I’m not on top of updating as I wish to be. Although PC 펑s (bang [room]) are ubiquitous, time is not. I promise many updates about my journey. It has been incredible and it is not over yet. I just got to Seoul last night. This is the first time in 22 years to be here. It’s not like I remember anything at the age of three months. It feels a bit eerie. I keep questioning myself whether the woman in front of me is my mom or wondering what my life would be like if I was one of those cute little kids I see all around here. The language barrier is really frustrating especially because I get strange looks when I have to say “I’m sorry, no Korean… English” in Korean. I probably say it with a thick American accent. They don’t really understand the separation between outside and inside of a person because Korea is such a homogeneous nation. However, like the rapidly developing economy and culture, people are becoming less traditional and more open-minded with each generation.
I am very culture shocked by what I have witnessed so far. Yet there are so many similarities with America. I truly love Korea so far though. I stayed a week in Busan and randomly met a handful of other Korean adoptees who have been living in Korea to rediscover their roots. I learned a lot from them and shared an immediate connection from the very first day. Busan is a diverse city. I saw some ancient temples, climbed through some beautiful mountains, walked along cliffs, hung out on a few beaches, and enjoyed the endless nightlife. There is a good mixture of traditional and modern culture in Busan. I can see myself staying there for a long time.
We eventually worked our way to Seoraksan National Park and stopping at a few cities along the way. We stayed in Sokcho near the beach. Seoraksan is my favorite part of Korea so far. We hiked quite a few kilometers both days and enjoyed the beautiful breezy weather, immaculate landscapes, ancient temples and so forth. My legs turned to jelly when we climbed to a cave. Hiking is a serious activity in Korea – they are all geared up and competitive about it like they are with everything else. The last few hours in Seoraksan we took the cable car and then climbed a bunch of stairs and some really scary rocks to a tiny peak on the top. There were two other Americans who were brave enough to climb. My heart was beating differently because the beauty took my breath away (really it was because the air was so thin 900 meters above sea level). The pictures cannot capture how beautiful it was. The once super tall Buddha now looked like an insignificant dot. We saw the city scape of Sokcho and the Sea of Japan. We saw some islands and some other isolated mountains. It was incredible!
We are in Seoul now and I’ll stay put here for the next two weeks.