While living here in Korea, roughly 7,000 miles from the East Coast of the U.S., we have come to truly appreciate the meaning of “home.” Of course, we miss our families and friends back in the states, but we have been humbled to be invited into the homes of some of our new friends here in Ulsan.
Mr. Kim’s House
First, was a visit to the Kim household. Mr. Kim, is a History teacher at Valerie’s school, and due to a crowded schedule he was unable to attend. We spent a lovely evening with his wife, and his daughter, Sally. Sally is an English major, so communication was no problem! We were served a wonderful meal of bimbimop, (mixed rice) along with several side dishes including salad with homemade dressing, and of course Kimchi! We also had homemade yogurt with honey and some fresh Ulsan pears. Sally was kind enough to pick us up and drop us off at home. We spent a lot of time asking her questions about Korean culture and answering questions about American life. She is getting married in January and we wish her many blessings as we have been so blessed in our marriage.
Mrs. Ahn’s House
Next, Valerie’s co-teacher, Mrs. Ahn, invited us to her home on a Saturday afternoon. We had an awesome surprise as we were told about a fun opportunity to go canoeing in the large river that runs through downtown Ulsan. Apparently this free service runs from Spring through Fall and we were able to take a canoe out of the very last day of the season. Mr. Kim, Mrs. Ahn’s husband, drove us out to the river where we boarded a canoe along with Doh Hyun and Jun Hyun, their wonderful Children. Doh Hyun is 5 years old and Jun Hyun is 11. Both were so much fun to be with and are becoming excellent English speakers. For dinner, we enjoyed pork bulgogi, vegetable mixed rice, fresh salad with a special treat (feta cheese!) and kimchi. We were also treated to TWO desserts! First, cherry topped cheesecake and then… Apple Pie! Imagine our excitement over a dish that is so American! After dinner, we were entertained by Jun Hyun’s beautiful piano music and Doh Hyun’s recitation of the Korean alphabet and syllables. (This actually really impressed us since we are learning on the same level as Doh Hyun!) As the children retreated to their bedroom, we were able to talk with Mr. Kim and Mrs. Ahn and had a great visit with them. Afterward, Mrs. Ahn and the kids drove us all the way back to our apartment. By the time we arrived, Doh Hyun was fast asleep and we were filled with excitement over our fun evening. Incidentally, we were also sent home with leftovers! Yum…
Mr. Oh’s House
Next, Mr. Oh, also a teacher from Valerie’s school, invited us to his home for a Thursday night dinner. We had the privilege of meeting his wife, Mrs. Moon, and his two sons, Cheong Hyeon and Dae Goon. Both are teenagers and they are honestly two of the smartest kids we have ever met. Both are in the top of their classes at school and they speak and understand English almost as well as we do! Before dinner, Dae Goon produced his Poom (Black) Belt Certificate for Taekwondo and made us both jealous. Both boys are Black Belts, both play piano beautifully and Cheong Hyeon also has a video making hobby! Wow! The kids were taught English by their mother, who is a private English tutor. For dinner, we were served ShabuShabu, a typed of thinly sliced steak boiled with vegetables. It is served straight from the boiler and picked out with chopsticks, so it sort of fun to eat, not to mention delicious. We were also treated to fresh fruit, coffee cake and homemade yogurt! We really enjoyed our time with the Oh family and feel so blessed to have these new friends.
So far, we have three more invites pending! We are so overwhelmed at the thought of so many kind people willing to invite us into their homes. We have enjoyed each experience and are looking forward to telling you about the others.
UPDATE: Read about our other home visits here.