Eugene Cho

land of the morning calm

Several folks have asked us why we have chosen to go to South Korea – also known as the Land of the Morning Calm – for our sabbatical. 

One of the reasons why we have decided to spend two months in South Korea is because Korea boasts some of the world’s most incredible beaches:  beautiful, intimate and not overcrowded, free of consumerism, and exclusive and private.  Check out these amazing pictures and don’t be envious.

Okay, here are the other reasons:

  1. Minhee and I were born in Korea.  I immigrated to San Francisco at age 6.  Minhee immigrated at age 26 after we married in Korea in 1997.  My parents were both born in what is now known as North Korea and they have stories that are unbelievable as they fled the emergence of the Communist regime in the North.  We are “returning” home.
  2. We want our children to experience the language, culture, and life of Korea.  As Korean-Americans, they have the privilege of living with the beauty of two cultures.
  3. Minhee’s mother who is in her 70s still live in Korea and this will be wonderful for Minhee to spend some quality time with her mother.
  4. We wanted to travel to a place where we didn’t have to pay rent or pay for hotels.  By subletting our home, we should be able to cover our airplane expenses which were VERY expensive due to the rising cost of gas.
  5. We’re hoping for some “divine” connections with people who will resonate and support our vision to fight global poverty.
  6. Food. Korean food.  All the time.  Like everytime.  Everywhere. 

Simple question: 

Of the places you’ve traveled to [locally or globally], what’s your favorite destination[s].

Filed under: family, travel

29 Responses

  1. amy says:

    wow. those pics don’t seem real.

    anyway, my favorite travel destination thus far is new york city. no place like it in the world.

  2. Donna says:

    Thanks for the early morning laugh at the “intimate” beaches, Eugene! And hope you have a wonderful time in Korea.

    My favorite place on earth is Hong Kong. Spent a week there in 1999, on my way to the mainland to get my daughter & it was love at first sight.

  3. Teresa says:

    Wow! Sure another family can fit on one of those beaches? Favorite place=Thailand (all of it!) ….for the country girl from Whidbey Island, being immersed in such a giant reality check can’t be beat…

  4. Rachael says:

    My favorite place was my first mission trip to Tarapoto, Peru…it was a the Rocky Mountains covered in rainforest. Untouched, beautiful land for miles. The people had never encountered commercialism or “the world” and were flawless. No make up, name brand clothes, or insecurity of their looks. And their smiles…Each morning I was able to experience God’s indescribable sunrises and end it with His sunsets on the top of a hotel roof. I didn’t need anything but His presence…nothing distracted me. I will never forget that place.

  5. Vancouver, but hey, it also has a district of grinding third-world poverty and diseases, so everywhere has its downsides. Its pretty much the only place I’ve fallen in love with whilst traveling, though I regret we didn’t head south; I hear there’s a nice city just over the border!

  6. Joseon says:

    Have a great time in the motherland! Which beach on the peninsula are you at? Haeundae?

  7. Tyler says:

    those pictures are just unreal. i can hardly believe that is real.

  8. Randall says:

    Best trip I ever took was the one that brought me to Seattle.

    But I’d love to visit England again.

  9. Dan says:

    now that I don’t live there anymore it has to be home, Prince Edward Island

  10. smileforjc says:

    A BIG fat welcome to your HOME!
    I will be waiting for you.

  11. Ben says:

    My heart is in Seoul. My heart is with my people, the Motherland!

    I can’t wait to go back. Enjoy it all. I absolutely loved living in Korean and visiting. I’m really glad my parents gave me the chance to hang out there some summers. Lots of amazing memories and maintained my identity/love for all that is Korea both good and not so good.

  12. Joey says:

    of the few places i’ve traveled to, brazil is surely my favorite. no particular destination though any beach there is nothing short of amazing. oddly enough, some of them look just like the ones in the pictures.
    enjoy your sabbatical.
    Peace be with you.

  13. amanda says:

    Haven’t travelled much, but you could stick me in Paris (with or without a map) and I would be a happy girl. The history, the architecture, the food, the unfamiliar language. Awesome.

  14. Daniel Putkowski says:

    My favorite destination is a tie between Spain and Aruba. Photos at http://www.bentpage.wordpress.com. Your photos from Korea as fascinating. It’s on my list of future stops (ASAP). Thanks for the pics.

  15. Matt says:

    did you just give away your wife’s age?

  16. eugenecho says:

    @everyone: those aren’t my pics. someone send those to me. crazy crazy.

    @matt: no one reads this blog and folks know we’re both pushing 40.

  17. chenster22 says:

    taiwan for sure. parents are still there… amazing food… cheap bubble tea… great food. wait i said that already.

    yeah the food.

  18. Joseon says:

    Just saw more pics of Haeundae Beach on this blog:

    http://coolstuff.floristone.com/china-beach.html

    I gotta go there some time. I heard the international film festival in Pusan is worth check out, also.

  19. LOL those pics were a shock.

    Sounds like you have an incredible trip ahead.

    On beauty alone: favorite travel spot- a toss-up between Zermatt, Switzerland and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica (and surrounding rainforests). The north shore of Kauai past Princeville is a close third. Locally- I have to admit that east of the mountains, particularly the northeast corner of WA state near Winthrop makes me feel misty-eyed and mystical. Just gorgeous over there. Very cool old west vibe too.

  20. Jan Owen says:

    1) Kauai, Maui, all things Hawaii
    2) Pawleys Island, Sc
    3) Pacific Northwest – Washington State
    4) I spent about 4 hours on the “Corona Beach” (you know, miles from everywhere) in Mexico and I loved that……..

  21. jen says:

    I am a Korean-American and lived in korea for 2 1/2 years. so what’s the connection between South Korea and your non profit organization? Am I missing something here? I don’t mean to be rude, but I think Korea should be one of the last places for your children to experience ..free of consumerism, exclusivity, and privacy. Korea is anything but as you are portraying it to be.. at least not the Korea I know. Korea, particularly in seoul and pusan, are all about plastic surgeries, louis vuittons, mercedes, and exclusivity of members only at the golf clubs. Not for the quality but purely for the status..

  22. la v says:

    favorite place in the world? probably locarno, switzerland, where i first realized that i was in love with my husband… (we were just friends back then!) whatever love potion they served in my wine at that little trattoria worked! it was magical. we even saw a shooting star on our way home!

  23. […] my family and I should be around 40,000 feet in the air somewhere over the ocean on route to the Land of the Morning Calm.  We’ve been really busy the past couple days cleaning, packing, and working on stuff.  […]

  24. eugenecho says:

    @jen: no direct connection except that i am working on the org while on sabbatical.

    korea is both beautiful and depraved like any other place. like you, i was stunned by its obsession with materialism and luxury good but it would be wrong to assume that stereotype applies to everyone and all of korea. it’s unfortunate you had such a horrible experience in your time there. i also lived and worked in korea from 95-97.

    and apologies. you’re clearly new to the blog. my description of korea in the opening paragraph is called “sarcasm” or at least an attempt at such.

    peace to you.

  25. iy. says:

    um, i asked that question (favorite place in the world, or a place dreamed of traveling to) once, and the person looked at me blankly. as if the premises that one would have a favorite place or that one would travel were silly. yes, that happened in seattle. sigh.

    i love korea too. i wish i spoke korean better, and i wish i could fit into the clothes that korean designers make. but i’m an “american” size. ; )

    that said — mmm, the food! my #1 reason for going there. =) enjoy.

  26. […] adventures in korea [pics & commentary] As part of our three months sabbatical,  we are traveling to Korea for approximately two months. For those that are interested, “our kids” will […]

  27. mirianne says:

    I’d say Vancouver. You can meet the whole world there.

  28. […] family trip to korea Our family trekked back to the Korea for a six week excursion for various purposes but especially because Korea is our “heart home.”  We had a great time – even despite […]

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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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