My Halmoni, my Uma, Deaconness Yoon, and myself shared lunch together. Our bellies and hearts were so full!
Jeni’s ceramic pieces have been resting on the kitchen island outside of her handmade leather harness. I felt like my Uma and Halmoni probably didn’t know what they were all about. So I took the opportunity to show them all the little Columbus’ printed on the plates and bottom of the cups. My Halmoni said the mugs without handles were hard to hold, so I brought her and Deaconness Yoon different cups with handles. 🙂
We spun the serving platter around a couple times before we figured which way was North on the map. Then we located ourselves on the map. We located where church might be. We guesstimated where Deaconness Yoon’s home is, in Dublin. We guesstimated where Deaconness Yoon’s son’s business is located in the Short North, too. It was an entertaining moment within the overall conversation.
Deaconness Yoon’s family is from a line of nobility; there are many Yoon queens in Korean history. The detail about noble lineage was provided by my Halmoni, and confirmed by Deaconness Yoon. My Halmoni’s Ahbuji (translation: father) was a historian in his spare time.
I am always curious what each Korean family’s experience is with the Japanese invasion and the Korean War. Her family lived in 전주 (pronounced like “Juhn-Jooh”), which is on the southwest side of the peninsula. We learned she is born in 1931, 5 years younger than my Halmoni. She married at 19 years old, which was considered late for her generation. While the men went to defend their cities and the country, the women did their best to hide in safe places. Most of the time, important belongings were left behind and looted by the enemy lines. She was newly married when she fled to safety in the rural parts. She stayed with her in-laws; they were very hospitable and gracious. She was without a child when they fled. Later, she and her husband reunited and had three children. When their children were adults, they immigrated to the USA in the 80s for their future professions’ sake. To give the opportunity for grander dreams to be realized.
I often find when my Halmoni and others’ Halmonis’ gather… they talk of how significant God’s role in Korean history has been. Pyongyang was once called the Jerusalem of the east. The rebuilding of the southern part of the Korean peninsula was an intricate joint effort of churches, businesses, government persons, and schools. It went from a third world country to a first world country in under fifty years. Much of this history is being forgotten as the political climate tenses and shifts in South Korea…. impacting what is taught in schools and what is discussed.
Up to the mid-1990s(←clickable link), we had a common [stereotypical] saying in the Asian American immigrant community. “The Chinese come and build dry cleaners; the Japanese build restaurants; and the Koreans build churches.”
Whether it is Columbus proper, or other cities, the believing Korean diaspora community is knit together in the shared experience of where we come from and how we came to where we are.
Today, we looked at Jeni’s printed map on the serving platter–and we gave thanks. Thanks to God for where we live, how we live, and that we live here. Free to come, free to go, and free to stay.