Monday, July 6, 2009

Chi Kyun Jhee Autobiography

Chi Kyun Jhee, D.D.S.

Birthdate: May 7th, 1930
Birth Place: #59 Chojang-Dong, Kwanju-Myun, Jungju-Kun, PyungAn-Buk-Do, (North) Korea

1937 Myung-Dong Primary School, North Korea
1942 Sunchon Asai Primary School, North Korea
1946 Sunchon, Shing Sung High School
1947(2/13) Escape to South Korean at 17 years old
1950(6/25) Korean War (1950-3)
1954 Seoul Techinical High School Graduation, South Korea
1957 Seoul National University School of Dentistry Graduation
1977 California Dental Lincense (U.S.A)

1957-1964 Korea Army Dental Service (8 years)
59 Evacuation Hospital
43 Surgical Hospital (US)
3rd Army Hospital
Army H.Q. Dental Office (1964 July - Retired as Captain

1964-1975 Jhee's Dentistry
Kyung-Gi-Do, Inchon-Si-Buk-ku-BuPyung-dong 235
South Korea

1975 April, 28 Immigration to Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A
1975-1977 Prepare for California Dental License Examination
1977 California Dental License
1977-2004 Dr. Jhee's Dental Office
3352 West Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
2004 August Retired

2009 (February 22) Honorary Elder at LA Open Door Presbyterian Church

Family Tree
Yang Bo Jhee/Kim Ssi

Ist son( Byung Koo Jhee 1880-1946 marries Byung Hyun Cho 1894-1989) 2nd son Run Koo Jhee/Lee Ssi

Byung Koo Jhee's line
2nd son (ChiKyun Jhee marries Young Ja Park), 1st daughter Tae Ik Jhee, 2nd daughter Song Sook Jhee, 1st Son Chi Ryun Jhee

Chi Kyun Jhee's line
1st son Dennis (Soung Soo)Jhee/Eunice Jhee- Jeremy Jhee, Elijah Jhee
2nd son Stanford Jhee (Soung Jin) Jhee/Min Jung Jhee - Leslie Jhee, Haley Jhee
Daughter Eun Jhee

Chi Ryun Jhee's line (north Korea)
1st son Han Young Jhee
2nd son Woon Young Jhee

Tae Ik Jhee's line (Brazil)
1st son Jung Woong Park married Bok Chun Kim
2dn son Jung Ho Park married ABC.

Song Sook Jhee's line (U.S.A)
1st son Jung Hun Kim married Mak Ne Kim has daughter Eun-Hae/Grace

Our family name, Jhee was originated by 1st father, Kyung Jhee, who immigrated from China to Korea to live until 103 years old. It has been about one thousand year ago. The 6th generation forefather move to Choong Chung-do, central Korea, and originated the name "Chung-Joo Jhee." Since then, the descents flourished throughout Korea.

I would like to let our descendants (Soung Soo, Soung Jin, Eun, Eunice, Min Jung, Se-Moon, Se-Min, Leslie and Haley) know the family roots and be proud. I pray this to God.

I wish and pray to God for my Jhee's family who came to the U.S. on April 28th, 1975. I hope they flourish like the Puritans from England in 1620 who came purely for their faith.

The story of my life...

Childhood years (1930-1940)

I was born at #59 Chojang-Dong. Gwanju-myun, jungju-kun, pyungan-buk-do (province in N. Korea) as a son between my father (Byung Koo Jhee) and my mother (Byung Hyun Cho) on May 7th, 1930.

Our village consisted of only ten houses. The backyard was covered with little steep mountains where tigers roamed. And in front of the house, there was a wide and large field where we rice farmed. In Autumn, the fully riped rice plants became a golden wave, attracting many beautiful red dragon flies. In the middle of this field, there was a long river which led to the sea. I spent lots of time at the beach of this river named River Sa Song with my village friends- swimming, fishing and wrestling together. At 7, my mother told me suddenly that I had to attend school. Up until then, I never thought of studying. I was afraid and did not even know the location of the school. My mother was angry about my disinterest in school. I was registered at Myungdong Primary School with the help of my elder sister, Song Sook. Once I attended, I found myself enjoying many friends and the big school playground. In the summer, I would walk bearfooted some 30 minutes to school through narrow roads in the valley.

We were under colonial rule by Japan. We had to study only in Japanese language using Japanese textbooks. We were punished for speaking Korean at school. After school, we would speak Korean at home.

We were not well off during my early childhood years. We lived in a small cottage (a straw house) in two rooms with my father, mother, elder brother/his wife and children and elder sister. There were no tooth brush, soap, or bath facilities with insuficient water supply, especially during winter. But I didn't mind being poor. My parents were busy farming and I was living a happy life. My older brother graduated from a 6-year primary school and married early to have 2 boys, my nephews Han Young and Woon Young. In Autumn, my older brother and I would go to the mountains to collect firewood and pine needles cones for for heating during Winter. I could not forget the beautiful echoes from our bamboo-made pipe, playing as we return home from the mountain.

He was eager to learn so I tried to sending letters hoping to receive English and math books. I remember my poor brother could not study due to his our poverty and his need to help with farming. My two older sisters were already married. I had a pleasant memory of Autumn windy days with my sister, Song Sook, when we used to go early in the morning to the mountains collecting fully riped, dark brown chestnuts. My grandfather was better off than anyone in our village. He was tall and handsome. I would see him in his room reading books all the time. My uncle and aunt used to carry me on their back around the village giving me lots of love. My grandfather lived until 83 years old. My uncle lived until 75. Because he did not have any child, he married another women to have a child. They all lived in my grandfather's house with a tiled-roof- considered to be a rich man's house at the time.

When I was 10, my mother decided to move to the city of Sun-Chun which was the second largest city in Pyung An Northern Povince. This was to further my education. But my grandfather was very much against the idea since our family had always farmed for a living. However, my mother convinced him into moving to the big city - Sun Chun. We finally sold our farm to buy a big, beautiful house in Sun Chun. The house had 4 bedrooms and 3 kitchens. We can see the beautiful Mt. Dae-Mok sitting from our living room. The mountain would turn all red during Autumn -changing colors. I remember sitting in the living room drawing the beautiful mountains with crayons.

My sister was only 15 years old. She and my mother had a rough time educating me. We had 9 students boarding with us. Every morning, the students were busy with washing and brushing their teeth at our big well. These students came from all over and were very well off. It was very different from our old village where I spent the first 10 years of my life. First of all, everything was bright due to the electric lights and I found myself using soap and tooth paste, instead of salt. Taking hot bath was during winter was also new to me. There were also book stores, bakery shops, ice cream, etc... I was very delighted seeing everything that I needed.

I attended a well known Japanese Asahi Primary School. All the subjects were in Japanese language. All the books were of high quality, well designed prints. I studied hard to be the head of class for 3 consecutive years. The teachers were very strict, hitting us with wooden whips if we cause trouble. There were 20 girl students and 30 boy students, 50 in all. We all sucessfully finished studying and graduated.

My junior high school was at first at SunChun agricultural school, then I transferred to Shin Sung Missionary School. I played in the school's soccer team and was loved by the teachers and fellow students. At the liberation of Japanese reign in 1945, Kim Il Sung's communist Government started to rule North Korea. Only communism was taught at the school. My mother, after long thought, decided to escape to South Korea. We could only afford corn, but my mother made a special rice porridge before sending me off to the South. I could not eat, fighting tears streaming down my face. Since I was so young, my mother arranged for a young couple to accompany me. We couldn't even say our good-byes fearing that the communists would catch us. If caught, we would surely be killed being drafted by the communist army.

I got on the train and took my seat. My beloved brother could not express his farewell but only pretended to look at the train. It was the last chance for us to share our brothership. The train rushed to Pyong-yang, capital of communist North Korea without hesitation. In the meantime, I cried and cried leaning against the train window fearing being caught by the communist army. After getting off the train, I climbed over the winter mountain around the 38th parallel over 2 days with the help of a man. Soon, I stepped over to South Korea's territory. I cried more, desperate, to find my older sister who came before me. Luckily, I found her in Seoul through Kaesung city bounded train. There was a refugee camp located in front of a catholic church. This camp was supported by Young-Nak presbyterian church providing food and shelter. We realized that this was all possible through the generosity of American missionaries help. After I reunited with my sister and mother, we started a new life, settling in Wonhyo-ro. I attended Seoul Technical high school as a 2nd year student. Just as I was preparing to apply to Seoul National University, the Korean War ("youk-ee-o" June 25) broke out. With God's mercy, we were able to cross the Han-River over to Suwon city to catch the last train bound for south. For 3 days and nights, we starved on the train, reaching Busan city. There were so many refugees that we had to move to Masan. There was no place to sleep. We would just sleep on the straw bag sack on the streets. Because of the fighting, we were forced back to Busan. Again, we slept at such open places as sea-shores, under the bridge and on streets. The refugee camp was our only choice but the food was scarce and of poor quality, making us ill.

I was too weak and in bad health to join the Korean Army. All the young men who joined were killed in the battle fields along with 50,000 U.S. soldiers who also sacrificed their lives. We were thankful to General Mc Arthur for the successful war missions allowing us to return to Seoul. Despite the fact that we were on a cargo, we were happy to return, after a long separation to reunite with my mother in Seoul. I was suffering from diarrhea. My mother somehow found 6 tablets of guanidine to restore my health. I was always thankful for God's grace over me.

With good food and environment, I became more and more healthier every day. I applied to 35th Infrantry Regimen, 5th Division Army on September 28th, 1950 and joined on the march to North Korea in the Winter. We were all senior high students. We got on a train full of barbed wire, entangling our pants and shoes. We were so cold that we could not even complain about the wires. We were only students but found ourselves dropped off at the army camp and instructed to fight with guns for our country. We got up at 6 AM and were given 10 minutes to get ready for our morning running. We would get hit if we were late. For breakfast, we picked up one rice ball standing in long lines besides the mountain. On the first day, I could not even chew the cold rice and spit out the iced rice. After several day, we had to pass a physical examination for formal enrollment to the army. After the examination, the doctor passed me but upon return to camp, I noticed my swollen feet. I quickly returned to the doctor showing my ailment. He re-examined me and disqualified me. I was the only one among the 300 to return home. It was a moment of life or death. I later learned that most of the students were killed in the battle fighting against the Chinese army with very little military training. This was the January 4th, 1951 Retreat or "il-sa-hoo-tae."

We took refuge in Tae-gu city with my mother and sister. They had to sell goods on the road-side to support the family during the bitter cold winter. I really did not do much, not having fully recovered from diarrhea. While I was wondering the neiborhood, I came across a smiling boy (about 15) who asked my name. When I gave him my identification, he introduced to work at the American Air Force - Officer's restaurant. My job was to wash spoons and forks using warm water in a nice restaurant. It was an easy job washing utensils 3 times a day. The big bonus was eating the same officer's meal 3 times a day just like them. I never ate such good food and even took daily showers before heading home. All this and got paid every 15 days at the personnel department. I was grateful to God for this opportunity. My mother and sister moved to Busan but I remained in Tae-gu. Within 2 months, my health improved dramatically and some even called me a handsome boy. There were many beautiful waitresses between 17 and 20, some in high school and some in colleague. They all spoke English well. It was great working among garden of lovely girls. While I was busy at work, it was very lonely at home after work. There were no radio, newspaper or telephone. Then I met Ms. Lee who was the most beautiful and good natured girl. Dating her made the loneliness go away and I was enjoying life until trouble loomed. The police were our searching for young men to recruit for the military. Many young men were already caught for draft. When Miss Lee found out, she requested the Personnel Department to send me to Seoul. I was Seoul bound by air 3 days later.

Upon arriving at Seoul, I went straight to the Medical college, Seoul National University which was converted and used for U.S. 5th Air Force Headquarter. Inside the building, there was a fancy restaurant where I often saw pilots returning from bombing North Korea. After 18 days, I saw Ms. Lee among the girls who came from Taegu city. I was so pleased to see her again here in Seoul. Because her home was in Taegu with all her family there, I was afraid she would not be able to come to Seoul. She was of average height with clear, white facial features. She was very cute and charming. In addition, she was polite, good in English and had a great personality. She was perfect for me in many ways. We were very luck to have such wonderful food during the war time. Here, I was transferred to being a "house boy." My job was to change the seat cover, clean and run errands. The job was easy and I had lots of freedom. And I could see Miss Lee often since we worked in the same area.

While enjoying my life, two policeman from the Personnel Office came to see me. They gave me a military draft notice. I was alarmed. This just happend so suddendly that I cried and cried, unable to go to work. By next morning at 5 AM, I was to appear at the East Gate Police station. There were about 200 men and we were all put on a freight train with no window or lights enroute to Kunsan city in Chulla-do. When we arrived, there were more than 1000 men we were recruited from various districts. Upon my physical examination, I reported my hemorrhoids hoping to get disqualified. He accused me of lying and hit me. The doctor then asked me what school I attended. I told him that I graduated from Seoul Technical High School. He instantly rejected me. I could not believe my ears. Only 35 men out of 1000 got dismissed. I was one of them. The rest went to the front line of war - to be killed. I have been a Christian all my life and meditate Psalm 23 " The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want. Though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil..." I am grateful to God for leading my life.

After returning to Seoul, I had to move to another location. I met my old friend who convinced me to go to the U.S. 92nd Artillery Battelion to apply for a civilian job. At first, I was emotionally disturbed by the cannons firing. I cried every night, longing for Miss Lee in Seoul. Things got better as time passed. The Spring came with beautiful azalea on the mountains, birds singing and water flowing in the brook. It was a peaceful sight of nature. The dreadful war ended finally on July 31st, 1953 and I parted with Captain Stelma. I returned to Busan, not Seoul, to seek my mother and sister after 2 years of being apart. We found each other and were full of joy. I finished my high school and passed the examination to be accepted to Seoul National University, Dental college.

For four years, I lived with my elder sister. In spite of being poor, I recall living a very calm and peaceful life. We went through such hardship during the war that we appreciated the peace. I lived in Yongsan-ku and devoted my days to study with my sister's support. There were 100 students in my class, 10 of them females. My was doing well, always in the top 10 of the class. My professors would flatter me in class " Student Jhee scored perfectly on my test." I frequently helped teach my fellow students. After graduating on Arpril 28th, 1957, and a 2 month training at the Army Medical Academy in Masan, I became 1st Leutenant in the Army.

My first place of work was the 59th Evacuation Hospital located at Yangsu-ri district. I served as a Army dentist, putting my studies to practice and taking care of patients. After work around 5pm, I had spare time enjoying dinner, coffee and dancing afterwards. During college, I had a chance to learn to dance and this became useful during my military days. We frequently visited famous dance halls where we saw many movie stars, politicians and business people.

I received further training a the U.S. 43rd Hospital on wheels which was located at Eujung-bu after which I was tranferred to the 8th MASH, located at Wonju city.

After working at the front line for 3 years, I was promoted to a captain and was again transferred to a Army Hospital in Busan. My mother lived in Busan with my sister and we were now able to all live together in this beautiful city with nice weather. Our hospital was one of the largest in Korea with 1000 beds, 30 Army doctors, 30 MSC officers, and 30 nurse officers. I was working in the Prosthetics division of the Dental Department. The chief of our department was a Major. I was a captain with 3 Leutenant offices under me. I treated as many patients as possible in preparation for my civilian career as a dentist. Every weekend, I went to the famous hot springs, to the movies, coffee shops and visit famous dance hall named Baikjo (White Swan). My mother was eager for me to be married. She would arrange for me to meet girls, sometimes requiring long trips to Seoul by taxi. I was introduced to many girls after graduating college. It was not as easy as I thought. My bride had to be first pretty, second healthy and third has good character and family background. So this took much time.

My mother and I led a happy life in a very beautiful and clean house. For those 3 years, I gained lots of clinical experience treating army patients and their families. I finally got promoted to the dental section chief working at the commander's office at the Army headquarter, moving us to Seoul with my mother. This hospital served patients of high ranking officers such as field grade officers and generals. I took great pride in working there. All doctors here had excellent techinque and were very dignified.

It was 1962 and I was 32. My sister song-sook was living in Bupyung city. She called me to introduce to a girl. So, next day I went ther by Jeep with my military attire and met the girl with her mother. She sat there with her head down, too shy to look at me. This was the first time seeing such a shy girl. Only when I told her "I should get going" she raised her head to show me her beautiful face. Two days later, we went on a date in Seoul. She was a senior in college, studying music at Kyunghee university. We were engaged in two months and in the following month of March, 24th 1963, we got married. Dr. Il Sun Yoon, the president of the Seoul National University presided over the wedding.

On July 31st, 1964, I got discharged from 8 years of Army service and started my own dental practice in Bupyung, Inchon. The practice lasted 10 years. During this time, I attended Inchon Eastern Presbyterian Church and became a deacon. Every Saturday evening after work I would go to the flower shop to buy flowers for the Sunday service decoration.

On January 25th, 1964, my first Son Soung-Soo was born. On June 7th, 1966, my second son, Soung-Jin was born. And on October 27, 1970, my daughter Eun was born. My mother worked hard to help raise the children but she later recalled that those were the best years of her life. The dental practice was doing well and I made enough money to buy my own house and land near by. I started to think about immigrating to the U.S. to better my children's future. I was 45 and this was the last chance to make this important move. Since I had to study again in America to get my license, I thought long and hard about moving to America. On April 28th, 1975, we finally left for the States.

My children were excited about going to America without really knowing what's going on. On our way to Los Angeles, we stopped by Hawaii for immigration registation. Upon arrival to LA, we stayed one night with our friend's house. My second son, with unfamiliar surrounding got out of bed and cried wanting to return home. We moved to a two bedroom apartment in the West Hollywood area on Santa Monica blvd for $240/month. My wife started to work at the garment factory. Two boys attended school and Eun stayed at home with me. I studied to obtain my dentist license. There were 2 exams per year and there were 3 steps of examinations. If I failed one test, I had to wait another 6 months. My foreign dentist took more than 2 years to pass. I studied very hard day and night. With God's help, I obtained my California dental licensed in 22 months. I opened my new and fancy office on Olympic Blvd with a bank loan (UCB bank). We also bought our house near Santa Monica beach about 9 miles away from the office. My wife and I worked there for 27 years (1977-2004). We opened daily except Sunday at 9 AM. I did my best to give good care to my patients. While I was working very hard, my sons graudated from college and went on to graduate schools. Soung Soo went to New England College of Optometry in Boston and graduated in 1992. Sound Jin graduated from the Pharmaceutical Department at the University of Southern California Graduate School. He became the Research Director of California Clinical Trials. Eun graduated from USC Physical Therapy School with M.S. and is working at Shriner Hospital as a physical therapist. My grandchildren Jeremy jhee is 11, Elijah 5, Leslie 5 and Haley is 1 year old.

As your father and grandfather, I would like to leave His word of prosterity. It is Mathew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

I really want you to give for Him and to get blessed by Him. Observe the Lord's day (Sunday). Read the bible, and listen to Him and you will succeed. Resist temptation. Don't get involved in worldly ways and set good example as Christians.

When I go to heaven, I will continue to pray for all of you. For your health and blessings. My prayer will be " My loving God, please bless Jeremy, Elijah, Leslie and Haley, lead them not into temptation but deliver them from earthly evil and may they enjoy good health."

Finally, I would like to leave the following words to Jeremy, Elijah, Leslie and Haley. "Always read Psalm Book One throughout your Junior, Senior and college years."

I love you all!

Chi Kyun Jhee
March 22, 2008