Making Friends:
Kwang-Jin and Young-Jin Cho* of Pusan, Korea

Written by Melvin Leavitt

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“Robots are powerful and can fight with great might and do great damage,” Young-Jin, 8, explains. “But my robots will be different. My robots will help people solve their problems.”

Young-Jin is a cartoonist, and he plans to make a living creating comic strips and animated cartoons of robots. As a recently-baptized Latter-day Saint, he has decided that his mighty machines will not promote violence or hatred.

Young-Jin is the oldest son, an important responsibility and honor in the Korean culture. Whenever a younger brother or sister needs help, he willingly lends a hand. And he is obedient. When his father, Boong-Jae, asked him to be more reverent in sacrament meeting by keeping a record of each talk, he obeyed.

Kwang-Jin is Young-Jin’s twin brother, born a few minutes later. He is a happy, carefree soul, a teller and player of jokes—but never cruel jokes. He just likes to laugh. He attracts friends like flowers attract bees. Kwang-Jin hopes to be a scientist when he grows up. But he also likes to model in clay and wants his father to teach him Tae Kwon Do, a Korean martial art. He has a good singing voice and can sing out “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” with as much gusto as half the army of Helaman.

The twins have three brothers and two sisters. Kyu-Jin, a pretty seven-year-old girl, is highly intelligent and a good student. She likes to sing and to take care of her younger brothers and sister.

Jong-Jin (5) is a tenderhearted boy who often counts his brothers and sisters to make sure that no one is missing.

Wi-Jin (3) is an energetic boy who knows exactly what he wants, especially if it’s some of the delicious food his mother, Hwasoon, cooks so well. Wi-Jin likes to make little gifts to give her parents.

Du-Jin (2) is a sweet child who loves his daddy and shouts “Apa!” (Daddy) when he wants him.

Sol-Jin (7 months) likes to ride her daddy’s knee, be hugged, and give hugs back.

The twins enjoy playing baseball and soccer. Some of their friends may be better athletes, but no one has more fun. Indoors, the Cho children enjoy computer games, reading, and a little television. The family especially likes to gather on the living room floor to play a game called yut no ri. Each player in turn throws four sticks onto a mat on the floor. The way the sticks land determines how game pieces may be moved around a game board.

Like all children of school age, Young-Jin and Kwang-Jin attend school six days a week. Each day after school, they take a computer class for an hour. They also take piano lessons together.

Before entering a Korean home, everyone takes off his or her shoes and leaves them at the entrance. It is Kwang-Jin’s chore to arrange these shoes neatly. He also is responsible for organizing toys. Young-Jin cleans half the floor in the living room and organizes video tapes. Kyu-Jin cleans the other half of the living room floor. All the children who are old enough clean their own rooms.

Family prayer morning and night, morning scripture study, family home evening, and personal prayer are natural parts of life in the Cho home. In a family home evening lesson on the wise and unwise virgins, they all made oil containers to hang on their walls as a reminder.

Brother and Sister Cho both served missions, and their children are eager to follow in their footsteps. They are already practicing. Both Young-Jin and Kwang-Jin have invited a friend to a church meeting.

The children all believe in prayer. They have seen it work. Once, before going on an outing to Kung Ju, a nearby historical area, they prayed for protection. That day they were involved in a small accident, but no one was hurt. Everyone felt that Heavenly Father had protected them.

Korean families are close-knit and celebrate many holidays together, including a special Children’s Day. One of the Chos’ favorite holidays is the lunar New Year. It is a time to wear traditional costumes and bow low to one’s ancestors and elders, living and dead. Another popular celebration is Chusok, a thanksgiving festival to mark the beginning of the harvest. It is celebrated with delicious traditional foods such as song pyong (moon-shaped rice cakes) and toran (a soup with meatballs). In fact, all Korean celebrations include plenty of yummy food.

Pusan lies on the southeast coast of the Korean Peninsula and is Korea’s second largest city. Huge ships load and unload cargo in its harbor. A visit to Pusan suggests a fairy tale. Once upon a time, tall green hills and a big city both wanted to live in the same beautiful place by the sea. They ended up sharing! The city plays hide-and-seek with itself behind these hills.

Sometimes the Chos follow the hills to one of Pusan’s beaches to play baseball, explore tidal pools, and build sand castles. Afterward, they may visit a fast-food restaurant for something a little untraditional, like pizza, fried chicken, or hamburgers and french fries.

The Cho family is one in which children can have fun and be themselves while growing into the men and women they dream of becoming. They are guided with genuine love and the gentle teachings of the Savior. It is a family that would inspire only the very nicest sort of robot.

Photographed by Melvin Leavitt

1. Young-Jin and Kwang-Jin belong to a close and loving family

2. Young-Jin drawing robots

3. Wi-Jin

4. Jong-Jin, Kwang-Jin, and Young-Jin at the beach

5. Sol-Jin with Sister Cho

6. Brother Cho teaching Tae Kwon Do to Young-Jin and Kwang-Jin

7. Family scripture study

8. Kyu-Jin

9. Du-Jin

10. Yut no ri is a favorite family game

Photos at left by Lana Leishman

Show References

  • In Korea, the boys’ family name, Cho, would come before their first, or given, names.