‘Faith and Love’ in Face of Hardship is the Secret of 71-Year Marriage

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we at Voices were feeling a little sentimental this Friday afternoon. We were delighted by this story in The Korea Daily about a couple who will celebrate their 71st year of marriage next month.

The South Korean couple, Young Soeb Bah, 91, and Young Joo Kwon, 88, wed in Harbin, China on March 3, 1941 and moved to  Palisades Park, New Jersey, in 1980, where they live surrounded by their grandchildren and other family.

In between, however, the couple suffered many hardships, The Korea Daily reports:

After getting married, the couple decided to return to South Korea in 1945. However, when they reached Nampo in North Korea, Bah and Kwon had hit the 38th Parallel — the ceasefire line that divided Korea into North and South — where military forces stopped them from proceeding into South Korea.

They had no choice but to live in North Korea for five years under tight scrutiny. Finally, in 1950, when United Nations peacekeepers moved in to mediate between the two countries, the couple crossed the ceasefire line and set foot on South Korean soil once again.

Ms. Kwon recalled that their time in North Korea was the most difficult period of their lives.

“It was the roughest time I ever had,” he said. “I have vivid memories of my kids walking barefoot outside in the freezing cold and heavy snow.”

The secret to surviving a tough life, Ms. Kwon said, is “faith and love.” That is what gave them the will to overcome their obstacles.

“As the saying goes, ‘After a storm comes a calm.'” Ms. Kwon said. “When the pain is gone, pleasure finally comes. We came to trust in each other. We pulled each other through, knowing that all the work we put in would lead us to twice the happiness someday.”

Mr. Bah said that the greatest thing the couple did was live together without any period of separation, despite difficult circumstances. “As a wife and mother, she faithfully supported our kids and I.”

To Ms. Kwon, a mere “thank you” from her curt husband every anniversary is enough of a gift for her to want to be with him, she said, “for the rest of my life.”

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