09 February 2008

To visit or not to visit

It’s been 39 years since I left Korea. And I truly consider myself first and foremost an American and a Puerto Rican. In all those years, I had never wanted to find my birth family.

When I was younger and people asked me if I wanted to find my real mother, I would always say, “Why? She’s at home in Newport, Tennessee.” I’d known no other.

In the spring of 1995, my then husband-to-be wanted to take me back to Korea for our honeymoon. I said, “Are you kidding me? There are tons of places in America that I haven’t seen or experienced. I’d rather explore my own country, thank you.”

But since the births of my children, I have had underlying urges to know more about my birth country. I do love Korean food [especiallly kimchi and Korean citron tea]. And I have since made a Korean-American friend.

My mother passed away shortly after my first child was born. She always encouraged me to learn more about Korea, but I never really showed much interest. My father had been stationed in Korea during the Korean War. Despite my rolling eyes, my dad loved to use Korean words and phrases with me, and he introduced me to kimchi, a favorite food of his.

My seven-year-old son was drawn to Tae Kwon Do, a Korean martial art. He’s learned to count in Korean. His best friend is going to Korea this summer, and he’s quite keen on the idea. So, now that I have children who are curious about that side of their lineage, I would love to go to Korea with them, so that we all could learn more about Korea together!