By Crystal Hana Kim in the Paris Review
“What did you do when the food ran out?” I ask.
“We’d eat anything we could find,” she says. “We peeled the bark from trees, collected the sap, and cooked that. We picked potato vines, roots.”
“How did you know what was safe to eat?”
“I grew up watching birds, seeing what they ate, what made them die and what let them live.” She clucks. “When you grow up in the country, you know what’s edible like you know your own bones.”
My grandmother was fourteen when the Korean War began. She and her mother, like millions of others living in both halves of Korea, fled to Busan. Bewildered at the sudden onset of war, civilians streamed south.