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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 4 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago