From North Korea to South Korea to the US to Thailand

“My father proudly with his hand on the hip of his lady, proud his lady was taller than him maybe?”
A small five-year-old boy stood over the freshly dug gravesite at a Californian cemetery where his mother lay in a coffin. He held a single rose in his hand. As he prepared to drop it into the ground, he couldn’t see from his own perspective. It was strange. He felt like he was watching the rose fall to him instead of falling away from him. The crowd stood apart from the boy, one could see only the boy standing over the hole with a group of somber attendees standing in black. Their hearts went out to the little boy, for they knew that he would have to grow up in this world without a mother.

2022 Date this article was completed.

[1998] Date this article was started.

It all started from stopping a kid from bleeding to death…

Kyong Yol Park. was laying bleeding badly, waiting on death. That was my father. A US marine had saved my father, enabling him to emigrate to the States, and eventually spawning three tiny versions of himself. Had he died there in the wintery plains of North Korea, bleeding out from a shrapnel injury, I would not be here. Therefore, each rippled, well-intentioned deed I enact, is a completely extraneous effort.

A boy lay on the ground bleeding, a piece of shrapnel had penetrated the area next to his jugular.

In the sky above the Korean peninsula, bombs fell from American bombers during the Korean War. General Macarthur and the United States military forces were making their way to the future 38th parallel line, pushing North Korean soldiers back up the Korean peninsula. Bombs struck the ground with deafening roars.

Blood was everywhere. Kyong could feel his life ebbing away. Dust swirled around him and the sound of frantic yelling could be heard. Footsteps drew near. The left side of Kyong’s neck had a hole the size of a walnut with a small but insidious piece of bomb shrapnel. The young boy of 13 years would not survive without immediate aid.

Luckily for this scrawny North Korean kid, a Caucasion, U.S. marine stood over me with a concerned look in his eyes. An American soldier in army fatigues knelt low and groaned at the sight. The soldier was afraid that the boy would die due to blood loss. He did his best to patch him up by applying a gauze bandage and wrapping it around his neck. He knew that if the boy didn’t get a blood transfusion soon, he probably wouldn’t make it.

The soldier carried the young Korean boy to base camp in Seoul.

The boy would have died if not for the soldier.

Generational Strength

A Hand Drops

I am one of the very few North and South Koreans you’ll ever meet. I’m the only one I know.

I was thirteen years old when my father passed away. He was 61 years old. Not growing up with parents has affected me in ways that still hit me like a sledgehammer. It’s funny looking through the eyes of another looking into mine, observing what they may perceive about me as I have grown up without a father and mother.

The day he died, I was playing Super Mario World. My stepmother rushed out into the living room and I immediately knew something was wrong. We ran back to him, as he was laying in the master bedroom, and my stepmother frantically began massaging his limbs, hoping to restore blood flow and his heartbeat. At the time, the only thing I knew how to do was to check his pulse. I checked his pulse for several minutes, feeling nothing but cold, smooth skin.

I slowly turned to walk out front to the presunset afternoon time of the high desert, in Bend, Oregon. I could hear my stepmother continue her efforts in resuscitation as I left the room. Sitting down on the steps, I knew he was gone.

“What’s helped me is that if my father could be watching me now, he would be smiling. If he’s watching, I’d better be damn well be on my A-game, because well, he’s friggin’ watching.”

Anonymous

It’s these sentiments that have pushed me forward through life. When I left the continental U.S. with $240 in my pocket and a one-way ticket to Hawaii, I had absolutely no fucking clue on where I would end up but had dreamt up a fuzzy outline of where I wanted to go.

Go to Korea and find lost relatives.

Hunt for details and specifics of my father’s story that as the years pass, the physical number of people who knew him alive decreases with each unknown familial connection’s death.

Try to pay off this thirteenth South Korean official sitting across from me with a computer monitor facing away from me, contact information of my mother’s siblings displayed just inches from my eyes. No go.

  • Being told to put out my story on the Korean news to find family members. Pffft.

I remember knowing I could have fallen in love with the woman sitting across from me; she was there, with a soft, concerned look on her face and she clutched a copy of my family’s documents. Her eyes said, “I cannot believe you are leaving.”

  • Researching legal avenues to get into contact with family members who don’t even know I exist.

The South Korean Constitution protects freedom of speech and the press of all citizens, without specifically referring to the right to information. The Constitutional Court ruled in 1989 that there is a constitutional right to information as an aspect of the right of freedom of expression. The court affirmed that there is a right to request disclosure of information held by the administrative agencies and that the government is obliged to comply with legitimate requests for information and emphasised that specific implementing legislation to define the contours of the right was not a prerequisite to enforcement of the right.

  • Living 4.5 years there, walking streets he may have walked in Maepo-Dong, South Korea
  • Leaving with a pile of documents, more details to the story, and a new mission.

Travel the world poor, travel the world wealthy; in the place where they treated me the same, that’s where I’d spend the rest of my days. I still haven’t found it. I’m left wondering if it’s even possible anymore. Concluding with, “It doesn’t fucking matter. Live your life. Love your loved ones. Be present.”

Anonymous
The day I met my wife,

Amornrat Pangbubpha on Maui at a ramshackle, but quaint hostel managed by Barry, a delightfully round bearded man, while on my journey of self-discovery: the exit from mainland U.S. at 23 years old. She didn’t like me much then. I was a foreigner to her, a Thai woman who flew across the world to work and study English, who brought burritos for her future husband stuck with little loving notes in broken English. We weren’t able to talk much. Funnily enough, we still don’t, but we love hard. 😀 Fortunately, and what possibly could have saved my life, I ended up chasing her down in Thailand seven years later, getting with her, starting a school with her, getting her pregnant, marrying her, and building a life with her. “The idiosyncrasies in life” (Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting, 1997)…it’s funny when breaking down a decade of life, love, toil, turmoil, and grind into a sentence; when one squeezes the intangibles of life into a few lifeless words to form an electrical storm of synaptic connections and memories.

  • Arriving in Thailand
  • The bedpost gripping diarrhea
  • Months in isolation
  • Teaching on a plastic table

The day we found out we were 13 weeks pregnant with my son, Pharrell Kyong Park, with his middle name from the first part of my father’s namesake, Kyong Yol Park (I still have the picture and can look at the surprised look on our faces anytime).

I had always wanted to be a father, but….this was something I had never anticipated feeling. It broke me and remade me in a split second.

  • Dad life

What have I learned?

What have I done?

Why is it hard? Why is it amazing?

  • The first moment he opens his eyes looking at the world

Left my wife in the operating room. Stayed in the nursery watching my kid. For hours.

  • Teaching him to speak
  • Holding him with my wife
  • Observing Ying and Prapai love him
  • Seeing the effect he has on everyone

That day I realized that I could be a great teacher. After finishing any previous work in the years past, I had always felt the need to blow off steam, complain about why work sucked, and be unsure of what I wanted to do. Then, I started tinkering with students, teaching them and analyzing the inner workings of their minds to figure out how to get them to remember…to develop themselves into something greater. A person is deserving of this chance they’ve been given: a chance to earn what it means to be human.

  • Building a school in Thailand
  • Building a life in Korea
  • Volunteering in China
  • On the road
  • Year 1: IBE →
  • Youtube (800 hours per year versus multiple lifetimes)

The one future day when I realize that letting go of the pain, the wounds, the heartbreak, and strife in exchange for something greater…

  • Hopes for the future
  • What I see in it
  • Where my place is in it
  • Pk’s story

The day I lay with my one cheek on a surfboard, floating in the waves of the Pacific. The image and memory that lulls me to sleep to this very day.

  • Hiking up the mountains of Oregon, Uluru, snowboarding
  • Dancing with friends; living in Oregon with the ‘gang’
  • Volunteering in China at the migrant schools
  • Helping students achieve their goals.
  • Writing essays that get accepted into every tier of university

“A warrior’s destiny is greater than his wounds.”

Brendan Bouchard

Once upon a time, there was a warrior. He was an excellent soldier, very dutiful in his aims and actions, but restless. He would go to war and come back, wandering the streets and landscapes, always in search of something, but never finding it. Then one day, he found a woman. They fell in love. She made him burritos and gave him a son. They gave his life meaning and….a home. The warrior devoted his life to making theirs better and finally, he found peace.

Anonymous

The first time I experienced loss was when my mother passed away.

Her name was Choon Cha Byun. As a South Korean woman just after the Republic of Korea became just that, she was the second generation of a family-owned cosmetics empire in an emerging, rebuilding nation. Maybe that explains why her relatives wanted nothing to do with me or my dad. We came from nothing. His family registry was one page.

She passed away when I was 5. Breast cancer. 1988. My mother had a best friend in our local church, a community of Korean Jehovah’s witnesses. She asked her to be a mother to her boys when she was dying. Min Ja agreed. (She’s currently suffering from dementia and her family tries to take care of her in Torrance, CA). Min Ja married Kyong approximately six months after Choon Cha Park-Byun passed away.

The Privacy Act of 1996 in the Republic of Korea dismantled communication avenues between long-lost family members. Perhaps too many North Koreans tried to contact, con, and swindle their distant South Korean relatives as they snuck back into South Korea between 1950 and 1996.

Who knows?

Generational Strength
  • Who I remember my mother to be. Her smell. Her death.
  • What I got from her. Her link to my oldest brother, Patrick
  • Peter, my bro. Patrick, my bro. Interactions over the years.
  • Sitting on the chair she died in.
  • Growing up in Southern California
  • The stepmother, past, present, and the family connections from it. JW’s warp and the values she instilled in me.

Memories and thoughts as I write this:

  • Dad taking mom to America with the assistance of the soldier
  • Dad meeting mom
  • Dad having Pat and Peter.
  • Dad having me
  • The day I told him I loved him.
  • The day he died.
  • The day I learned he had had a stroke.
  • Every Denver omelet and corned beef hash breakfast.
  • Boxing with him in the dry cleaners
  • Opening up the drycleaners with him
  • Helping customers at 10 years old

–> Building up the business here with each person, InfiniThai, The Agency Foundation

  • My dad being in Maepo Dong
  • The soldier’s friend who enabled him to come to the states
  • Him traveling around Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, thinking that he might have been to some of the places I visited
  • Settling in America
  • The picture at the airport with my mom
  • The times with my step mom and her family. Buying everyone stuff, going camping, enjoying life, being generous – reports from the cousins, aunts, and uncles
  • David’s mom
  • Pismo Beach

We bolster our truths each day, and with them, find beauty.

The little things people do to help one another in this world.

There are people who crawl, walk, and run in life.

Anonymous

About Me, I Guess?

My life is a bonus card. Every person I help is a completely extra effort because, had my father not been saved there on the wintery plains of the DMZ, I would not be here.

My father’s story mirrors mine in many ways. At 13, he was on his own in Seoul, having been adopted by the marine who saved him. At 18, the marine died, and once again he was on his own.

You see in Korea, we do not have birth certificates. We have a registration of all family members within a single tree. My father’s when he met my mother, was one name on one page. My mother’s, was over 50 pages when I obtained it in Korea, on my journey and search for lost family members.

The marine had had a friend. This friend came back to Korea several times over the years to ask my father if he wanted to emigrate to the States. The first two times, he refused. The third time, he agreed.

Why? Because my mother’s family had hated him. He couldn’t have taken care of her. He couldn’t give her a life. He wouldn’t be able to provide what she needed.

In the end, she gave him three boys and her life.

My life, my introduction, and who I am, are deeply mixed. I am a heartless romantic, having lost it so many times over so much heartbreak, to be replaced by a heart of steel and hope for the greater side of humanity.

What was one of your failures?

Prior planning.

When I moved from Oregon to Los Angeles, I drove a 91 Eagle Talon to Orange County and drove it ’till it died. I left a 78 Camaro in Bend, Oregon.

I had bought a Toyota 4-runner in Santa Ana from my cousin. My two friends, Sebastian and Jeremy, were coming with me to visit their family and friends, to return for the start of the school semester.

We drove the 819 miles without a hitch, arriving in Bend, greeting friends, and having a hell of a time.

I didn’t book a Uhaul and a trailer while I was in Los Angeles. During this peak period, students from all over the country pack their belongings into a truck and drive across long expanses with friends and family going to a new stage in life. I had a storage room to empty with a piano and the bed my father died on.

After hours of searching, I eventually found a truck available in a town three hours away…and a trailer for the Camaro in another town an hour away from Bend…in the other direction. That was the first sacrifice. The cost of the drive and usage of the trailer was more than 30% of the value of the car: the motivation to make the trip in the first place. I sold the Camaro to the mechanic who had restored it. Sigh.

Picking up the Uhaul truck and driving to the storage facility, I unloaded the storage room in the crisp autumn of the Northwest. After getting the damn piano and other family furniture into the storage unit, we were ready to leave.

Until we got halfway. When the radiator steamed out in the 4-runner leaving us stranded with a 4-runner, Uhaul loaded to the rims with musical wonderment. I can’t make this shit up.

My friends needed to return, and dealing with the 4-runner and Uhaul was too much. If they left with the truck, they’d have to be responsible for leaving it and arranging transportation. If they got onto a bus and got home, they’d be at school on time. Using the last of my cash, I paid for their bus tickets and sent them on their way, returning to the owner of Skinner’s Roadside Truck Repair.

To replace a radiator on the fly was more money and time I had, so I offered to sell the 4-runner to the gruff mechanic for cash. Carless and in a rented truck, I made my way to Santa Ana, California, with 17 hours to go until the first real estate appraisal reports were due in the morning. I hadn’t written them yet.

I parked in a wide parking lot in a business complex in an urban, commercial area of Orange County, with bordering yuppies and explosive real estate and on the other side, people skirting the poverty line lived in more affordable housing. I stepped outside of the parking lot in the wee hours of the morning and lit a cigarette. The car door closed behind me as I stepped down from the truck…with a click.

So, to make a long story short, I locked myself out of the truck.

Got back into the truck with a hanger and the window trick.

Turned the car back on.

Learned that in diesel engines, it’s hard to start with an old battery and less than a sixteenth of a tank through calling roadside assistance and several trips to the gas station with a one-gallon gas tank.

Wrote 8 appraisal reports during the Real Estate Mortgage Crisis of 2008.

Didn’t sleep.

Finished the day after dinner by driving to my cousin’s house in the valley two hours away to the north in the recently developed “little houses and little cities” in the “burbs” of California.

To which, arriving at 1 am, my very muscular cousin and loan officer of a cousin said, “Ok, let’s unload this {b*%$h].”

A very fast and harrying 90 minutes later, I sat on the steps of his home, nearing 3 am.

Gazing upon the stars and just dirt-tired, I walked inside to take a shower and eat.

To sleep for another day.

I have got to learn how to prepare.

Paul Park, 2006

“At times, I feel as if I am on an island, all on my own, watching people come and go throughout my life. The waves of the ocean and the world swirl around me. Storms come and go. The sun peeks through the clouds in beautiful moments where I can’t but help but appreciate being alive.”

Anonymous

Paul Park is the son of a North Korean War refugee and a deceased heir of one of the cosmetics companies to thrive post the establishment of the demilitarized zone at the 38th parallel north. Born and raised in America, both of his parents passed away before his 13th birthday, completely disconnecting him from genetic family ties other than his two brothers. Independently, he chose to stay in Bend, Oregon to finish high school as opposed to moving to his birthplace, Los Angeles, California with his stepmother. With a 90-day experiment in eating only ramen noodles and restaurant family meals, and a ten-dollar weekly budget for food, he graduated from Mountain View High School on the honor roll while working at three different part-time jobs. The next decade represented education, LA life, Hawaii, surfing, exploring the world, setting up language institutes in Korea and China, along with orchestrating volunteer programs in the dead of Beijing winters to finally seek Thailand; to seal the deal of his love: a quiet Thai woman (Amornrat Pangbubpha) who had extreme reservations about him at first, meeting him at a random hostel on Maui (2007) so many years ago. As of the time this biography is written, Friday, June 17th, 2022, he is the proud father of two: Pharrell Kyong Park (PK), and his second, Phoenix Yol Park (Pyp).

Paul Park believes that with enough drive, dedication, discipline, and freedom to let one’s mind accomplish its aptitude… are all laser-focused towards acting with purpose, purpose with action, that humans throughout the world are just waiting to be found, as diamonds in the rough, waiting for a catalyst to shake off constraints in order to build, to create, and to improve our lives and the environments around us.

“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who measure their self-worth through the eyes of others and do not know what they want, getting stuck doing what they must. I choose to measure my life in my deeds, actions, and purpose…to know what I want, then do what I must.”

Paul Park

Wrapping Up…I Swear

When I look at the way I learn and absorb information, I think I see them as executable skills with given resources and time, with application and experimentation of concepts prioritized in line with the above factors. If I had to define what the next four years would do to any brain, with more synaptic connections than atoms in the entire universe, I am truly hoping structures grow, adapt, and make connections in the dark and light, science and arts, technology and human behavior, and research and business.

I have found that the people and I are a bit different. Seeking independence through my knowledge and skills, evolving to mobility throughout the systems of the world, I observed insights and collaborative teamwork with the why and vision in mind. In a world where the duality of business objectives can be categorized as two concepts, one must adhere to a code of honor, a code of ethics in instruction on how a student or person molds information in their mind to execute their aims in life…their vision of what it is supposed to look like…mine starts here from:

“The throes of emotion on this complex journey of life entails the expansive encompassing experience of humanity, detailed through the beats and vocal expressions of people on topics from each and every life…”

Anonymous

to

Be a good dad.

to

Dancing in the mornings with my son.

then,

Watching him get hurt.

Next,

Thinking of hiding the fact I was living on my own when I was young to not be sent to an orphanage.

to

$10 USD a week for food + job meals

Thinking,

“Spaghetti is my comfort food. A good grocery market budget is needed.”

finally to,

Working as an accountant in the mornings, grading quizzes at lunch to learn, missing 25% of school days,

then speeding up to driving and working, building a life and a community?

Bringing me back to the present: my simple happiness:

Writing for you.

Hanging out with my wife, and dancing with my sons.

Building a school for them and others.

Helping people achieve their dreams.

The Bubble Language School scholars: Love, Hero, and August, Apple and Frank, Fahsai and Kana, Max and Tonnam

Loopholes and ability – we exist in a world with limitless opportunities, exponential with the Internet in a way that’s never been before.

1,000 years from now, people will look back and look for two things: authenticity and ability.

A Starfish Story

One At A Time

A friend of ours was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he grew nearer, he noticed that the local native kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things out into the ocean.

As our friend approached even closer, he noticed that the man was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water.


Our friend was puzzled. He approached the man and said, “Good evening, friend. I was wondering what you are doing.”

“I’m throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it’s low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don’t throw them back into the sea, they’ll die up here from lack of oxygen.”

“I understand,” my friend replied, “but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don’t you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?”

The local native smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, “Made a difference to that one!”

Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hansen
  • Never lay down and quit. Adapt and prioritize. Excuses or outcomes. There can only be one.
  • Be nice and seek to understand people.
  • Does your life create bonuses? Utility? Value? Which camp are you in?
  • Do you build?

Or

Do you repackage originality?

You see, in my life, I may have been resourceful and adaptive, and yes, it may be a fun story. However, what I have learned is…

Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

Best Regards,

Paul Park

Timeline of Events

2017 Bubble Language School engages with Wat Rat and Wat Bak Por

Phoenix Yol Park, Nix, Pyp is born.

Pharrell Kyong Park, Pk, K is born.

Paul marries Fah Faori.

2015 Bubble Language School is established.

Paul settles in Thailand with Fah Faori

Paul travels in Asia

Paul moves to Beijing, China

Paul moves to Seoul, Korea

Paul moves to Maui, Hawaii, and meets Fah Faori.

Paul moves to Los Angeles, CA

Courier

Waits tables

Makes coffee

2001 Paul graduated from high school.

1998 Patrick and Peter leave Bend, Oregon to go back to California

Paul lives with his two brothers, Peter and Patrick in Bend, Oregon.

1996 Date of Kyong Yol Park’s Death – Los Angeles, CA

1994 The Park Family moves to Bend, Oregon. Patrick and Peter remain in Los Angeles.

1992 Los Angeles Riots – family drycleaners burns to the ground in Los Angeles, CA. Manchester?

1989 Date of Choon Cha Byun’s Death

1983 Paul Hun Park was born.

1973 Peter Hun Park was born.

1971 Patrick Hun Park was born.

Apr 1971 Pic in the Airport – it was a trip. They traveled. There’s a picture of a bridge (possibly the Golden Gate bridge–update: it’s the Bridge over the River Quay in Thailand

Emigrated to the US, Visited SF,

Restarted in Los Angeles, California, USA

Met Choon Byong Cha

1950-1964

Vietnam

Left Korea

Friend of US Marine keeps in touch with Kyong.

1953 in South Korea, Maebong?, Korea – US Marine dies. 18 in South Korea.

Semi-adopted by the US Marine

DMZ established.

Kyong went to the US base in Seoul.

Korean War – Kyong got hit with shrapnel.

19xx Choon Cha Byun was born.

1935 Date of Kyong Yol Park’s Birthday – Near Inchon

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