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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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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