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Baltimore seniors recount immigration stories in pottery exhibit

April 13, 2015
The Onngi exhibition by first-generation Korean immigrants of the Greenmount Senior Center

The Onngi exhibition by first-generation Korean immigrants of the Greenmount Senior Center

By The Korea Times Washington D.C. staff

A collection of stories from first-generation Korean immigrants, now seniors, were told in a showcase featuring Onngi pottery vessels during Baltimore’s three-day Pop-Up Koreatown event last weekend.

The traditional Korean pots were made by local seniors of the Greenmount Senior Center during an eight-week pottery program taught by Aletheia Shin. The display was set up inside Seoul Rice Cake Store.

“We suffered a lot when we first came here,” wrote one immigrant, Choi Eun-soon. “It was unspeakable. We adjusted through tears. We cried so much.”

Choi, who eventually opened a store, said she remembers in particular a black man who would come by every day, shaking her hand, hanging around.

“When kids would come to steal things, he would come inside and tell them, ‘Don’t come here if you’re going to act this way. This here is my Mama,’” she wrote.

Another, Jung Wi-gyun, said he came to America seeking better education for his children from a country far from the modern hub it is today.

“Anything you do, if you do it with sincerity, at the end people will recognize it,” Jung said.

The exhibit, planned by Shin, will be moved and opened inside Maryland Institute College of Art’s Decker Gallery from April 17 to May 3.

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