I received the following in my email inbox today from Ben Chin’s brother:
Dear Mr. Taylor,
I read your article on my brother Ben Chin and was surprised with all the attention. Perhaps I can clear up some of the concerns. There are couple of excellent articles in the internet on Korea’s political situation in the 70s.
These were turbulent times as indicated in the articles. President Park did wonders for the Korean economy but became more oppressive especially after his wife was killed. Assassination attempt on him by a North Korean agent killed the much loved and respected first lady in 1974. It is generally thought that the first lady brought considerable balance and wisdom to the president’s life. Her death must have been devastating for the president not to mention the enormous guilt that he must have felt that she took his position. President Park became less open, less trusting and more hard line around this time… “many political leaders were arbitrarily arrested, and the security apparatus entered its most draconian period, putting down dissent and becoming infamous for its use of torture” …according to the above article. President Park himself was assassinated in 1979. My father lost or resigned his position around 1974.
Pro-democracy movement in 1980 resulted in hundreds (if not over a thousand) being killed by paratroops under President Chun. If Korea was officially a democracy, it was a fledgling one in the 70s.
My parents and Ben were living in Korea in the mid-70s. When Ben was 13, he left Korea and joined me in Toronto. You could say that my younger sister and I “raised” Ben during his early teens (13 to 16). My sister and I were busy university students and not prepared to raise any teenagers…so I give full credit to Ben for turning out ok.
I suppose that you’re privileged if your dad has a chauffeur driven Mercedes or Cadillac. But my dad struggled all his life getting there and he let us know it. He survived Japanese occupation and the Korean war and slowly worked his way up as a carrier diplomat from the bottom.
Ben doesn’t always talk about his early teens. If the main question is about his car, he is not going to bring up political persecutions of his dad. This is not about deception, lie or double life. He is just being practical and sensible like anyone would.
Thank you, Jik Chin
I have the feeling that that’s all the clarification that one needs to sort out this story which originated over the confusion between the quotation in Ben Chin’s literature and an obscure puff piece on a car website. I have no reason not to take Ben’s brother (and thus Ben) at his word.
While this isn’t a retraction of my original post as that post merely quoted a few sources which were inconsistent with each other, I do regret my tone (“from humble beginnings” and “jet-set”) as we now have a corroborating piece of the puzzle that indicates that things weren’t as easy as assumed for the Chins. As this story developed, my goal had always been a full and fair presentation of the facts.
Now, I hope that the NDP and the Liberals can play nice in Toronto-Danforth because this issue seems insignificant at best.