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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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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