Ho Song Guk, living in Neighbourhood Unit 48 of Kyogu-dong, Central District, has an unusual daily routine.
Every morning, the 79-year-old man goes to the park with wheelchair-bound Kim Jong Thaek, a disabled ex-soldier, to let him do some exercises, and in the evening he teaches him subjects of different fields such as foreign language and electronics.
Seeing him, the other elderly and his neighbours said that he was so sincere in taking care of his son. But, when they learned that the old man and the disabled ex-soldier are not father and son, they were surprised and, at the same, deeply moved.
“The deed of the old man had a great impact on the inhabitants in my neighbourhood unit. It is natural when people get older, they find it difficult to keep themselves properly. But in the twilight years of his life, Ho adopted Kim as his son,” said the head of Ho’s neighbourhood unit.
Kim Kyong Hui, a woman living next to his house, said, “The old man who has to be under the care of his children takes the trouble to have Kim do exercises for recuperation and guide him in his studies. Indeed, I am impressed by him.”
The relationship between them was not forged in a day or two.
The old man and his wife were living in Sangsin-dong, Sosong District. And the young man was living next to their house with his mother who has lumbar pain.
Many people came to the young man’s house on holidays and days-off to have a happy time with his family as helping disabled ex-soldiers has become a social climate, but his appearance of feeling inconvenience in daily life hurt the mind of the elderly couple.
The couple paid close attention to the life of Kim’s family for years, devoting everything for them. Ho had a discussion with the doctor in charge of Kim and made a daily schedule for him to recover his health.
In the evenings, Ho became the young man’s teacher, teaching him history, literature and foreign language as much as he knew, and brought many books on electronics to Kim who was interested in electronic appliances.
With the passage of time, the relationship between members of both families was naturally sealed into that of one family.
When his wife died, Ho moved to the house of his daughter, Ho Kyong Ae, to live with her family together.
Whenever he had special dishes prepared by his daughter and played with his grandchildren, he was reminded of Kim. Though he thought that other people would take care of Kim after he had left, he felt as if he had parted from his own son.
Furthermore, he was worried that Kim would be alone at home, thinking of his mother who was in hospital.
One day, the daughter asked her father seeing his clouded face, “Dad, you looked after Kim for two decades. Don’t you think that’s enough?”
“No. I have a pang of conscience. Of course, the doctor, the head of his neighbourhood unit and other people there must be taking care of Kim. But just think it over. I had been a teacher for over 30 years. Students see the motherland in the appearance of their teachers; their retirement does not mean the disappearance of the conscience of an educator. I’d like to imprint on Kim’s mind the appearance of the country where all of us live happily together.”
The daughter arranged in a cozy room of her house different sporting apparatuses and relevant books and recordings needed for Kim’s studying. She went to his house the following day.
“Let’s go to my house. Sorry to be late. You may live in my house and get medical treatment and study. Then, your mother will recover her health quickly,” said the daughter.
In this way, Kim became the son of Ho Song Guk and a member of his family.
On learning this, officials in the sector of commerce, college students and residents in Kyogu-dong volunteered to help his medical treatment and studies.
Thanks to the concern of these people, Kim recovered his health; at the time of being discharged from military service, he could not stand up or sit down, but now he can walk with the aid of crutches.
With his painstaking efforts, he learned two foreign languages and can repair electronic appliances by himself.
“The appearances of Ho Song Guk and his daughter Ho Kyong Ae are just those of my father and my eldest sister. They take warm care of me more than their kith and kin,” said the disabled ex-soldier Kim Jong Thaek.