Archive for the ‘Korea ’04’ Category

My Korea – Halmonee

November 4, 2009 - 4:04 pm Comments Off on My Korea – Halmonee

Halmonee’s face was pale but full. Her lips reminded me of Dad.
Black eyes rimmed with watery blue sparkled behind her glassy wire-frames.
Harabuhjee had blue eyes the last time I saw him before he died.
The black runs out of our eyes like dye after so many years.

After my belly was full and warmed with her special daenjang – a rich broth bursting with savory fermented juiciness, slices of Korean chilis floating to the top – we walked outside her apartment building for pat-bing-su.

She wore a sakura patterned cotton hat only to walk a few feet from her doorway – always cognizant of that stubborn July sun trying to tan her delicate skin.

In the small neighborhood bakery always painted in that inviting yellow, Halmonee ordered two bowls of pat-bing-su. To go!

Back home we patted, scooped, and scraped the shave ice topped with red bean with our white plastic spoons.
We were two little girls in that moment instead of generations apart, as we giggled and slurped and giggled again.
Sometimes she’d let one fly and I’d get a head freeze from laughing so hard.

I remember how quietly I lay next to Halmonee on the floor as we watched her Korean variety show that evening. And in between her drowsy naps, she would suddenly awake and sing on cue to the old folk song playing – off and on, awake, asleep – like the hypnotic flash of neon coming in from the street.

Even under the cold sheet of fluorescent light in her living room, I felt warm.

My Korea – A sea of yellow flowers

November 3, 2009 - 6:29 pm Comments Off on My Korea – A sea of yellow flowers

It was the four of them today. Four strangers connected only by Korea.

An Italian-American with a Korean face.

A woman whose benevolent smile reflected a mix of heritages including North Korean.

A Korean who never knew Korea except through the eyes of an alienated American girl.

A sister who carried the light of Korea in her almond shaped but Caucasian eyes.

They explored a sculpture park like giddy school girls playing hooky.

One of whom was especially naughty, even unbenownst to the other three, until it was too late.

A sea of yellow flowers carried their laughter into photograph after photograph.

Deep inside them something stirred as each took a flower and placed it in the other’s soft straight hair.

My Korea – Insadong and Adoptee Conference

April 6, 2009 - 2:30 pm Comments Off on My Korea – Insadong and Adoptee Conference

Mingle among glass curtained shops with delicate celadon pottery and calligraphy brushes.
Skinny, happy, unhappy young ladies.
The comic toy book store on the 2nd floor couldn’t hide from me!
Kitschy postcards say “Have fun in Seoul!” while a Korean Ultraman battles a pseudo-Godzilla rampage in the background.

Bubbling hot pot brims with gochu slices swimming violently up a river of blue crab, sukat, spring onions, tofu, and slippery fat noodles.
Laura is amazed we found the place.

I hear the rustle of rainbow hanboks and see wind-swollen pillows of embroidered silk flower out and fall from the sash tied under their breasts.
A tinny crash counters the bellow of an hourglass shaped hand drum.

Pahn-ppahn, Bah-rum-pa-ra-bahm
Pahn-ppahn, Bah-rum-pa-ra-bahm

Like a child I memorize the cadence while clutching Laura’s satin sleeve.
In a ballroom filled with glistening Korean eyes from Denmark, Chicago, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Sweden;

it was I who felt like I had come home.


Photos of the trip coming soon…


My Korea

April 2, 2009 - 4:17 am Comments Off on My Korea

Anyoung hashimnika echoes softly around me.

Rumbles under my swollen feet remind me I’m on a plane to Seoul.

I struggle to replace my Mom’s colloquial slang with proper hangul in my head.