A Korean Aussie adoptee goes back home for the first time. Hilarity ensues?
As I walked through Incheon Airport, chatted to Asian American tourists and caught an express subway to Seoul, it struck me how different I felt coming to Korea this time round. I guess I’ve already been through the culture shock and the intensity of the family search.
I’m not a particularly experienced traveler, but to me it’s a strange feeling to fly to another continent, already know where to go and meet up with a friend. I felt like I hadn’t left “home” – wherever that is nowadays.
We caught a bus to Jongno, where the famous golden King Sejong sits near the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The bus crawled along slowly. A huge protest was marching and shouting through the city. Police buses (!) lined the streets. The signs were printed on yellow card. Later, my friend looked up some of the words from the signs. They were calling for an objective investigation into the Sewol incident, free of political and monetary corruption that plagues Korean politics.
Jongno is a pleasant semi-residential area with alleyways crammed full of food and markets.
Obviously, we had to stop somewhere to eat.
Jongno is also the home of the South Korean president. Groups of police are hired to keep watch on street corners. I thought it was hilarious. They looked like they were a choir about to break out into song.
My home for the next week or so is at KoRoot, a special guesthouse just for adoptees, run by kind Pastor Kim and his wife who I met last year on First Trip Home.
I say I’m relaxed now. But tomorrow I’m meeting up with Umma. Completely out of the blue, Umma announced to me that she’s going to come up to Seoul to see me.
“Do you have somewhere to stay? How long are you going to be in Seoul?” I asked, feeling a bit bad for making my mother get on an 8 hour bus ride.
“I’m staying with your sister. I’ll figure it out when I get there,” she said breezily.
“Should I organise an interpreter?”
“No. We should talk to each other. It will help you learn Korean.”
“Oh okay,” I said casually. OH NO MY KOREAN IS TERRIBLE AAARGH! said my brain.
“Oh dear. I feel like I’ve ruined your weekend,” I apologised to Sister 3.
“No! Don’t be sorry,” said Sister 3. “We want to see you.”
And my heart sang.