Art · My Creations

Day 27: A framed work of art

green crown cho young hwi
Green Crown, by Cho Young Hwi

Okay, technically, this is absolutely not my own work at all. The painting wasn’t created by me. The framing wasn’t done by me. Even the nailing to the wall wasn’t done by me. But I had to make this a post because of how much value this piece holds for me, for more than monetary reasons.

My maternal grandfather painted this piece, which he titled “Green Crown,” back in August of 1984, just before I was born. He’s also painted many, many other pieces, but this is his personal favorite. And I was honored and moved to tears when he chose to gift this one to me.

I’ve always known my grandfather to be a kind but very strict man, who holds himself and others to excessively high standards and is extraordinarily self-disciplined himself. Wouldn’t you know it, he’s an entirely self-taught poet, clarinetist and painter.

You could attribute that mental fortitude to his North Korean background, appropriate given his quick temper and steadfastly idealistic spirit. According to family legend, he was imprisoned several times during the Japanese occupation for his resistance to the regime. To this day, he refuses to speak any Japanese, even though he’s completely fluent. He moved to South Korea sometime before the war, to attend and then become administrator of Seoul National University, the top college in the nation. But because of his friendship with Communist conspirators, he was forbidden by the government from leaving the country for 20 years.

And those friends? They decided to defect back to the North and asked my grandfather to leave with them. He refused. They went back and were promptly executed, every single one of them.

This is a very, very vague, general account of my grandfather’s history, but it gives you an idea of why his painting is that much more special to me, because it’s a reminder of what our family’s been through to get to this point in time.

Someday soon, I hope to take down a detailed account of his history.

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