By Luke Mclaughlin, Senior
Even though my name is completely Irish, I am actually one quarter Korean from my mother’s side. My maternal grandmother left North Korea during the Korean war and moved to America before she gave birth to my mother. I’ve always wanted to visit Korea and learn more about my heritage, so when I found out my girlfriend, Rebecca Echazabal, was going to South Korea over spring break, I was both excited and intrigued: that she was going to have fun and that I would have an opportunity to learn more about my culture through her.
In South Korea, Rebecca first visited a shopping plaza called MyeongDong which has shops, street vendors, and many restaurants. Rebecca sent me pictures of the various foods she tried, such as bulgogi, kimchi, and kimbap. Her pictures reminded me of all the times I would visit my grandmother and have a feast waiting for me. It gave me nostalgia as I not only remembered how the food looked and tasted, but also I remembered the aromas.
Next, Rebecca and her mother took a four hour bus ride to the countryside of Korea, Jinhae, where a cherry blossom festival was held. The pictures she sent me of the iconic Sakura trees made me reminisce the sights I remember of my grandma’s house. Her house was beautifully decorated with cherry blossoms filling up long paintings in her hallways and tea sets embellished with sakura flowers.
At the end of her trip, Rebecca and her mother encountered a studio where they could rent a hanbok, the traditional Korean dress, for the day. The pictures Rebecca sent me of herself in the brightly colored, traditional Korean dress were just like the pictures I always saw of my mother and grandmother, in which they wore the same type of dress.
It was extremely satisfying to experience my culture and relive my memories through my girlfriend’s trip to Korea. Having these memories rush through me, made me call my grandma to talk about Korea. We had a long phone call, recalling the past and gaining insight on what life in Korea was like for her. I now feel that I appreciate my culture more and will visit my grandma during summer to relive my past.