Welcome to HeL[L]
HeLeNa. 07-03-95. kpoper. SHAWOL FLAME. American. Korean. highschoolsenior. NewYorker. pink. food. only child. violin. badminton. NYU PRE-MED freshman!
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“Yejin is here, father and mother. She came in place of your cherished fourth son,” my uncle said.

           It was a steamy, sweltering day in Daegu, South Korea. We were standing on a grassy mountainside, on the sizzling ground, surrounded by smoothly carved gravestones. We were on my family’s plot of land, where I was conjoined with my ancestors, whom I have never met before.  

           “He took off for America, leaving us behind 30 years ago. But look what he did there, he gave you a beautiful granddaughter to look after.”

           My heart was heavy, full of the love my ancestors are giving me, and nearly bursting from the pressure of their curious eyes. I felt them wonder about me. “She’s Byung-tcheon’s daughter? The youngest of our grandchildren? Why didn’t she visit us sooner? She’s the American?” Their questions pound into my ears, yet they cooled me down as I grasped onto their caring feelings for me.

           “I apologize for Byung-tcheon not being with us here today. I miss him very much too…” my uncle trails off as he blink back his salty tears.

           We fell into a wistful silence.

           “Halmoni, Harabeoji, it’s me, Yejin” I say. “I am really sorry for not being able to come see you sooner. Appa, your son, is 58 years old now and is doing very well. These days, he is extremely proud of me for getting into a prestigious American college and likes to show it off to every one; I wish you were here to share in his joy.”

I pause and look back at my father’s past. I remember the hardships he told me about for being an immigrant and I began to relive the moments of sacrifice he had made for me. He would be gone during the wee hours of dawn and come back home in the darkest hours after I finished eating dinner. But I would sit with him as he ate and listen to him talk about his day.

“One of the bus drivers treated us to lunch, because it was his last day working.”

“Why? Is he old?”

“Yep, he’s retiring. He worked at the bus company for a long time!”

“When will you retire?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe when you have job and settle down,” he brightly replied.

My dad never earned much, but, somehow, he would always make sure to get me everything I wanted, no matter the cost. My parents would constantly argue over our budget, and yet, they wholeheartedly agreed upon sending me to one of the most expensive schools in the country. Throughout all my life, they set incredibly high goals for themselves in order for me to receive the best of everything.

As I reflected, I added “Although he was in America for 30 years, he raised me for 18 of them. I know I am the fruit of his efforts and that I have great responsibility for being the only American-born person in our family. Please do not worry about appa, I will take care of him. I will keep him happy and prideful.

           Halmoni, harabeoji, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for my family. And thank you, especially, for my father; thank you for making him into a great dad. I hope, that one day, I will stand here together with him—together as a family.”

Having satisfied my ancestors’ concerns, my uncle and I performed sebae, a deep traditional bow, on the sweating ground. We quenched the grasses’ thirst by sprinkling soju around the peaceful stones and placed beautiful bouquets on top of them.

           And then we solemnly took a family portrait with my grandparents and relatives. It is a picture that my father would constantly look at for the rest of his life, reminding him of what he gave up for a brighter future.

           As my uncle and I slowly drove back down the mountainside, I thought “Farewell, halmeoni and harabeoji. It has been an honor to have finally met you. I will always remember our family when I return to America and will take care of my father for you. I will return very soon with him. I promise.”  

          


Welcome to HeL[L]
Welcome to HeL[L]
HeLeNa. 07-03-95. kpoper. SHAWOL FLAME. American. Korean. highschoolsenior. NewYorker. pink. food. only child. violin. badminton. NYU PRE-MED freshman!
Comments

“Yejin is here, father and mother. She came in place of your cherished fourth son,” my uncle said.

           It was a steamy, sweltering day in Daegu, South Korea. We were standing on a grassy mountainside, on the sizzling ground, surrounded by smoothly carved gravestones. We were on my family’s plot of land, where I was conjoined with my ancestors, whom I have never met before.  

           “He took off for America, leaving us behind 30 years ago. But look what he did there, he gave you a beautiful granddaughter to look after.”

           My heart was heavy, full of the love my ancestors are giving me, and nearly bursting from the pressure of their curious eyes. I felt them wonder about me. “She’s Byung-tcheon’s daughter? The youngest of our grandchildren? Why didn’t she visit us sooner? She’s the American?” Their questions pound into my ears, yet they cooled me down as I grasped onto their caring feelings for me.

           “I apologize for Byung-tcheon not being with us here today. I miss him very much too…” my uncle trails off as he blink back his salty tears.

           We fell into a wistful silence.

           “Halmoni, Harabeoji, it’s me, Yejin” I say. “I am really sorry for not being able to come see you sooner. Appa, your son, is 58 years old now and is doing very well. These days, he is extremely proud of me for getting into a prestigious American college and likes to show it off to every one; I wish you were here to share in his joy.”

I pause and look back at my father’s past. I remember the hardships he told me about for being an immigrant and I began to relive the moments of sacrifice he had made for me. He would be gone during the wee hours of dawn and come back home in the darkest hours after I finished eating dinner. But I would sit with him as he ate and listen to him talk about his day.

“One of the bus drivers treated us to lunch, because it was his last day working.”

“Why? Is he old?”

“Yep, he’s retiring. He worked at the bus company for a long time!”

“When will you retire?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe when you have job and settle down,” he brightly replied.

My dad never earned much, but, somehow, he would always make sure to get me everything I wanted, no matter the cost. My parents would constantly argue over our budget, and yet, they wholeheartedly agreed upon sending me to one of the most expensive schools in the country. Throughout all my life, they set incredibly high goals for themselves in order for me to receive the best of everything.

As I reflected, I added “Although he was in America for 30 years, he raised me for 18 of them. I know I am the fruit of his efforts and that I have great responsibility for being the only American-born person in our family. Please do not worry about appa, I will take care of him. I will keep him happy and prideful.

           Halmoni, harabeoji, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for my family. And thank you, especially, for my father; thank you for making him into a great dad. I hope, that one day, I will stand here together with him—together as a family.”

Having satisfied my ancestors’ concerns, my uncle and I performed sebae, a deep traditional bow, on the sweating ground. We quenched the grasses’ thirst by sprinkling soju around the peaceful stones and placed beautiful bouquets on top of them.

           And then we solemnly took a family portrait with my grandparents and relatives. It is a picture that my father would constantly look at for the rest of his life, reminding him of what he gave up for a brighter future.

           As my uncle and I slowly drove back down the mountainside, I thought “Farewell, halmeoni and harabeoji. It has been an honor to have finally met you. I will always remember our family when I return to America and will take care of my father for you. I will return very soon with him. I promise.”