On this precious day of 27th, February, 2021, I thank the lord for the survival from my five time crisis of death;
1) at age 5, I was drowned into a rice paddy swamp while I was riding on man made sled during cold winter. I never knew the swamp would never be frozen in cold winter. I found later when I grew up that spring water underground always pumps fresh water from underneath the ground. My neighbor relative found and rescued me struggling to get out of the swamp right before being almost frozen to death.
2) I loved, every morning, exercising on the parallel bars ( 평행봉 틀) and gradually reached the level of 대차. When you do 대차, you have to make it sure your body to come down from upside with two arms stretching out so that two arms are hooked on the parallel bars. If not, your body slips down the ground and risks breaking your neck unless you hide your neck inside your chest. I almost broke my neck and ended in the sudden death.
3) I was serving Korean Army right after finishing a freshman year at Korea University to be well preparing to meet qualification for employment with honorable discharge from military service, and military training in the front of Korean DMZ was so cruel early every morning on the top of high mountain. I was completely exhausted and could not breathe at all and immediately evacuated on a stretcher to first aid camp backward. I almost was dead, without remembering anything.
4) I was invited by the Dept. of State of the United States to continue study in the graduate school in US. I was writing a dissertation for Ph.D. degree on Ricardian Equivalence Theorem in the theory of Public Finance. Without any financial help to support my family with one child, I had to work out my study program with my own expenses and would go to library to research every day from 9 am to midnight, disregarding financial support for my family. Sometimes skipping meal, I spent most of my day at library concentrating on study. Without a good nutrition, eating meals on an irregular basis inadvertently caused a chronic stomachache and gradually built an ulcer, which damaged my stomach severely, combined with stress of poorly supporting my family. Without a green card, my wife could not get a job and could not exercise her experience and skill in computer because of legal status. The condition of my ulcer reached the level of no digestion of foods and my health got worse and sores. Every time I could not digest food I ate, I would drink a coke or 7 up, which aggravated my ulcer. I consulted with a few medical doctors, who diagnosed it as an early symptom of a stomach cancer. My face turned pale the moment when I heard the comments from two doctors and was very saddened with the diagnosis. I had no a life insurance policy. I was getting horribly pessimistic on my future life and began to worry about the future life of my wife and daughter. If the final endoscope examination turned out a stomach cancer, my life would end my long journey at age 31 without any financial support for my immediate family member. This mere fact was hopelessly killing my spirit. Crying would not do anything. After a month of deep agony, I decided to buy a $200,000 life insurance policy without revealing that I had a cancer symptom and was prepared to take a final endoscope test with a strong determination of getting ready for giving up the ghost. My weight declined from 165 lb. to 110 lb, getting very skinny. With mixed feelings of sadness and darkness of my life and family, I could not enjoy eating at all and even could not breathe well, watching my wife and 3-year-old child beside me. My feelings and situation beggar description at that time. But I had to put on a brace face at least to my wife and young child. Counting day by day on the final exam, I was feeling like walking on the valley of death. Giving up all the ambition and hope of my journey to a scholarship and to American dream at my young age terrorized my life. The mere thought of ending my hopeful lie would vanish with thin air drove me into despair. The critical situation forced me to vividly remember my boyhood in the lake of my hometown, the college life at Korea University, that were intended to make my life and world different with a doctoral degree in economics at the American higher educational institution, my military life as an interpreter with 8th US Army Military Advisory Group, the best KATUSA instructor with 8th US Army, a student delegate representing Korean university students that was selected by Department of State, US government, all would vanish with thin air like cloud when I drop dead in my track. The final verdict from an endoscope exam luckily revealed on the final day as 3rd stage duodenum ulcer, not a cancer. How much I was crying then with my wife with an excitement and praying God with thankfulness!
I was newly born on the day and was strongly determined to start a new life; getting done a Ph.D. degree, engaging in philanthropic works in the future to repay my indebtedness through Korean American Foundation (www.kafusany.com), that was founded 25 years later, along with the help of Korean War Veterans who served during the Korean War to defend freedom and democracy. 5) When I was a senior KATUSA INSTRUCTOR with 8th US Army Support Command, Bupyung, Incheon, my school superintendent was Capt. Ron Brown, who was nominated by president Clinton as Secretary of Commerce. We were very close comrade while we were serving in the army, and we maintained our good friendship long ,even after we were discharged. Upon being nominated by president Bill Clinton, he contacted me to work with him in the Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C., remembering our army life in Korea. I wanted to immediately move to DC to work for him under his leadership. I had many painful arguments with my wife, who from the beginning disapproved my moving to Washington, D.C. to take over the job. Her tragic experience with her father who died of a heart attack while he was struggling with revolutionary government never allowed her husband to work for someone at the sacrifice of family life. She lost her beloved father during early 1960 when Military revolution leader General Park Chung Hee took over power and her father was degraded to country side because of his disapproval of military government as a high ranking government official, and he died of a heart attack, which ruined her family future, because of which she chose to live in America. She at any price rejected my ambition to work for US government. Therefore I could not take it and Secretary Brown and his entourage made a special global marketing trip to Europe without me and the airplane carrying him and his staff unfortunately fell in the Mediterranean sea and closed their honorable life mission journey. By not taking the job for his assistant saved my life for good and I thank my beloved wife for her persistent demand for not taking the job. Her advice on the seemingly golden opportunity made me survive today. With those 5 time death crisis I am now still alive and I have done many good social works, the job of human right commissioner, devotion to honoring Korean War veterans for the past 30 years, who made precious sacrifice for freedom and democracy during the Korean War for Korea and Korea’s today economic miracle, With my survival, I have been able to help orphaned and handicapped children in Korea since 2020, along with the help of Korean War veterans under the name of Korean American Foundation USA(www.kafusany.com).
With this gift from God, I have been contributing many articles on political and economic issues around the globe, and published 4 books (Korean and English), raised three beautiful daughters, two grand children, supported almost 500 young children in Korea with scholarships in the amount of $200,000.00 for the past 20 years. In addition I enjoyed writing and posting many essay articles on my column on Korea Times and Joongang Daily News, Koreana News, California, Times Herald Record, New York Times and the Graybeard Magazine, Epoch Times and on many magazines. My Journey to America is not yet ended. I am planning to publish a revised English book before the end of this year. My life is still kicking, playing a golf, driving around valley, mountains, Hudson Rivers, farmlands in Orange County, composing English poems, gardening, and talking and singing with Nature. On my birthday today, I am thankful to the almighty God for His love, grace and protecting me to do those things. All the glory, grace and songs to the Lord. Thank you all my friends who sent me congratulatory messages on this joyful birthday, though all the white snow on the mountain and valley and farmland is accelerating melting down with drizzling raining. Thank you Lord for everything I am enjoying now on my gracious birthday. Also thanks goes to my family for their love, especially my wife and three beautiful daughters God gifted me, and their respect all the time. Amen.
Choam Hubert Hojae Lee
Feb 27, 2021