KOREATOWN : A Marriage That Stands the Test of Time

In preparation for their parents' recent wedding anniversary, Chan-Yong Kim and his brother and sister decided to look up the traditional anniversary names.

The list says silver for the 25th anniversary; gold for the 50th. If a couple makes it to 60 years, it's their diamond anniversary. But what about after that?

"No one knew . . . " Kim said. "I guess no one figured that any couple would be married beyond 60 years."

Well, recently, Kim's father, Jae-Ok Kim, and mother, Ok-Sun Kim, of Koreatown celebrated a union that has spanned three-quarters of a century and two continents.

"I don't remember ever having a fight," said Ok-Sun Kim, who at 87 is a year older than her husband. As was the custom at the time in their native Korea, the marriage was arranged by the couple's parents. She was 12, he was 11, although they did not live together as husband and wife until they were in their 20s, said Chan-Yong Kim, 60, the oldest of the couple's three children.

"In those days, parents made the arrangements so as not to lose the opportunity for having a good son-in-law or a good daughter-in-law," explained Chan-Yong Kim.

After the wedding, the couple lived at his parents' house near the city of Kaesong, now in North Korea. With the outbreak of the Korean War, the family fled to the port city of Inchon and then moved to Seoul in the late 1950s.

In 1973, the couple moved to Southern California, where their children were pursuing educations and careers.

They moved into an apartment building in Koreatown, where they became active in a Korean senior citizens' group and their church.

Unlike many older Korean couples, the Kims can occasionally be seen holding hands when they walk down the street, said Kyung-Yong Kim, their second son.

Chan-Yong Kim, who runs a tae kwon do school in Cerritos, sees his parents as role models for couples: "Maybe times aren't always happy, but when an unfavorable situation develops, rather than saying, 'The heck with it,' there's always a way . . . to work things out."

The Guinness Book of World Records lists two couples who were married for 86 years, so the Kims have a goal. In the meantime, Ok-Sun Kim has a simple plan: "After all these years, my responsibility is to continue to love my husband, never hurt his feelings and make sure he eats well."

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