Eugene Cho

father’s day tribute

Happy Father’s Day to each of you.  My parents who live in San Francisco visited us last week.  We very much enjoyed our time and we were immensely excited to hear the news they shared with us:  they’ve decided to move to Seattle in the coming year.  After years of inviting, encouraging, and enticing, it appears our efforts will come to fruition…

From this past Sunday’s Seattle Times paper, I enjoyed reading a feature story entitled “The Heart of It: From His Dad’s Death, a Son Searches for the Meaning of Life.”  The story is written by Michael Ko who also happens to attend Quest.  He leads a community group with his wife, Liz.  I was privileged to be able to officiate their wedding about a year ago…

michaelko.jpg

Couple years ago when I attended Michael’s father’s funeral, it dawned on me that his father, Hi Sun Ko, was one of the first people I met in Seattle [couple years before I met Michael].  My wife and I flew out to Seattle in March 1997 to interview for a position at a Korean-American church in Lynnwood.  By coincidence, his father was on the interview committee.  This is a very well written story about Mike’s relationship with his father – then and now; there was much in this article that resonated with me.  Here’s a short excerpt from the article:

The night my father died, an older Korean man, a family friend, told me not to cry in front of my mother. He said my first job was to take care of her, and after the funeral, I should find someplace private and cry then.

That Korean male detachment again.

I know I have some of it, too. Maybe that’s why I clamp up.

But I also know I want to be different from my father in that way. I don’t want to bottle up my feelings until they become toxic.

I sought counseling after his death, thinking it might help locate the feelings I was sure I had.

Some of those sessions, along with a firmer grounding in my family and faith, and abundant grace and patience from my wife — who lost her own mother to cancer — have given voice to some of those feelings.

I feel sadness and regret — that I didn’t know my father as well as I should have.

I feel fear — that I, too, might die early.

I feel confusion — about why he made some of the choices he made, and also that I’m understanding and explaining him wrong.

I feel weird — that I can’t stop wearing his ratty brown jacket that’s too short in the arms.

I feel grateful — that he moved his wife and children to another country, and despite all the obstacles, did what he could to feed us, keep us safe, buy us toys and somehow build a new life for us. I feel like I have a solid foundation for making my own decisions and being responsible for my own successes and failures.

I feel proud — that he lived a rich life, full of successes and mistakes and daring. Maybe there were times he wished for more, but my guess is that he was in the end satisfied. In his 50s, he would sometimes walk around our water-view house in Mukilteo — one result of my parents’ dry-cleaning toil — and say life was OK.

And I feel acceptance of our relationship — that any profound meaning in what transpired between us will become clear in its own time, not in mine, and that the tension in my chest will loosen, as it has been, as the days pass. [read the full story]

For those interested, here’s another article written in the NY Times by a Korean-American novelist about his relationship with his father.

Filed under: asian-american, family, seattle

6 Responses

  1. james says:

    wow. what an incredible article. i loved the way michael gave an honest perspective of his relationship with his father. reminds me to spend some quality time with my father.

  2. Joseon says:

    That’s cool how you wanted your parents to live closer to you. Blessings to you and your parents on the move.

  3. Wayne Park says:

    great articles; congrats on parents moving up.. I’ve been trying to get my parents out here, too..

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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