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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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

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • 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 || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 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. || 3 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. || 6 days ago