After too long of a gap, I have restarted my work together with my mom, on the translation of the compilation of my father’s writing, People on the move on the 401. I’m still at the very beginning and not yet into anything that he wrote. Inside the book jacket is a sparse “About the Author” blurb with some basic facts written by one of his university colleagues.
About the Author ( of People on the move on the 401)
Suk Yong Kwak was born in April 11, 1936 in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan. In 1945 after liberation, his family moved to Korea.
As he learned the Korean language in school for the first time, he became aware of his Korean identity and thus chose to focus on Korean literature in middle school and high school. He gained admission into Seoul National University and studied Korean Language and Literature from 1955-1961. After graduating, he taught Korean at Yongmun High School for a few years.
In 1968, he immigrated to Ottawa and married Ok Ryong Byun and then moved to London, Ontario to attend graduate school at University of Western Ontario where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Library Science.
In 1972 he moved to Toronto where he lived the rest of his life. He worked at a real estate company until November 1990. During times of illness, he received devoted care from his wife until his death on December 11, 1996.
This left me with basic questions that my mom and uncle helped to answer. For instance, how did my dad’s family come to be in Japan and what were they doing there? The details are very limited, but here is what I learned. My great grandfather was a gem cutter and moved to Japan to work. To this day, Yamanashi is known for its crystal crafting industry. My grandmother went to Japan to work as a domestic worker. My paternal grandparents had 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters in Japan before moving to Korea and they had four more children, 3 more sons and 1 more daughter in Korea. They had made enough money in Japan to buy land in Korea where they farmed growing grapes and ginseng.
My dad’s university studies took him to the city of Seoul. Not being fulfilled with a life teaching high school, he began work as a journalist at a women’s magazine. In 1965, he met my mother through a letter she wrote in response to an article he had written. He had written about the loneliness at the turn of the year when you are a 30 year old bachelor. Many letters came in and he put one aside tucking it into his jacked pocket and tracked this woman down. They had their first date on Valentine’s day.
Two years later, on March 26 1967, my mom came to Ottawa to work as a nurse at the Ottawa General Hospital. My dad arrived in Ottawa just a few days before their wedding day, March 9,1968. My two brothers and I would come into the picture a few years later.