The wounds of poverty : My mother’s Trembling Shoulders.

The wounds of poverty : My mother’s Trembling Shoulders.
If one never experienced poverty, it is difficult to understand. Overcoming poverty is not as simple as zipping up a coat when a cold blazing wind strikes. It is like dealing with the effects of a drought. The land yields little to no harvest and in the winter, food is scarce. The cold weather then becomes unbearable especially when there isn’t enough food. I know this because as a boy, this was my reality.

In December 1962, Korea underwent one of the harshest winters and worst harvests. People struggled to feed their families and find work. My family was one of the victims of this tragic period. I distinctly remember, eating the same grain day after day – millet. At the time, I only saw it as a way to fill my stomach. But years later, I now realize that we were blessed to eating one of the healthiest and highly valued grains in the world.

A vivid memory I have of poverty as a boy is when I went to Seoul for the first time. I was with my mother and older brother who was a proud student of Seoul University. At the time, he rented a small room by his university. My mother wanted to help organize his room. So at the break of dawn, my mother, brother, and I headed to Ui-Sung train station in the midst of a blizzard.

When the three of us arrived, my mother only purchased two tickets to Seoul, one for my brother and one for herself, none for me. Rides were free for children who were 6 years old and younger. Let me take this moment to say that despite being 11 years old, I looked like I was 6 – I was a late bloomer. So my mother used my youthful appearance to save money on one ticket. While one ticket may not seem costly to most, it was enough to help our family find our next meal. But my memory of poverty does not stop here. In fact, it began at 10:30AM – the time our train arrived.

Hundreds of people scurried through the narrow doors and within seconds the limited seats were taken. My brother, mother and I opted to stand as the train took off. Hours later, at 8PM the train finally arrived at Chung-rang-lee Station in Seoul. With weary eyes, I looked around and noticed the conductor punching the tickets. One by one, he checked all the passengers and made clicking sounds as he punched their tickets. Eventually, he asked my brother for our tickets. Since I was still young, I did not quite understand what was going on. But I noticed their expressions. My mother and brother seemed uneasy and were trying to explain why I didn’t have a ticket. They lied that I was 6, but the conductor was not convinced.

As I mentioned before, I was small for my age and was able to pass for as 6 to get a free ticket. But the conductor saw through my disguise and dragged my brother to the head director. My mother was devastated, but my brother reassured her that he will be fine.

As we squeezed through the crowded halls, I tightly held onto my brother’s hand. I was confused and worried. Finally, we met the director. Within seconds, the director looked at my brother and I with piercing eyes, and slapped my brother’s face. I was shocked. The conductor insulted my brother, calling him a fraud. He scolded him for attending and wearing a badge from a prestigious school, yet committing dishonesty. My brother only replied with, “I’m sorry, Sir”. My heart was broken as I saw my brother being torn down. I looked back and saw my mother witnessing everything with horror. After 52 years, I still have feelings of agony and guilt for my mother and brother. At the time, I didn’t know what to do. And quite frankly, as a kid, there was nothing I could do. When I saw my mother, even from a distance, I could see tears streaming down her face. She rushed over to us and knelt down in front of the director and begged for forgiveness.

She apologized, saying “I’m sorry, Sir. I’m the one who told my son to lie. He’s not guilty. I am. So please punish me instead.” She trembled as she sobbed with fear.

The memory I have watching her fragile shoulders, shaking with so much pain, still breaks my heart to this day as a 63 year old man. And even now, I can still see my mother’s trembling shoulders.

Written by Chris MoonKey Nam /  New Star Realty & Inv.


Translated by Carole Lee, NewStar Realty at Fullerton Office
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What Investors Should Know BEFORE Selecting Condo Insurance

If you’re a buy and hold rental property investor and you own a condominium, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right coverage since buying condo insurance is different than buying single family home insurance.

In order to mitigate the risk of damage or loss to your rental property, here are some important things to consider when selecting your condo insurance policy.

Understand the Terms

Insurance companies offer different coverage for different properties based on the terms defined in your insurance policy. For example, coverage differs greatly between a condominium and a single family home. The coverage also differs on whether or not the property is defined in the policy as your primary dwelling or rental property.


Read and reread the terms and conditions for any condo insurance policy before agreeing to their terms. You want to ensure that you are selecting the policy that best covers your investment from loss or damage.

HOA Coverage vs. Personal Property Coverage

Condominium insurance differs from single family home insurance in that condo owners share insurance liabilities with the condo’s homeowner’s association (HOA). Because of this, it can be difficult to understand which policy covers what events and damage.

Personal property condo coverage generally includes:

Interior structure

A condo owner’s personal property insurance is responsible for everything within the interior structure, starting at the studs and working your way in. Any damage that occurs to the electrical, plumbing, floors, drywall, fixtures, and appliances, for example, falls to the property owner and needs to be covered under their personal property insurance.

If the condominium is a rental property, however, you will not need to have as much coverage for personal belongings since that liability will fall to the tenant under their rental insurance.

Loss assessment

Loss assessment is a type of coverage that offers protection against damage caused to common areas owned by the condo’s homeowner’s association. If severe damage to HOA property exceeds the covered losses to the buildings or common areas, you and all other members of the HOA may need to supplement the difference to pay for repairs. If you have loss assessment coverage, you won’t have to pay for your portion of the repairs out of pocket. Pools, elevators, common areas, and recreation areas, for example, would fall under this coverage.

Liability coverage

Your personal property insurance coverage should also cover liability in the event that a person gets injured or their belongings become damaged while within your condo. This liability coverage helps cover the bills in case you’re held responsible for their injuries.

Loss of use

If your condo becomes uninhabitable due to a loss covered by your overall policy, this coverage can provide you with the fair rental value of the property.

HOA insurance master policies generally cover:

Exterior structures, common areas, and grounds

While your personal property coverage is responsible for everything within the interior structure, your HOA’s insurance is responsible for every exterior structure, including the roof, exterior walls, grounds, community buildings, and shared amenities.

The specifics of what an HOA’s master policy will cover varies by association, so it’s important to review the master policy thoroughly. Make sure that you understand the bylaws of your HOA as well as the details of their insurance coverage.

Ask about flood, water, and natural disaster coverage, so that you understand what you will be responsible for as a condominium owner. Research whether you need flood insurance for your condo and if your community abides by FEMA’s recommendations under the new Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. If the master policy doesn’t include flood insurance, you may need to ensure that you’re covered under your individual insurance policy or a supplemental food insurance coverage policy.

Understand the Best Coverage by Region

Many different factors affect how much your condo insurance premiums will be. Your location, the age of the structure, and its vulnerability to natural disasters, for example, all play into how high (or low) of a premium your insurance company will offer.

If your condominium is located in an area frequently affected by natural disasters, you can expect your insurance premiums to be higher. In fact, if you live in Florida, Texas, or Louisiana, you can expect to pay some of the highest premiums in the country.

If you would like to do more research how your region will affect your coverage, the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s (NAIC) latest homeowners insurance report provides the most recently validated data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance.

Compare Quotes

When looking for condo insurance, it will be in your best interest to receive quotes from several different insurance companies. State Farm, Travelers, Liberty Mutual, Geico, and Progressive are of course some of the bigger and more well-known insurance companies that offer condo coverage. However, it might serve your interests to conduct a quick search of the Better Business Bureau to find a highly rated insurance company local to your area.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also recently published a comprehensive list of the “Property and Casualty Insurance Industry 2015 Top 25 Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium.” This study can be helpful in guiding your decision on which company to trust with your insurance coverage.

Once you have quotes from several different companies, assess the coverage offered by the policy compared to price and the deductible. When you’re armed with quotes and policy coverage plans from other companies, you can use those policies as a tool to perhaps receive more coverage for a lower cost from a company’s competitor, saving you money on insurance in the long run.

Do Your Homework

Finding the right policy for your condo can be a time-consuming and frustrating task, but doing the research and making sure you have enough (but not too much) coverage will save you a lot of money down the line.

Remember always to request a copy of the master policy so you can see what is and is not covered by your HOA. Research whether or not you need flood insurance, and always compare quotes from multiple companies before settling on a policy.


Credit to Louis Conrad

Louis Conrad is currently the Co-Owner of Surge Homes, a company that develops land, builds houses and condominiums, and offers real estate sales and marketing services for all of its communities in and around Houston, TX.

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