January 13: Let’s Celebrate “Korean American Day”!

My children call me “Omma,” the Korean word for “mommy.” It’s my favorite word in the world.

Our trip to South Korean back in 2010 was very brief. We arrived on a Monday. We left on a Friday.

Oh, and we met our son.

But even though we spent a mere five days in Seoul, it left an indelible mark on both of us. Seoul is trendy and modern but steeped in tradition. It is bustling but also warm and welcoming. We loved being swept up into the energy and the pride of the city. When we weren’t, you know, preparing to become parents, we were soaking in as much of Seoul as possible. It’s hard not to be awestruck by the architecture of the Changdeokgung Palace, the serenity of the Jogyesa Temple, and the creativity and movement of the Korean markets. South Korea is a truly beautiful country.

Aside from meeting our beautiful baby boy, my favorite memory of our trip was a pair of impromptu tour guides. With only one full day for sightseeing during our stay, we had planned the day out, almost to the minute, to maximize the time we had. But as we got off the subway on our way to the Jogyesa Temple, it was unclear which direction we should take. Within moments, what I can only describe as our Korean Fairy Godmother, swooped in, looked at the temple we pointed to on our map, and motioned for us to follow her.

The language barrier prohibited us from asking any other questions, but she seemed intent upon taking us to our destination…whether her husband wanted to or not. Which he didn’t.

What we thought would be a five minute walk lasted almost half an hour, and our new friend walked so fast she was almost hard to keep up with. Luckily for us, her disgruntled husband slowed her down a bit as she turned around to fuss at him at regular intervals for whatever he was saying about us disrupting his day.

When we finally turned a corner, and the temple rose up in front of us, she gestured proudly toward it, indicated our profuse gratitude was unnecessary (although I think her husband may have disagreed), and they disappeared into the current of people walking by.

South Korea is full of people just like our sweet “tour guide” who make their country proud every day. And even though our son spent only 13 months in Seoul, I have no doubt he will spend his life in America making South Korean proud every day, too.

learning a little bit about South Korea here!

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