Grandson honors independence fighter with a book

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Grandson honors independence fighter with a book

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Kim Seok-du

Kim Seok-du’s recent trip to Korea was cause for celebration. The trip also marked a milestone: the publication of the English translation of his grandfather’s book “Haengjangrok” (1974), which recounts his grandfather’s activities in Korea’s independence movement. It was also the first time in 30 years that the 73-year-old former accountant, who immigrated to Los Angeles in 1981, had traveled here with his entire family, including his wife Kim Sun-ae, 73, four sons and two grandchildren.

“I decided to publish an English translation of the book because there are many Korean-Americans who, because they don’t speak Korean well, haven’t had the chance to read about my grandfather’s independence activities,” he said.

“As a Korean, I am ready to dedicate my entire life to fostering national pride in our descendents in America,” he said.

The day of his arrival, Kim visited his grandfather’s grave in Geumdang Village, Seosang Township, Hamyang County, South Gyeongsang.

His grandfather, Kim Hyung-don, whose pen name was Gu Cheon, was active in Korea’s independence movement after the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910. When Gu was 29, he was in charge of military procurements for Lee Seok-yong, the captain of independence military troops in Honam Province (present-day North and South Jeolla). During this time, he even sold his land and used the money to fund the independence movement, sending his family, including his wife and seven children, into poverty.

As a tribute to his grandfather’s activities, Kim wrote about his grandfather’s life for a U.S.-based Korean-American history writing competition last year and won an award for his efforts.

Kim and his wife last visited Korea three years ago to celebrate another milestone: his 70th birthday. He and his wife decided to celebrate the occasion by hiking the Baekdu-daegan Trail, which runs the length of the Korean Peninsula from Mount Baekdu in North Korea to Mount Jiri in South Korea and encompasses the Taebaek and Sobaek ranges. The couple took their time, taking two years to finish their trip. Along the way, they stopped to meet people to spread their passion and patriotism for Korea to the people they met.

That mission is important to Kim and it is one he practices back in the United States.

“To be a successful immigrant as a Korean, we definitely need to adapt to American culture, but never assimilate,” Kim said. “We should not forget the culture, history and manners of Korea.”

Next year, they plan to hike the trail once more as a family with their children and grandchildren.


By Jeon Ick-jin [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“미국 사는 자손들 고국 안 잊게 백두대간 함께 종주”

독립투사 손자 김석두씨

“미국에 뿌리 내린 후손들에게 나라사랑 정신을 전하는 일에 여생을 바칠 각오입니다.”

 30년 전인 1981년 미국 로스엔젤레스(LA)로 이민 간 김석두(73·전 금융인·사진)씨. 그는 지난달 30일 이민 후 처음으로 아내(김선애·73)와 자식 4남매, 손자 2명 등 가족을 이끌고 한국을 방문했다. 독립운동을 한 할아버지 구천(龜川) 김형돈(1881∼1950)의 행적을 기록한 『행장록』(1974년 출간) 한글판 출간 행사를 위해서다. 이날 경남 함양군 서상면 금당리 조부의 산소를 찾아 행장록을 올렸다.

 구천 선생은 1910년 경술국치(한일합방)로 일본에 의해 국권이 침탈되자 29세에 본격적으로 독립운동에 투신했다. 호남지역 의병대장 정재(靜齋) 이석용(1878∼1914) 장군을 도와 군수물자를 조달하는 일을 주로 맡았다. 이 과정에서 고향의 문전옥답을 모두 팔아 독립운동 자금으로 제공했다. 이로 인해 그와 아내, 7남매 자식은 끼니를 걱정해야 하는 곤궁한 삶을 살았다.

 김씨는 “미국에서 자라는 후손들이 한문을 몰라 할아버지의 항일 독립운동 내용을 담은 행장록을 읽고 배울 수 없다는 점이 안타까워 한글 번역판을 냈다”고 설명했다.

 김씨가 후손에게 나라사랑 정신을 심어주기 위해 기울인 노력은 이뿐 아니다. 지난해 10월 LA에서 개최된 ‘제1회 미주 한인 역사 편지쓰기 대회’에 참가해 독립기념관장상을 수상했다. 할아버지의 항일 운동정신을 추념하는 글을 썼다.

 또 2008년부터 지난해까지 2년여 동안 부부가 함께 칠순 기념으로 백두대간을 종주했다. 백두대간의 남한지역 683㎞ 전 구간을 걸었다. 자손에게 나라사랑 정신을 전하기 위해 미국의 산이 아닌 백두대간을 택했다. 내년부터는 자식·손자도 함께 백두대간을 종주하며 애국정신을 새기는 가족등산을 할 생각이다.

 김씨 부부는 “우리 민족이 우수한 미주이민 역사를 이뤄내기 위해서는 미국 문화에 적응도 필요하지만 동화돼서는 안 된다는게 지론”이라고 했다. “그래서 우리의 역사와 문화 전통, 예절, 애국심을 잊지 않으면서 미국사회에서 훌륭한 업적을 세울 수 있도록 자손들을 키울 것”이라고 덧붙였다.

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