After visiting grandfather’s grave, I went to do some sightseeing at Seoul, focusing on Seoul’s downtown. I spent two days doing so. It was enjoyable because it helped to strengthen my emotional ties to the homeland. I didn’t rediscover myself as a patriot, but I got to remember again where I was born and spent sixteen years before moving to Canada.
The most touching moment was when I took a photo in front of King Sejong Statue at Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul. I felt the passage of time so powerfully. King Sejong, called the Great King by South Koreans for inventing Korean Alphabet in 1443, welcomed me. The statue, although it became a landmark when it was erected in 2009, had not been there when I left South Korea in 2002. It was a symbol of my homeland and I recognized it for what it was though I had never seen it before. It felt good to renew my connection with South Korea after a long absence.
After visiting the Chinatown, my grandfather’s tomb, and Seoul’s downtown, I returned to grandmother’s home to recuperate for the remaining days. I needed to recover quickly for I would have a busy holiday schedule once I returned to Canada. I spent next three days with my extended family talking about my grandfather’s last days.
Spending time with my cousins on November 27 strengthened our connection as a family. I felt that I belonged with them. It was so good to see how much we all had grown up. My younger cousins, my uncle’s son and daughter, had become a man and woman. This reinforced sense of belonging to my family was my final reward for completing the trip despite being ill.
My trip to South Korea was a difficult because of that nasty cold, but seeing my extended family and motherland again after more than a decade was an invaluable. In the end, I had done all I set out to do in just 3 days. I recovered from the cold by December 6, more than a full week after my return to Vancouver. Perhaps I will return to South Korea for a second trip full of sightseeing and fun, but by my estimation that will be a few years after this one.
What I have learned from this short and emotionally powerful trip is that an unexpected turn of events can interfere with your trip no matter how much you prepare for and look forward to it. All you can do is to make the best of your circumstances and enjoy the trip.