1944 or 1945: Born in Pyongyang

As they say in the Buddhist tradition, I was “reborn” a girl in war-torn Pyongyang, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). My grandfather, Song Sang-Chum, named me “Soon-Young.” It means “peace forever.” My mother, Yoon Kyung-Shyn, couldn’t remember if I was born in the Year of the Monkey or the Year of the Chicken. That has puzzled fortune tellers ever since.