Wednesday, January 02, 2019

a Korean mom visits Korea after 40 years

My own mom had a similar reaction to this lady when she returned to Korea in the mid-Aughts. We had visited Korea as a family rather briefly in 1986 and 1989, doing the whirlwind-tour thing, but Mom came to Seoul in the early 2000s, when I was a university instructor. She once tried giving a W10,000 bill to a bus driver, who yelled at her. Her visit to her old college, Sookmyung Women's University (where I taught from 2005 to 2008), was now unrecognizable to her.

Anyway, if I'd had any presence of mind, I should have done something like what this guy did and recorded my mother's reactions to coming back to Korea and realizing that the whole country had evolved out from under her memories. Like the mother in the video, Mom had sort-of kept up with the times by watching Korean TV in America, but watching TV and actually walking down a crowded Seoul sidewalk are two very different things.

Those who've followed my journey know that the above video is also somewhat poignant for me. There's a moment, during a street scene, when the mother holds out some food for her son to eat. When I saw that, I thought, Yeah: that was Mom. That was my mom, too.

And while I'm feeling mawkish: I just dug up this 2005 email from Mom.

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