Back in January, Tocha and I made the pilgrimage to Korea for my maternal grandmother's 80th birthday. We had an amazing trip. Below is T's "amazed" face. He's standing on a mountaintop in Seoraksan National Park.
For a brief moment, my mom, my grandma, and me were together in one place.
What you see here is one of the best meals of my life. Everything on the table was prepared by my grandmother. It was breakfast. It was beautiful! You simply can't beat this.
We stayed with my 고모 (aunt on my father's side) and her husband, my 고무부, who are special to me. They loved me when I was a baby, kept in touch throughout the years, and were the only ones from Korea to make it to our wedding in New York. Here they are, graciously standing just so in the beautiful light for me.
And here they were as newlyweds in the early 80's (photo by my uncle, I think).
Aside from my parents and my sister, my entire family lives in Korea. We grew up in the States pretty much isolated from extended family, so it was quite the experience to meet them again in adulthood. Seeing yourself in your aunts and uncles is striking--little pieces of them that somehow are in you even though you grew up without knowing them. Genes and family ties are miraculously strong! For better or for worse...
Here's my grandmother surrounded by her daughters.
As overwhelming as it can be to meet the entire clan of in-laws, Tocha did well. They were amazed that he happily ate everything that was put in front of him. Guys, if you're meeting Koreans for the first time, they will adore you if you love their food. Also, they will try to stuff you silly so watch out. Here is T with grandma.
It was a relatively short trip in the middle of a very cold winter, but we were able to get around a bit. These are iPhone snaps (no filter on the first two!) of an excursion to Seoraksan National Park in Gangwon-do, northeast of Seoul.
All images © Christine Han Photography
So...I had no idea Korea was this beautiful. Did you? Should I be ashamed? I am a little bit, but my memories of the place were from childhood, when I was too immature to appreciate any of it and the kids made fun of me because I was American.
I did, however, suspect that the food would be amazing and interesting. For sure, it was. The anthropologist/food-nerd in me was totally inspired! Stay tuned...and thanks for reading!