From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."


사랑합니다, Omonim… Abonim.

This morning, I was awakened by the clinking of chopsticks and my parents-in-law’s conversation over breakfast. If it had been an ordinary day, I would have hit the hay again, but today is Parent’s Day and I had to get up to greet them. I set the alarm at 7 before going to bed last night, because that’s the time my in-laws usually wake up, but they got up pretty early. It was a few minutes past 6 when I heard them in the dining room. I woke up my husband who was snoring louder than a lawnmower, hastened to change, washed my face and brushed my teeth. By the time, I was done, my father-in-law had already put on his jacket and was heading out for work. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, was tidying up the dining table. I greeted them good morning. They were probably wondering why I was up so early. I told them that I was going to the hospital which was actually true, but the real reason why I was scurrying out of the bedroom was because I wanted to be the first to pin carnation boutonnieres on their shirts. The tradition of giving carnations during Parents’ Day in Korea typifies respect and gratitude for parents.


At school, students make paper carnations and cards to give to their parents. A day before the occasion, you can already find carnation bouquets being sold on the streets or in various shops and convenience stores. Bakeries sell cakes in the semblance of a carnation like this lovely ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins:


Cosmetic shops and department stores display Parents’ Day gift sets. Restaurants offer promos. Parents are usually given lavish presents or money, treated to dinner or pampered in the salon. On our way to the hospital, most of the big restaurants we passed by were full. In the department store, we saw a couple of parents and their adult children shopping together. I suddenly remembered my Mom. How I miss her. On Mothers’ Day, I take her shopping, too.

May 8 was originally Mother’s Day in Korea, but after some time, it became Parents’ Day (어버이 날 ). The occasion was altered, so fathers can also be recognized and thanked.

Tonight, my in-laws are going to have dinner with the family. My husband and I won’t be there, because we have to go to work, but I’m glad that we were the first to greet them today and tell them that we appreciate everything they have done for us. I rarely tell my parents-in-law that I love them, though I really do. When I told them “사랑합니다, 어머님… 아버님” (I love you, Omonim… Abonim.) as I hugged them this morning, their face lit up. My parents-in-law and I have lived together for four years, and though our relationship is not near to perfect, I believe that we have learned to truly appreciate one another. They care about me like parents to a daughter and I am grateful for their love. I may not be an outstanding 며느리 (daughter-in-law), but I try my best to show them that I also care about them the way a daughter cares for her parents.



A Letter to Daddy (on Father’s Day)

Dear Daddy,
daddyI remember when I was young, you sat me on your lap, and you said that someday I will meet somebody I will fall in love with. It doesn’t matter whether or not he is rich or handsome or has a degree… as long as he is a good man and he will love and respect me; make me happy and won’t hurt me.

Daddy, I married that man. I love him and he loves me dearly. We respect each other despite our differences. We laugh and cry together, but most of our days are filled with laughter. He makes me happy and takes good care of me. I care about him a lot, so I try to be the good wife Mommy was to you.

Sometimes I tell him, he reminds me of you… when he rubs my tummy every time it hurts… when he tucks me in and sings to me when I can’t sleep… when he tells me a cheesy joke… when he lectures me about something without raising his voice or sounding authoritarian.


You have never met him, but I’m sure you would have liked him if you did… and he would have liked you, too.

Thank you for that day you sat me on your lap and told me one of the most important lessons on “finding true love”. Though you couldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, at least I know that the man I married is the kind of man you want me to spend the rest of my life with… so don’t you worry about your baby girl. I’m happy, Daddy. You will always see me smile. =)

I love you and I often remember you and everything you have taught me.

Much love from your daughter who misses you,