Family Values in “Remembering Korea”

The “Remembering Korea” is a book of memories of a young soldier that went to defend his motherland in a Korean civil war. It covers the history of a young man from the childhood till adolescence and creates the images of his family and society he lived in. It provides a range of pictures that show not only an individual life of the protagonist, however from the different memories he describes it is possible to look at the common state of South Korea as a nation. The family relationships frequently leaded to the decay of the society, which then had to participate in battles without even understanding why they are doing this. The family of a protagonist represents not typical for South Korea model of behavior and proves that family values matter significantly for future person’s development, that influence further nation and country progress. 


The protagonist had very happy childhood despite hardships the family experienced. Already at the beginning of the story he contrasts his father’s family to his mother’s family, giving understanding of different social layers in the society:

My mother had grown up in a well-to-do family, but in her new home, where she had to take charge of everything, there were no decent household goods. The kitchen in particular was equipped with only rudimentary wares. A big cast iron cauldron had a large hole in the bottom. She wondered how her mother-in-law had ever cooked food in it.

However he describes his mother as a woman, who kept all the family together and did her best to make everybody around happy. It is important that parents of protagonist realized the necessity of education and usefulness of it. Further we’ll see the attitude of his uncle to the army, who insured the boy that it is only for those who were not able to finish even elementary school. 

The importance of family value sin this particular family found the realization in the approach to help the children. The parents sometimes had no rice for food, nevertheless they supported the oldest son in his education and sold a farm to support the protagonist. While in war times we could witness the huge amount of young guys or even the elder powerful army generation was not able to read a single book and told to a protagonist “ oh bookworms, how I hate you”. Lack of education is one of the ways to degradation of society, nation and state overall. If those leaders were supposed to become example for young generation, obviously the level of consciousness and moral values will get to lower standards. Police served as one more argument for this. After Japanese occupation situation with Korean policy did not really helped democracy and development. Seems that police have been elected from the same low-educate people who continued corruption and harassment.

“Contrary to the unpleasant relationships that develop in many households, my mother was always close and friendly with her mother-in-law”, that again shows that family of the protagonist was not a typical sample of Korean culture. He emphasizes this opposition and underlines that their family well-being was mostly developed by his mother’s efforts. Their family well-being was quite high towards other nation representatives, who were stuck in the post-war collapse. 

It is important that though mother was keeping the family together, father always remained a dominant person at house, thus keeping the gender roles he same for generations. He provided discipline and strictness, than on one hand might be useful for education, an on the other hand became useful for army life. Discipline in the army in the war times is a very serious issue and some scenes can be very shocking. If we speak about the situation with contaminated water that leaded to stomach disease, and remember sufferings of protagonist, the prohibitions of sergeants to got to toilet look like a torture. Especially knowing that the guy volunteered to the army in a very early age and determinedly fulfilled each training without looking back to his poor physical conditions. The behavior of sergeants does not characterize them in a positive way, even considering the fact that it was war outside. Despite this there were lots of good people who provided shelter and some food to the soldiers. The scene with an old lady from the North Korean side who hidden her sons from the army and who was very kind to the young man from opposite side only proves that family values influence model of human behavior a lot. 

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The situation with a father who was accused in support of North Korea is very important in terms of showing the integrity of the family. Civil wars frequently destroy all the family values and give a weapon for brother or father murdering. There are many examples in history like that. In the case of protagonist, he came back to support his family. There not much information if the father was so radical supporter or  not, however all attention is paid to the relations and emotions and physiological features. 

I didn’t think that many of them were leftists. They were just some neighbors whom I used to know. What’s more, I could not believe that they had been threats to anyone.

The guy even does not have a though to judge people, he is searching for facts and his previous experience to clarify the picture. It is hard to understand why people betrayed each other though survival instinct is very strong in front of death danger. His mom behaved strong enough to be rational and try to save smaller children. They trusted each other and relied on their relatives far away that again is a signal of strong family values which was so hard to keep in those terrible times. The relatives to whom they went for support devoted their help to many refugees and provided shelter, food and other possible assistance.

The family taught the protagonist to be patriotic and devoted to his motherland by their own experience. For instance, he was not able to understand how Korean guy could be an American soldier. There was not even an imaginary picture that there are far places with representatives of his nation. The country itself contained many controversies but leaving to such far places as America seemed impossible for the hero. He went to the army at the age of 16, trying to cheat in order to fulfill his man’s duty to defend his place, his family, himself. The members of his family even did not explain the boy about immigration as their minds were not set up for this. While he saw Korean in American army, he was very surprised. Though plenty of people left Korea for other places and changed their lives.

From the memories of the guy one can see the importance of family values which created his worldview. And his deep inner principles that showed the generosity of soul. Meanwhile many examples of army guys make completely reversed impression. They were cruel, violent, unreasonable, not – educated and lived in world of instincts and animal fights. They represent the issues in the Korean society that leaded to rivals and uncontrolled violence. 

Certainly the well-being of the country, or more correctly lack of well-being, influenced greatly the family values of protagonist in a materialistic dimension. He was separated from them, mother was somewhere, and father was executed, so the guy left on his own. However the whole story, with war disasters he describes, is filled with love and compassion and touches people.  He creates very sympathetic image of South Korean representative. Frankly speaking it is hard to say that he is the only one with such approach , and during the story he describes different people who deserve to be respected and even admired, but it seems that war put people in such conditions that it was hard to preserve humanity and put in over instincts. The personality of an author reminded people who saw a lot of sufferings and became tough and not touchy, that they still have soul and sympathy is a way of expressing humanity inside of you.

 In conclusion, it is important to mention that the story teaches to remain faithful to the values that were brought up in you by your family in any conditions. It shows possibility to be a real man in a very young age, in the terrible war conditions, far from all your previous support and overcome this with dignity and generosity to be father example for representatives of your own nation and country.

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