The hanbok of Cho In-sook

In order to live,
we have no choice
but to do what we are told to do.

The sunlight glimmering over the beautiful hanbok
seems to whisper,
“May you be blessed and happy, my dear.”
The bride’s clothes were embroidered with flowers
and with blessed characters.
But through the heartless times,
the blessed and happy days withered like petals.

Cho received the satin jacket and silk skirt from her mother-in-law prior to her wedding day.

Cho In-sook
“It was my fifth year in elementary school, so I was 13. I knew nothing about what was going on. But during 4·3, six members of my family died. My father’s older brother, my grandfather’s older brother and younger brothers, and their sons.


One day, I went to school and heard my teacher singing a song titled ‘Liberty or Death.’ But anyone who sang that song was eventually killed. No one was allowed to sing freely. In the lunar equivalent of October that year, all the villagers were told to convene on the school playground. I had never skipped going to school and even received the perfect attendance award. But that day, I had a bad feeling and didn’t go. Feeling somewhat troubled, I was hanging about at home when I heard the familiar sounds: Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! The sound of gunshots, after midnight! I said to myself, ‘Oh, no! What was that about!’ After a while, people returned, weeping, and said that seven of the villagers had been killed. The police forces told them to step forward, and just shot them. It was on the lunar equivalent of Oct. 21. And on the 26th, my uncle and grandfather were also killed like that.


They were respected by the villagers and were considered to be elites. The police arrested them, and my family, to help gain their release, borrowed money that would equate to 1 million won today. My father carried the money pouch under his traditional coat, and my mother carried a jar of nearly 18 liters of honey. My uncle’s wife carried a meal for my uncle, and my youngest uncle followed with a meal for my grandfather. The four people, carrying money, food and honey, got to the police substation only to find out that my grandfather and my uncle had already been killed the night before. The police officers said, ‘There is this group called the Northwest Youth Association, and they supervise us. In order to live, we have no choice but to do what we are told. So, please do not think of us as being evil.’ On our way back home, we saw seven bodies hanging from the pine trees of an open field. The bodies of the deceased were not allowed inside the house. So, we had to leave them in the field as they were.”