Tae Oak

Nome | Anchorage

Oak at Milano's Pizza in downtown Nome.

Oak at Milano's Pizza in downtown Nome.

"I had mentioned earlier about how people are pure, and what I really mean by that: people are so pure and sacred, and good hearts. I really-- I learned it from [people here in the Bering Strait region]."

moving from korea to the u.s. as a boy

That was my father’s decision, [to move to Lousiana]. He was involved in import-export business. We wanted to encourage him to live somewhere where all the Korean people are. But he wanted to have himself and an opportunity to advance in his business. He thought there would be too many competitions. So he chose a remote side of Shreveport, Louisiana. Just so he didn’t have so many competition that would interfere with his business. So: my first English was very southern Louisianan, mixed with a Korean accent. ... I finished my college there. [When we first arrived,] I was in junior high about two months, and the following August I started my freshman year. Until college, until the P.A. [Physician's Assistant] school. I went to P.A. school in LSU.

medical work in rural alaska

My first two years of my life in Alaska, I had an opportunity to travel out to remote villages. When I first came, first two years, I traveled quite a bit to the villages. You know, I was young with a lot-- back then, I was a lot more young and very active. So I always volunteered to travel. ... When I have a private moment to myself, what I like to maintain about Alaska, and Nome in general, is: how pure the young kids are. I mean, I’m sure there are-- kids are all pure. But [here] they’re just so adorable and so sacred. ...Until they turn, you know, a little older.

angels and ghosts

There was an incident [in Savoonga, on St. Lawrence Island] where a three-year-old kid was choking from cashew nuts, and one large cashew nut that wasn’t chewed got completely lodged into her throat and was blocking her airway. Anyways, she wasn’t breathing for a while, and luckily I was able to do some maneuvering and pushed the lodged cashew nut-- shoved it all the way down to her lungs. And then I put her intubation in, and I was able to revive her. She was out, not breathing, for several minutes. She was medevaced to Anchorage and came back ten days later: all healthy. She had shared to her grandmother that while she was laying in the clinic emergency room, she explained to her family that she saw several angels above her head flying, floating around, and she was able to see the specks of light. The reason that I wanted to share this story is the things that I learn from people, the Eskimo Natives, they believe in ghosts and angels. And I truly-- I’m the type of person that didn’t have any idea about such existence until instances like this. I just can’t imagine a three-year-old making up this story that wasn’t there. So my sharing of this information with you is to let you share with everybody out in the world that people do believe in the angels and ghosts existing. ... And as of today, the family, they come and see me; they come into Nome and stop by the restaurant. Because of that incident.