Oldest known Korean American in NY dies at 106

July 13, 2015
Song Choon-hwa, 106, celebrated her birthday in February 2015.

Song Choon-hwa celebrated her 106th birthday in February 2015.

By The Korea Times New York staff

New York’s oldest living Korean American, Song Choon-hwa, 106, died Friday inside a senior’s home she shared with her daughter in Queens, according to the Korean Evangelical Church of New York.

A deacon of the church, Song immigrated to the U.S. at the invitation of her eldest son in 1978.

She was born Feb. 11, 1909 in a village near Gangwon Province in South Korea. Song had four sons and three daughters.

Her late husband Ko Byung-yeol, a former executive at a Korean financial institution, passed in 2009 at age 103. Song and Ko met in 1927, when she was 19.

She and her husband were well-known figures in the area’s Korean American community.

In February this year, Song celebrated her 106th birthday surrounded by about 200 fellow churchgoers and her daughter, Ko Jung-sook.

She said then that she and her husband, in their 80-year marriage, had lived through both Korean independence and the Korean War.

Song is survived by more than 60 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I was so worried when my oldest and second-oldest sons were drafted into the military during the Korean War, but now that my seven children and their own children are living well, I have no regrets,” Song said during the celebration. “Happiness is not far away. You can find it within your family.”