Eugene Cho

back in seattle & missing budaejjigae

After six weeks or so in Korea, we returned to Seattle this week.  It was a long flight but we’re glad to be back home.  There’s nothing like “home, sweet, home” but we’re certainly going through some reverse culture shock right now. 

Here are some random thoughts from our trip and our return & my homage to a Korean stew called budaejjigae:

1.  It was so darn hot there.  I hate humidity.  I have no idea how I worked through in 1993-1995 – in a suit every day.  When we returned to Seattle, the weather was in the 80s and as crazy as this sounds, we were all a little cold.  Our daughters wore jackets on occasions the first couple of days.

2.  Korea is so crowded as I shared with you earlier.  On the one night we went to a street shopping area called Dongdaemun, I was shocked how packed it was – at 3am in the morning.  I’m guessing there was at least 50,000 people there at 3am.  It is so quiet here in Seattle.  I’m feeling weirded out…feeling like I’m living in a bubble completely isolated from the larger world.  Seattle almost seems like a suburb or a rural area compared to the hustle and bustle of Seoul.

3.  It feels weird to be driving.  We drove once in Korea.  Seoul has an incredible subway system.  You can get anywhere you need to.  Wish we had a subway system here in Seattle.  What do you think about building some sort of Monorail system?

4.  Asides from the subway, we walked like we’ve never walked before.  I wish I had a pedometer because I’m curious how many miles we walked over those six weeks. I’m going to guess 15 miles – likely more.  I suspect that is one of the reasons why obesity isn’t as big of a problem in Korea.  People are constantly walking.  In addition, hiking is the unofficial national hobby.

5.  I miss Korean drama.  Never enjoyed it before but may need to watch with Minhee in the future.

6.  We were eager to return to Seattle when we were in Seoul.  And now that we’re here, we’re missing Seoul.  Strange.  I miss my mother-in-law…Spending time with her was the main reason why we went to Korea for the first leg of our sabbatical. 

7.  Did I mention it’s really quiet here?  Did the rapture take place?

8.  It feels really weird to be carrying around my smartphone.  It was refreshing [most of the time] to be without a cellphone in Korea – except when I really needed to make a phone call or when people stare at me because I tell them I don’t have a cellphone.  When I returned back this week and turned on my Treo phone, I was amazed that there was only one phone message – and that was from a telemarketer.  Cool.

9.  I’m going to miss the total access to Korean food – anywhere and anytime.  Food like the bu-dae-jji-gae.  What is budaejjigae?  From wikipedia:

a thick Korean soup similar to a Western stew. Soon after the Korean War, meat was scarce in Seoul, Korea. Some people made use of surplus foods from U.S. Army bases around the Uijeongbu area such as hot dogs and canned ham (such as Spam) and incorporated it into a traditional spicy soup flavored with gochujang (red chili paste).

Budaejjigae  is still popular in South Korea, and the dish often incorporates more modern ingredients such as instant ramen noodles and even sliced American cheese. Other ingredients may include ground beef, beans, minari (dropwort), green onions, tteok, tofu, chili peppers, kimchi, garlic, mushrooms, and onions.

It’s a mixture of many things but I have to be honest, I was really weirded out to see macaroni in our budaejjigae.  That just seemed a little wrong.

Here are some pics of one of our budaejjigae meales in their natural progression:

Filed under: family

7 Responses

  1. Shaun King says:

    Welcome back man! Glad you had such a rich experience and got to spend time with family. Wondering how you will integrate your experiences this summer back into the work you do.

    Give yourselves a week or so to make the transition back to the States. It gets us all.

    -Shaun & Crew

  2. Welcome back. Come to Arkansas and you’ll feel right at home… Temperature wise that is!

  3. gar says:

    welcome back!

    and a Korean stew with SPAM in it? mmmm, sounds tasty…

  4. rachelsumner says:

    yay, back in seattle! i wasnt sure when the cho’s were returning. i will be back just for the first week of september. looking forwarding to seeing you and my quest home! anything i can bring you? a brat? some kraut? a real beer?

  5. eugenecho says:

    rachel: yay!

    all those stuff sounds great.

  6. Tracy says:

    Those look good to eat. Yummy. Glad to know yall are back in the States.

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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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