Sunday, March 21, 2010


Mark and I received an email letting us know we've officially been accepted into Sogang University's Korean Language Education Center (KLEC). All we have to do is transfer the tuition payment... and take a level test with an instructor. They say that the phone interview will be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. But at my current level I'm guessing it won't take more than a minute. I know how to say hello, my name, where I'm from, then I've got nothing...

We'll start classes June 3rd -- I'm so excited!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

At last... BOOKED!

We've gotten a LOT of questions about when exactly we're returning home. If you're one of those people losing sleep over this, you can rest your mind. :o) We picked up our tickets from our boss (one of the perks of finishing your teaching contract -- tickets home) today. We can happily report that the tickets are booked and we will be returning to the States on none other than Easter Sunday.

We'll depart April 4th at 10:20 from Korea... have two layovers in Tokyo and Los Angeles... and then arrive in St. Louis many hours later (though the time change makes it look like it isn't!) on April 4th at 5:15 p.m.

Can't wait to see everyone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Memories from the Last Year

I think Mark did a great job pulling some of our favorite pictures into this slide show. Wow, what a year it's been!

Just a warning -- it's 10 minutes long, so make sure you're comfy when you start it up. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Plan B

When Mark and I set off on this adventure, we told everyone back home that we would teach English for one year, come home, and everything would be back to normal.

Somehow between then and here things have changed a bit...

Being here, I've accomplished some of the things I've wanted to do. I met my birth father, mother, and brother, learned a little about Korean culture, become OBSESSED with the food, and even survived a year as a teacher. BUT, there is a big hole in what I've done and what I want to do. Most importantly, before I come back to America permanently, I feel that I HAVE to learn Korean. And while the Rosetta Stone is nice, it's just not cutting it.

It is literally killing me to have my entire birth family in my life and not to be able to understand or speak to them. It all really bubbled to the surface when I met my birth mother. She was looking me in the eye, speaking to me, and all I could do was stare blankly back at her. Worst feeling ever.

Mark has told me that he understands I'm on a journey and he'll just follow my lead. (Did I seriously win the husband lottery or what!) I found a Korean language program at Sogang University that seems to be exactly what I'm looking for. The focus is speaking and it is supposed to be the best at getting students speaking quickly.

Today, Mark and I went to Sogang and applied. The whole process sounds pretty painless and if all goes well, we can start classes on June 3rd. We will be attending Korean classes from 9-1 Monday through Friday. Two of those hours are devoted to speaking, one hour is listening and reading, and one hour is writing. We're going to start with a 3 month semester and decide from there if we want to continue.

SOOOO, long story short, we ARE coming home at the beginning of April... but for a visit instead of for good. We'll stay around for about a month and a half and then head back to Korea to try to learn some Korean.

I'm pretty excited about the future and for the first conversation I can hold with my birth parents. Cross your fingers that all goes well and we'll see everyone in St. Louis SOON!

::image courtesy of Genomics Law Report::

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kevin and Alicia in Korea

Well, after a snowy moving day (ugh... maybe Seoul didn't get the memo, but March means NO more snow!), Mark and I are moved out of Guro and into Birth Father's apartment. So that means I have time to post about Kevin and Alicia's trip to Korea.

I'm so glad that they decided to make the trek over here... I wasn't sure if they would be able to make it, when Kevin surprised us with news that he had booked tickets in December. I was very excited to say the least.

Anyway, Kevin and Lysh spent a total of 8 days in Korea and we really jammed a lot into those short days. Here's a rundown of some of the highlights.

As with all our visitors, we took them to Noryanjin Fish Market for some crab legs, shrimp, and scallops.

SangKwun came with us that night and he and Kevin hit it off like they were old friends. Here I am with my two brothers. :)


Kevin was in heaven with the seafood, but when we got this tray of sashimi, he wasn't so impressed.

Sashimi Tray

We convinced him that this was his opportunity to try it, so he took a bite and his face says it all.

Post Sashimi

Ah well... besides the sashimi and the kimchi, he seemed to like almost everything else he tried. I was actually very impressed with how open he and Lysh were in trying and experiencing everything. Their positive attitudes made them very fun visitors to show this country to!

After Noryanjin, we went to a noraebang (private karaoke room). There was lots of singing, dancing, and tambourine playing.

The weather cooperated a few of the days (unfortunately, there were some rainy days). On one of the days, we took them to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Here are some of my favorite shots of them there.


Kevin looks a little nervous by this guard, don't you think?

Gyeongbokung Palace

And here they are passing through the pathway of eternal youth. It says if you pass under this, you will never grow old! Here's hoping...

Eternal Youth

Another touristy thing we did was climb to the top of Namsan (Seoul) Tower. It's on the top of the mountain and there are stairs leading to the top. It took us about 30 minutes to conquer it!

Namsan climbed

The climb was well-worth it because we got views of Seoul like this....


Birth Father also took us to a Traditional Korean Folk Village in Suwon. It was about an hour drive outside of Seoul, but very neat to visit. Just seeing the ancient history of this country is fascinating. There are carvings and statues like this throughout.

Korean statues

And everyone in the village is dressed in traditional garb and performing tasks that the people of the time might have been working on. Here's a shot of an older man tending to a garden.


We even caught a performance... there was some major coordination to keep the tassels spinning while dancing and jumping the entire time!



There were also displays of ancient Korean jails and punishments. Let me tell you, if I lived back then, I would never, ever, break a single rule! Not surprisingly, Kevin and Mark managed to land in jail...


Then Mark found himself in ancient Korean handcuffs. Yeah -- they had their heads wedged into a plank so they couldn't run off.

Korean Handcuffs

And then Mark decided to try out some of the ancient torture on Kevin.


Luckily, he stopped short of the leg screws. This was one of the worst things I've ever seen -- they would twist the leg of the criminal until they would confess their crimes.

Leg screw torture

Birth Father also convinced Kevin and Lysh to try on some traditional Korean clothing (hanboks) for a photo op. I think they look pretty authentic!


Traditional outfits


Afterwards, Birth Father took us to a traditional tofu restaurant with tons of vegetable sides.

Tofu Restaurant

There were many other things we did and saw during their visit, but we also went to Busan -- Kevin's hometown. It's such a cool city, right on the beach. The first night we were there, there was a big bonfire on the beach.

Beach Bonfire

We also visited the Busan Aquarium. It was really cool to see all the sea life up close.



Also, since we were SO close to the ocean, we had to visit the Busan fish market. This market backed right up to the ocean. Can't get much fresher than that!

Fish Market

We treated ourselves to a lobster lunch there. Here's the big guy right out of the aquarium.

Huge Lobster

And here is is bright red and cooked. YUM!


The most important part of the trip to Busan (and in general) was probably visiting the Sung Ae Won Orphanage with Kevin. This was where he spent the first 5 years of his life.

Here he is in front!

Sung Ae Won

And here he is playing with the kids. I think he and Lysh found one or two that they wanted to adopt right then and there! I know the feeling...


All in all, it was a great visit. Kevin and Lysh really seemed to enjoy seeing the country Kevin was born in, and I think this'll be the first of many visits in the future for them!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Moving Day!

Ahhh... seems like just yesterday we were packing and moving out of our little house on Sunshine to come to Korea. And today, we've finished our teaching contract and are moving out of our cute little Guro Digital Complex apartment and back to Janhanpyeong for the next few weeks. Big steps, people. Big steps!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alicia onstage at NANTA

Last night was Kevin and Alicia's last night in Seoul so we decided to go see NANTA. This was actually the second time Kim and I have seen the show. We saw it once before when my parents were visiting. Anyway, Alicia was pulled up on stage and we were able to get some of it on video before I got yelled at by the ushers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I haven't mentioned this on my blog yet, but my brother, Kevin, and his wife, Alicia, are visiting us in Korea right now. It's been so great, and we're having a blast. I plan to do another post with pictures of things we've done, places we've gone, and food we've eaten. Stay tuned.

Anyway, the point of this post is that today we visited Sung Ae Won Orphanage in Busan, where Kevin spent the first 5 years of his life. We visited the orphanage before and I blogged about it here. Once again, it was an amazing experience for me. I'm not going to go into too many details of this visit because I feel that it's Kevin's story to tell if he chooses.

Anyway, while we were chatting with the orphanage worker, Chris, and the Chairman of the Board, we noticed a poem on the table. It's so touching and resonates with me, especially in light of my recent reunion with my birth mother and my mom's support through all of it. Love it!!! Hope you enjoy it too.

Legacy of an Adopted Child
- author unknown -

Once there were two women
who never knew each other
One you do not remember
The other you call mother.

Two different lives shaped to make yours one
One became your guiding star
The other became your sun.

The first gave you life
And the second taught you to live in it
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality
The other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent
The other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions
The other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile
The other dried your tears.

One gave you up -- it was all that she could do,
The other prayed for a child,
And God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me through your tears,
The age old questions through the years:
Heredity or Environment - which are you the product of?
Neither my darling - neither
Just two different kinds of love.