My maternal grandparents

In 1904, my maternal grandfather, Keum Whan Chang, immigrated to Hawaii from Pyongyang, Korea. He worked as a laborer on a sugar cane plantation for 10 years, after which he opened a country store. Since he was quite wealthy by that time, he sent for a picture bride from Korea. My grandmother, Do Yun Hong, arrived from Masan, Korea in 1915 and married my grandfather. She gave birth to my mother in 1916. In total, she had 10 children.

Later, my grandparents bought real estate on Oahu and rented it out. When they died at age 79, they were millionaires. In 2002, their bodies were exhumed from Nuuanu Cemetery, cremated, and transported to Seoul. There, they were honored in a special ceremony as “Patriots of Korea” and buried with full military honors at Daejeon National Cemetery.

I might add that my grandmother took the U.S. citizenship test and passed it on her first attempt. She became an American citizen in 1961 at age 65. It’s ironic that an American is buried in Daejeon National Cemetery. My grandfather never took the test, so he never became an American.

My maternal grandparents, Do Yun Hong and Keum Whan Chang:

My grandparents, Do Yun Hong and Keum Whan Chang, with Julia, my mother, their first child (1916):

This is my 72 year old grandmother with some of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. This photo was taken in May 1968. That’s me on the bottom right, wearing a dark blue dress with green trim. I was 22 at the time:

This is the apartment building (King Apts), which my grandparents owned on S. King Street in Honolulu. The duplex next to it was where they lived. These structures still exist today, owned by other entities unrelated to my grandparents. I lived in the duplex with my widowed grandmother 1965-1968 until I graduated from the University and left Hawaii to travel the world:

I just love to look at these photos and recall happy moments spent with my grandparents.

16 Responses to “My maternal grandparents”

  1. DavidH Says:

    Your grandparents certainly lived the American dream. They came here with nothing and through hard work and sacrifice became very successful. I am sure that their traits passed on to you today and that is why you have achieved so much with your life.

  2. AC Says:

    That’s quite a history and you know it well.

  3. Fools Rush In Says:

    I love this post! My memories of my own grandparents are treasures.

  4. Doug M Says:

    Wonderful post Gigi! Loved reading about your grandparents, they have an impressive story. Loved the photos too. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  5. tomthebackroadstraveller Says:

    …this sure is an interesting story!

  6. marmeladegypsy Says:

    What a fascinating family history, Gigi. I’m glad you know the stories and appreciate all they did. It takes courage to emigrate and then to prosper so magnificently. All that, plus the wonderful memories of dear family. I love this.

  7. Christine Says:

    I enjoyed this history.

  8. Lois Evensen Says:

    What a lovely family! Thank you for sharing the glowing history of your family.

  9. Elephant's Child Says:

    You are very lucky to have known about your grandparents (and even luckier to have known them). My family history on both sides is shrouded in mystery.

  10. Linda Reeder Says:

    Theirs is a remarkable history! Thank you for sharing their story.

  11. Valerie-Jael Says:

    Thanks for sharing, how lovely to know so much about your family. Hugs, Valerie

  12. Tom from Sightings Says:

    What an interesting background! My maternal grandfather — son of Irish immigrants — did pretty well for himself. He was a dentist. But he sure wasn’t a millionaire.

  13. Iris Flavia Says:

    An impressive story. And wonderful photos.
    All we have is one little picture of my Dadยดs Father, ice skating and some when my Dad and his Sister were children. We also know nothing further down the lane.
    Thank you for sharing.

  14. Nancy Chan Says:

    I don’t have any photos of my maternal and paternal grandparents. I don’t even have any photos of my own parents. I am not sure whether the photos are with my elder sister.

  15. David Gascoigne Says:

    It’s great to have these fond memories. Cherish them always.

  16. Janette Says:

    Lovely. Your grandparents were amazing, forward thinking people. I know the King apartments. I always wondered why there was a house there.

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