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Sun "Sunja" Tok Bishop
August 20, 1950 ~ January 21, 2024 (age 73) 73 Years Old
4 Trees, Flowers, or Condolences have been shared with support of Sun "Sunja"'s family - View on Tribute Wall
Sun Tok “Sunja” Bishop was born in South Korea to parents with roots in far Northern Mongolia and Jeju Island. She didn’t really know her birthdate and had no documentation of it, but her beloved father told her she was born on August 20, 1950. She was told that she had older siblings who died in childbirth, but later found out that many had been victims of war and genocide, which rocked Jeju and the Korean Peninsula at the time of her birth. In fact, Sun’s early life was marked by tragedy, with the death of her mother at age 4, and her own indentured servitude to a family far from home at the age of about 11. Sun already knew how to forage for food and medicine, and she could cook, preserve meat and vegetables, and take care of farm animals. She carried this knowledge with her to a small village outside of Seoul, where she stayed until the age of about 17. One day, as she was hanging laundry, she saw the spirit of her mother, and she knew it was time to move on. She moved to Seoul, where she met an injured young Army GI named Ronald Bishop. In Seoul, she gave birth to her eldest son, Ronald Jr., and then moved to the US, and gave birth to another son, James, and a daughter, Linda.
Sun loved cooking, and spent the early years of her children’s lives feeding them amazing home-cooked meals and taking elaborate lunches to her husband’s work every single day.
Sun and Ron were adventurers, and they saved all year so that the entire family could take beautiful trips all over the US. Ronnie, James, and Linda would sit in the back seat of an old car, station wagon, or van with NO AIR CONDITIONING in 105F heat, sticking to themselves and each other, while Ron drove and Sun, sitting on three phone books and a pillow, would make snacks in the front seat. Sometimes there were holes in the floor of the car and the kids could see the road go by at their feet. Sometimes they’d sleep in a station wagon at a beachfront parking lot, and sometimes they slept on a Tennessee mountainside in an old cargo van that had a bed and couch. That can eventually went everywhere: South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, and more. Sun’s kids grew up visiting all kinds of beautiful beaches, mountains, prairies, and amusement parks. They camped while Sun cooked delicious breakfasts on an old, green Coleman stove and hiked through mountains and valleys throughout the Smokies. Sun would harvest wild greens from each stop, supplementing her family’s meals with free food. She made sure that they had everything a happy child could ever need … including the immense, incomparable love of a really good mom.
As her kids got older, Sun went to work in a local Korean restaurant, and eventually worked packing vegetables at a local factory. She was always the hardest worker, even if she was a little mean and strict. She was a prized employee until she retired years later. Sun loved spending time with her girlfriends, cooking and eating together and playing Hwatu until the wee hours of the morning. Ronnie, James and Linda remember well the slapping of the cards and jingling of coins along with their mom’s laughter.
Sun enjoyed going to the casino … maybe a little too much … but her and her husband would travel all the way to Atlantic City before the casinos opened up in Indiana, and then they became frequent patrons of all the casinos there. She absolutely loved staying over there and eating all-you-can-eat crab legs, which was one of her favorite foods throughout her life.
In 2015, Sun became the primary caregiver to her husband Ron, who never completely recovered from his injuries in Vietnam and exposure to Agent Orange. She was an amazing wife and partner, and never let anyone else care for her soulmate. In the end, she put her whole heart, soul, and body in to taking care of the man who had won her heart so long ago.
In her final months, Sun knew she would not be around much longer, and she explained all of her arrangements to her children. She made sure they knew how to make all of their favorite foods and she made amends with people she had conflicts with. She spoke longingly of foods she hadn’t tasted since childhood, like persimmons ripe off the tree, meongge, galchi, and fresh oysters cooked over a fire. We are so grateful that we traveled all over to find her these delicacies, but we also believe she is now roaming the prairies and seashores that she loved so much, eating all the crab, fish, lions mane mushroom, kimchi, and fresh vegetables she could ever want.
Sun is survived by her husband of over half a century, Ronald Bishop, her three children, Ronnie (Patricia), James (Sara), and Linda (Luke), her grandchildren Chellse’e (James), Austin (Constance), Andrew, James, Pizi, and Wawikiya, and four great-grandchildren Korha, Adha, Eskha, and Karma. She is preceded in death by her parents and grandparents, and numerous friends and in-laws. She is grateful for the friendship of her lifelong friends Young Hui and Penny.