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Malay Women In Korea

clock03-10-2010, 08:25 PM
Yorum: #1
Kids, family and durian on her mind

By : Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi

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Mariam Sahari with her second Korean husband in Seoul. A Korean TV crew is here to look for her family in Plentong, Johor, and obtain proof of her nationality.

JOHOR BARU: Mariam Sahari, who left on a one-way ticket to Korea 61 years ago, may be back in Malaysia soon.

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Mariam worked as a maid in Seoul in 1956.

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A 1943 picture of Mariam’s first Korean husband, Cho Se Won, whom she met in Malaya.

The Korean Broadcasting System, which has taken a keen interest in her, is arranging the 86-year-old’s return to her place of birth.

KBS television producer Park Keon Young Park is here to finalise her travel documents over the next two months for her flight to Kuala Lumpur.

But Mariam, who has forgotten most of her Malay and has only faded memories of her younger days, may return as a South Korean citizen.

Park said the South Korean government was willing to offer her citizenship as she had been a resident there for six decades.

"They want to establish that she was born in Malaysia. Once we determine that through records and documents here, they can give her citizenship which would allow her to visit Malaysia."

He said KBS would air a television documentary on Mariam next month.

"She sacrificed so much, leaving her children, her home, culture and coming to Korea. She has been bearing the guilt of leaving her children for a Korean. The least we can do is look for her family and obtain proof of her nationality."

The New Sunday Times yesterday spoke to Mariam, who has been admitted to a health centre for the elderly in Seoul, where she is being prepared for the trip back.

KBS has arranged, among others, for Bahasa Malaysia lessons, a special "Malaysian" diet and physiotherapy.

She offered a frail "waalaikum salam" to this reporter after being greeted with "assalamualaikum".

The 10-minute phone interview saw Mariam speaking a few words in 1950s Malay with most of her sentiments spoken in Korean.

Park and KBS researcher Seo Kyo Won translated questions in English into Korean.

Asked what she would do the moment she returned to Malaysia, Mariam said she would love to see her three children.

"I still have not forgotten what I promised them. I told my youngest daughter Jamnah (who was 5 in 1946) that I would bring home cookies for her," said Mariam, who then cried softly.

"I will bring a lot of cookies home. I promise."

Throughout the interview, Mariam was excited and emotional.

"I am very happy to speak to you (a Malaysian)," she said, repeatedly referring to Malay-sia as home.

"I really miss home. I want to come back," she said.

She wants to see her hometown of Plentong, her family members and eat mangoes and durian.

"I will eat rice and home-cooked food to my heart’s content," she said.

Mariam, who has never flown before, felt that she could brave the trip back to Malaysia.

"I will do anything to come home and that includes brushing up on my Malay and attending physiotherapy sessions."

She said the Malay lessons she was undergoing were difficult but she was "trying my best".

Meanwhile, the search for her family members by the KBS crew continues.

The NST yesterday highlighted Mariam’s plight of being stranded in Korea without travel documents.

Her problem lies in the fact that she is stateless, as she cannot prove her Malaysian nationality.

She left the country in 1946 just after World War Two, taken to Korea by the man who she was in love with to seek marriage blessings from his parents.

She initially thought that the journey was short and she would be home soon.

Hampered by more unfortunate events, including the Korean War in 1950, she was stranded in Hampyong.

After the war, her husband, Cho Se Won, took another wife, which forced her to leave for Seoul to work as a maid.

In 1960, she worked for a family where the employer’s wife, a mother of three, had cancer.

After the woman died, she married her employer, who died in 1992.

She believes her children — Ramlah, Jailani and Jamnah — are still alive.

Those with information on Mariam or her children can contact Seo at 012-3206527, or the New Straits Times Johor Baru office at 07-2383333. Park leaves for home on Wednesday.
clock07-07-2012, 06:18 PM
Yorum: #2
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