My earliest birth memory of Korea would be that of the orphanage where I stayed for about 8 months before I got adopted. I did remember it would get really cold during winter and that I often wore a thick coat or some sweaters and my nose would get wet, then my sweater would get wet too because I kept wiping off my nose. I remember I would play with kids and I liked playing with swings in the playground. I also remember the lady, a bomo, who would watch us while we slept and more than that, she would beat me with a newspaper rolled into a baton if I couldn’t fall asleep and I would stay down on the floor and watch her and the small fluorescent lamp that was alongside her. She always seemed to have books with her so I guess she was reading or studying, maybe for the college entrance examination and I’d ruin her concentration with my sleeplessness on many nights. Then I’d finally fall asleep.
Another memory I had of the orphanage was how I’d notice some kids would become “missing” so to speak. Like I’d find some kids who didn’t mind playing with me since I couldn’t hear and I’d look out for those kids till they disappeared. Where did they go? I wondered. One time when I finally got big enough to be able to get up on the high balcony that was by the window, probably my favorite spot of the orphanage as I can pretty much see everything what’s out in the world. It was on a second floor. I saw a small white truck out there and almost every morning, the guy would park by the curb, get out of the truck, get around to the back and haul something out of it. Light white air (actually just a cold steam) would come out of the truck’s rear and I had no idea what the guy was doing. I thought that must be how kids disappeared, as the man got the kids and dumped them into there. I told myself I would stay away from the truck or hope not to get caught and be put away by that truck. When I visited Korea again in 2002, I saw the same kind of truck again….and it was just a delivery food truck. So much for my own imagination.
Next and last memory I had in Korea was of the plane I was abroad on. I remember how everything was in a rush because my bomo was buttoning me up with everything, from my shoes to my coat, and put on a hat and I saw my clothes being folded into a suitcase and my bomo just kept grabbing my hand and pulling me around and I finally got into a car. My bomo had some tears on her face, knowing that she won’t be bothered again by my annoying presence. Then we got on the plane. I remember it was mostly red inside, lights off for most of the time and that it was a very long flight.
The plane finally touched down on the ground and when I stepped out of the plane and walked down the tunnel, and at the end, my parents and I met for the first time ever.