Forever Alien

A Korean Memoir, 1930–1951


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About the Book

Korean native Sunny Che spent most of her early childhood in Japan, where she and her family were treated as outsiders. She returned to Korea, only to find herself a stranger in her homeland. This memoir is the story of her personal struggle amidst the crucial events enveloping Asia at midcentury. Part I chronicles her childhood in Japan and the beginning of the war in the Pacific. Part II describes her return to Korea, the turmoil of Korea’s liberation from Japan, and the Korean War.
From a schoolgirl’s perspective, Che describes events both global and intimate. She depicts the alienation and chaos of war and migration, as well as the domestic trials of a family seeking not merely to survive but to hold on to their heritage. Her story is at once a unique perspective on history and a moving chronicle of her own childhood, providing a detailed picture of diverse cultures irrevocably changed by two devastating wars.

About the Author(s)

Political activist Sunny Che was the 1996 recipient of the Democratic Achievement Award by recommendation of Senator John Glenn. She lives in Worthington, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Sunny Che
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 261
Bibliographic Info: photos, map, index
Copyright Date: 2005 [2000]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2154-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5130-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Part 1: A Korean Childhood in Japan, 1930–1944

1. Korean Roots     3

2. Wandering Koreans     6

3. Fukui     9

4. Life in Fukui     12

5. Mother     23

6. Going to School     29

7. Death of Mother     38

8. The Third Grade     43

9. Stepmother     45

10. Moving to Nagoya     50

11. New Home in Nagoya     53

12. Life in Nagoya     57

13. The Coming War with America     63

14. Pacific War     67

15. Graduation     70

16. Middle School     75

17. War Time     78

18. Going Home     87

Part 2: Growing Up in Korea, 1944–1951

19. So This is Korea     93

20. Pohang     99

21. Life in Pohang     101

22. My Favorite Aunt     108

23. My Father’s Brothers     111

24. Wonju     117

25. My Government Work     123

26. The Last Throes of World War II     129

27. Peace at Last     139

28. The Family Tragedy     150

29. Seoul     157

30.The Return of Duli     164

31. Carpenter Lee     168

32. Running Away from Home     171

33. Miss Laird     176

34. Methodist Mission School     181

35. Summer of 1949     200

36. The Prep School     209

37. The Korean War     216

38. Tongsan     224

39. Taegu Churches Evacuated     228

40. Pusan     232

41. Working for Uncle Sam     235

42. The Last Days in Korea     245

43. Goodby, Korea     248

Index     251

Book Reviews & Awards

Florence Roberts Head Award— Ohio Library Association
“a delightful coming-of-age memoir and a unique perspective on a tumultuous era in modern Asian history”—Booklist; “offers a candid and illuminating account of a remarkable personal odyssey…[a] stunning memoir”—Ohioana Quarterly; “powerful narrative…valuable”—Pacific Affairs; “Sunny Che is a solid writer, and she does a skillful job of linking the narrative of her personal life with local events and world affairs…quite a remarkable story, a heartfelt read”—Korean Quarterly; “Fascinating and colorful…a poignant narrative.”—Dr. Anna Charr Kim, National-Louis University.