I love having a late summer birthday–when the days are still long but the air begins to smell like early autumn. When I was young, my birthday usually marked the start of a new school year. Last year, I spent it moving into my new place in New York City. This year, I ate so much delicious food and cake in Korea, surrounded by loved ones. My time in Korea was already coming to a close.
In time for my departure, my uncle suggested taking a road trip to Yeoju–a city famous for ceramics and for housing the tomb of nation’s beloved King Sejong. It’s also my grandparents’ hometown, my father’s childhood home, and the site of so many old family stories.
It was my first time there.
My uncle looking out at the Han River, remembering the days before the bridge, and crossing over the rough waters on a small boat. My father told me one of his most vivid childhood memories is of nearly drowning in the Han River and being saved by a soldier.
I remember my grandmother telling me that she walked all the way from Seoul to Yeoju when the Korean War broke out. She tried to drink from the Han River, but it was red. It took her a week to reach Yeoju, and she arrived all alone.
A young couple talking under a shaded area by the tree, where my father’s childhood home used to be. My uncle says they had to walk down the mountain and through several other villages for hours to get to school each day.
And finally, I wanted to share an exciting news! Ongdalsam hosted a photography exhibit, featuring a collection of photographs I took during my time there. My new and old friends, Jacqui, Sonja, Ji Sun, and Sooji traveled to Chungju over a very special weekend at Ongdalsam. It was wonderful to be able to share life in the mountains with them, and Sooji wrote a lovely post about her experience.