rule. We sometimes felt hungry because we were not able to have enough meals, even meals such as porridge made of partly ground wheat.

Although my brothers studied at school even in poverty, we sisters were not sent to school, having been told by our parents that we might not be able to marry because we would become assertive by the time of our graduation.

I clearly remember as if it had happened yesterday that I envied some of my friends when I saw them on their way to school to attend the entrance ceremony. I begged my mother in tears to send me to school, for several days without taking a meal.

When one of my sisters was 12 and I was 10 years old, we started to work at home. We twisted hemp grown in our field and wove cloth. In autumn, we made cotton yarn and wove several rolls of cotton cloth.

After cutting the cloth, my mother, my sister and I sewed different kinds of garments worn for each season.

At night, we fired a piece of oil-dipped cotton which was crumpled into a thumb-sized ball because we did not have electricity. We worked until late at night by using that fire as a light.

We woke up at six o'clock in the morning and boiled a lot of wheat in a big iron pot by using burning straw as fuel. After breakfast of the ten members, my sister and I began knitting while my mother resumed weaving. We had to do kitchen work three times and wash clothes every day.

Due to such a busy daily schedule, we did not have enough time to go out of the

house. What is more, we were entirely prohibited to go out. I sometimes thought ill of my parents how bad they were.

When I was 18 years old, I got married. I came to Japan at the age of 19 with my husband. The arrival in Japan was another beginning of my hardship. I was at a loss how to live without understanding Japanese language above all things.

World War-Éended after two years of my living in Japan. 1 continued to work at home as a sewer of Chimajugori, a traditional dress for Korean women, while I took care of my children.

Probably because I was self-employed, I did not remember any special treatment of being discriminated-against, which many of my fellow countrymen suffered in Japanese society. However, I came to know through my present study of Korean history at night school that a lot of Korean people belonging to the same generation as I, were not able to go to school since Japan had taken over Korea.

I think that such a situation was an experience of discrimination that I also suffered.