When Dad said that we were told that we were going to have traditional Korean food, so Chris and I expected to go to a cozy little restaurant with imos running around and food all served in one batch.
What we didn’t expect was this;
WHAT?- I didn’t even know that Korean food could be that classy!- Hands down, that was the classiest meal I’ve ever had.
After the fancy lunch, we went to my dad’s friend’s house. They live in 일산 (Ilsan), where the MBC station is headquartered. Joanne, the daughter of the family, told me that every Saturday, the day of a music show, she could hear the fangirls’ screams and they would sometimes clog the streets. Huh, sometimes being a fan of celebrities makes you forget the people living near them. I mean, it’s great to show enthusiasm but still, there’s the reality of people living around the venues as well…
AND THEN WE SAW A CELEBRITY OURSELVES.
WHAAAAAT IS LIFE.
Seriously, though, okay so we were driving away from their house to visit our great grandfather’s grave and my dad’s childhood hometown, and we noticed that the street was getting backed up and then my mom was like “Look, they’re filming something over there” and I was like huh, maybe I know what drama it is? And then I looked over and
IT WAS SEO INGUK. AS IN FROM REPLY 1997.
So, in other words, this guy
was literally RIGHT IN FRONT OF US.
At this point, I kind of started to have a fangirl moment. I mean, he’s a really good actor and singer and it was the WEIRDEST thing seeing him in the flesh, right there! I am so going to watch the drama they’re filming now just to see the scene they were shooting!-
Wow, I just realized that the quality of my writing went down as I was describing seeing Seo Inguk. Sorry for that long run-on sentence aha XD.
Ahem. Back to serious stuff. After that incident we drove into the countryside, an hour away from Seoul, to Appa’s childhood home, 원덕(Wonduk). I don’t know the exact translation of the Korean phrase, but 우리 아빠 신기하다~ . (my apologies if I wrote that incorrectly). He was bubbling over with excitement and I could almost see the memories resurfacing before his eyes as he slowly walked around, savoring everything.
We also had a chance to visit our great grandfather’s grave. But let me clarify, years ago, Korean graves did not look like Western graves. Grave was a mound of earth. We had to march through weeds and tall grass to get there, and when we did, Chris and I were…disappointed. We got bitten by bugs and scratched by the foliage just to see this? Appa was solemn and asked us if we had any thoughts, but the only one we had was the thought of an air-conditioned room. In that moment, we were just frustrated and cranky.
But before we left, Appa wanted to pray. So, relunctantly, we held hands in the scruffy, overgrown area as Dad started to pray. He spoke about our heritage and how this great grandfather was where it all started. No matter where we’d go in life, or even if we were to reject our ancestry, the truth was that in 원덕 lay the person that we stemmed from.
His prayer made me finally realize what the big deal was. No matter what I do, I am Korean. Even though I live in Canada, even though I’m not fluent in Korean, even though Koreans identify me as a foreigner, I am Korean. My great grandfather lived and died in Korea. Through him came my grandfather and my dad. My goodness, I don’t know if what I’m writing is effective in communicating the sense of assurance and peace that this epiphany gave me.
I am Korean. Always, no matter what.