Cousin Seock-Ah’s Family Visit

My cousin, Seock-Ah, came to the US for a visit. Her oldest daughter, Debora, spent a couple weeks this summer at Berkeley. They picked her up and toured the campus. I met them at Stanford where they also toured and we all had dinner together. We were only able to spend one night together because we were leaving the next morning for Michigan, but it was nice to see them all again.

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Korea Trip – Part 12: Uncle’s 80th Birthday Party

I mentioned that one of the reasons for our trip to Korea was to celebrate my mom’s oldest brother’s 80th birthday (all related through my aunt). On Saturday, April 13th (day 14), we all met at the Imperial Palace Hotel for pictures with the family. The party was actually 3 celebrations: two 70th birthdays and my uncle’s 80th.

Dinner was excellent, and was followed by speeches from each honoree and video tributes produced by the family. One of the persons being celebrated was a well known MBC news anchor, so it appeared his video received some professional assistance (wow). My cousin’s daughter did an amazing job on our family’s video.

It was unclear for what, but at some point Jen won a prize, and all she had to do to receive it was to give a speech. No pressure. Sandor got up voluntarily and gave a typically hilarious speech in perfect Korean, which he learned growing up among the Amish in Lancaster. The audience was befuddled.

This was an amazing gathering for my mom and her family. Looking forward to my uncle’s 90th birthday party.

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Korea Trip – Part 9: Paying Respects to Im Grandparents

Almost exactly 10 years ago, my maternal grandfather passed away in Korea. My parents came to San Francisco and we flew together to Seoul from here. I don’t recall exactly why, but Jen was not able to coordinate with us and the timing didn’t allow for her to make the trip. When we arrived at the airport, my mother’s best friend came to meet us. She also came bearing the news that my mom’s mother had also passed away while we were en route. This was unexpected, and my mother was expecting to see her mother.

All of the siblings and the next generation spent the next couple days receiving many people who came to pay their respects. Most had only heard my grandfather had passed away, and were surprised to see both my grandparents’ pictures at the funeral home.

Though sad, there was something romantic about them dying only a day apart after 70-some years together. They lived a long, adventurous life. My grandmother was funny and sweet. My grandfather was more stoic, but knew how to enjoy himself. They lived in Japan for decades before moving back to Kwangju and then Seoul. They traveled a lot with my parents, once going on a trip around the world (leaving my sister and I at Clarence’s house for a summer). Later, they traveled across the US with my parents, aunt and cousin. My grandfather enjoyed taking photographs and many of his photos were hung in our house growing up.

It was a sad occasion, but a great opportunity to be with a side of my family that I had seldom seen growing up. On April 11th (day 12), we took the hour and a half journey to visit their resting place.

On the way home, we asked to be dropped off at a Bukchon Kalguksu for lunch, which was on Grace’s Kimchi Chronicles itinerary. We walked towards Insadong and it looked like rain. Lucas, my dad, and I decided to take the subway back to the hotel while the ladies and Olivia went to shop a bit.

Back at the hotel, we did our afternoon happy hour thing with the kids before all heading out to dinner with the Hau family. We went to PoCha, which wasn’t a real pojangmacha, but adequately provided the experience. The kids were tired, so I took them back to the hotel while the rest of the family stayed to eat and drink.

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Korea Trip – Part 8: Lotteworld with Haus and Dinner with Ims

On Wednesday, April 10th (day 11), we went out with Liz and Clarence’s family. We tried to go to the Children’s Park, but it was mostly closed for renovations. We changed plans and went to Lotte World. We were advised not to go there on a weekend, but Wednesday was very managable. The longest line we waited in was about an hour. We didn’t stay long as we had to get back to the hotel.

That evening, we went to my mom’s oldest brother’s home in Ilsan. There, we saw his three daughters and their families. The oldest, Seock-Ah, had visited us in SF some years ago, but I hadn’t seen Gina or Kyung-ah in ten years, nor had we met all the kids. It was great to see all the cousins and second cousins together.

My aunt is an amazing cook and prepared a huge feast in honor of my uncle’s 80th birthday, which was a big reason for our family reunion. My uncle lived with us for some time during the 70s, which made for some hilarious and memorable times together. I was so happy to see everyone doing so well.

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