K: My parents just spent two weeks with us in Korea. It was great to spend time with them and show them around. They packed quite a bit into those two weeks... a trip up to the DMZ, another trip to the second largest city in Korea (Busan), and a third trip to Jeju Island. I stole some of these pictures off my mom's camera, so I'm just going to cover the highlights. If you want to hear more about it, you'll have to give them a call. I'm sure they'd be more than happy to tell you all about it. :)
My parents arrived the week of the swine flu shut down, so Mark, SangKwun, and I were all able to greet them at the airport. I swear, I think they were the last ones off the plane! We kept waiting and waiting and then we saw them come through the glass doors with big smiles on their faces. Compared to their normal walking pace, they were practically sprinting toward us. Check out the blur on my mom's foot in the picture below!
Then, the 5 of us met Emily for a quick dinner. They hardly slept on the flight, so the sleep deprivation seemed to be hitting them hard. We dropped them off at their hotel for a good night's sleep.
The next day, we took them to a favorite sight in Korea, Gyeongbokgung Palace. The weather was perfect, so it was a great day to walk around. Interestingly enough, during that trip, my father stumbled upon TWO Korean people who could speak Spanish. Later on his Jeju trip, he also encountered a Korean woman who could speak French. Apparently, all it took was a trip to the Orient for him to practice his language skills.
Look at these two terrifying warriors! If you squint and shake your head while looking at this picture, they almost appear authentic.
Later that night, we met Birth Father, SangKwun, and Emily for the famous seafood meal at Noryangin Fish Market. Father took charge in the market and ordered us crab, massive shrimp, scallops, sashimi, and live squid. I think my Dad nearly passed out when he sat down to wriggling tentacles in front of him. He did NOT sample that dish.
Then my mom presented SangKwun and Birth Father with their gifts. She got birth father a photo frame with pictures of all of us. He really seemed to like it.
And us St. Louisans are relentless in trying to spread the Cardinal Fever around the world. She got SangKwun a Pujols jersey. We were hoping that he could wear it for the playoffs, but...
The next day was Cheusok (or Korean thanksgiving). We went to Birth Father's apartment, then to Children's Grand Park. Here's the group of us in front of the waterfall.
Here's my Dad, blending in quite well with his surroundings.
After a couple days enjoying the Seoul smog and congestion, Birth Father invited my parents to accompany him, Emily, and SangKwun to Jeju Island. Jeju Island is described as the Hawaii of Korea. Unfortunately, Mark and I had to work, so to say I was a little jealous is putting it mildly.
My mom shared these pictures -- I only heard about their experiences secondhand, so I can't really this as well as I'd like.
I like this picture of them enjoying paradise.
I do know that they took a 2 day bus tour, and did all sorts of things from going in an underwater submarine, watching a Chinese acrobatic show, taking nature walks, and horseback riding. Here are my mom and Birth Father all dressed up and ready to take a ride. This picture makes me laugh every time.
Here's the group again.
After Jeju, they flew to Busan. Mark and I took the KTX bullet train down there after work and met them. The weather was beautiful.
Busan is actually where Kevin lived before he joined us in America. We visited his orphanage and it was such an incredible, heart-wrenching experience. But that will have to be another separate blog post. Stay tuned.
The following week when we got back to Seoul (and after the mandatory 1 week quarantine away from the kids due to H1N1), my parents visited Poly.
They sat in on one of my classes and one of Mark's classes. To have two former teachers observing us was a little nerve-wrecking. :)
Then we stopped by my director, Nicole's, office so they could meet her and her husband. Then my Mom, always on the lookout for a photo op, requested a group picture. So here I am sitting awkwardly between my director and her husband.
Overall, I would say that my parents had a successful trip. They saw and did a lot, conquered the Seoul subway system, visited Kevin's orphanage, and got to know my birth brother better. The one thing they weren't overly wild about was the Korean food. There were some dishes they liked, but they thought a lot of it was too spicy.
My Dad did pretty well with the chop sticks, though!
Here we are, a final shot at the subway station.
Thanks for visiting, Mom and Dad! And if anyone else wants to come hang out with us in Seoul, just let us know! It's an open invitation!