On Day 11, we busted out the couple-T’s.
We found them on sale at the Line Store for 10,000 won! We will probably never wear them (together) again besides this day, but it was still worth it! We were probably also in a particularly good mood that morning because we had been promoted from sleeping on the floor to sleeping on an actual bed with a real frame and mattress! Since 성배 Seong-bae was gone on his honeymoon, we were able to move into his room. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do! (Yes the bed was a full-size and we probably looked hilarious with Whitney smashed against the wall and Lee falling off the side, but we were just taking whatever we could get!)
We were able to spend a little more time with Jolie 언니 and meet for lunch in 서울 Seoul. Afterwards, we met with 아빠 Appa to visit the National Museum of Korea in 용산 Yongsan. The previous night he had asked us if we wanted to go together and we were excited because the whole place has Korean and English signage throughout. But, he got a work call while we were on our way and he only had time to drop us off 😦 We were really disappointed! We stayed and looked around for awhile (the place is really stunning and huge!) but we decided we’d rather just wait to do it another time when he can come with us.
Instead, we headed to Itaewon 이태원 to do some shopping. We don’t have many pictures (you probably know there is not much to take pictures of there…just a lot of Americans!) but Lee was able to snag a great deal on a Michael Jordan jersey, so we walked away happy.
That night, we had plans to meet with Whitney’s friend 현수 Hyun-su. They were friends from 천안 Cheonan who met while Whitney lived on the campus of 나사렛대학교 Korea Nazarene University in 2010 and 현수 Hyun-su was a student there. They actually got connected through Jolie 언니, who was 현수 Hyun-su‘s professor! They became fast friends and kept in contact even after Whitney left Korea. He was so ecstatic when Whitney and Lee met and married and couldn’t wait for the day he could meet Lee!
현수 Hyun-su left his very demanding job early and traveled an hour from 인천 Incheon to meet us for just two hours for a late 8pm dinner! He has the biggest heart. We caught up on life and he treated us to a delicious Korean-Chinese dinner. Yes, Korea has their own version of “Chinese” food, just like America does!
We were really touched when 현수 Hyun-su explained to us that he was so happy for our marriage and wished he could have been at our wedding. He asked us to please accept his belated gift, which, of course, was an envelope of cash. He had even exchanged it into US dollars! We wanted to cry, just because of his thoughtfulness. We explained that we would accept it just because we understood that important part of Korean culture but we couldn’t wait to pay it back to him on his happy wedding day!
We got home before anyone else so Lee set about on his “elf” ways and got busy setting up the Christmas tree he had purchased earlier for 엄마 Omma and 아빠 Appa. It was so neat to find the decorations on sale; as we mentioned before, this stuff didn’t exist in Korea five years ago! Lee insisted that 엄마 Omma and 아빠 Appa needed a tree for their home, even if it was a little Charlie Brown tree!
He finished just as we heard the door unlocking and 엄마 Omma came rushing in. She said, “What the heck is this?” Whitney explained that Lee really wanted them to have it and that he really loves Christmas. She said we “bought it well” and that it was really pretty.
We sent a picture of the tree to the rest of the family members and the boys said daebak 대박! “Awesome!” 아빠 Appa had added Whitney to the family group Kakao chat, where the five members discussed everything. 아빠 Appa and 성배 Seongbae used it to communicate about locksmith work. 엄마 Omma used it to ask Whitney, eodiya 어디야? “Where are you?” a hundred times a day and make plans to meet us for dinner. It was slightly obnoxious but also endearing. One time, Whitney asked 엄마 Omma why she didn’t just send individual messages instead of bothering 성배 Seong-bae on his honeymoon or 현배 Hyun-bae away at military. She answered in typical Korean fashion, 같이 gati, “Together is better.”
On Day 12, we headed out in search of the 밀레니엄 서울힐튼 Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel. Lee wanted to visit because he heard of their epic Christmas decor. We almost stroked out hiking a mountain to get there, but we were not disappointed.
The hotel features a huge, elaborate Christmas train, which is really something to behold. In addition to accepting monetary donations from patrons, each train car is sponsored by a company or organization, with that money going to charity. Each year there is a different charity or charities that receive the monies collected. We highly recommend this to families with children in the Seoul area next Christmas!
After the Hilton, we jumped on the subway to head to Holt Post Adoption Services before the day’s end. We had both been there before, and of course, this is where Whitney’s birth family reunion occurred 5 years previously!
We had been in contact in recent years with one of the social workers there. She would be the one to initiate Lee’s birth family search, should he ever decide to go that route. She is newer than five years, so she was not Whitney’s social worker who facilitated her reunion. However, they met several years ago at the same time Whitney met Molly Holt, and they kept in touch!
If any of you know Esther, she is a gem of a human. Truly one of the biggest hearts we have ever known. She has a lot of excellent experience, as an adoptee herself, and goes about her really complicated job like a champ. She absolutely loves her work and it shows. We caught up and discussed our time in Korea and talked about the complications of birth family reunion. You will be hearing more from her in the future here on our blog! We also had the opportunity to meet the President of Holt Korea Overseas Adoption Team.
We talked and talked until it was closing time and the offices were being locked up. We had dinner plans with 엄마 Omma so we got back on the subway to head towards the meeting spot. There is a buffet near our family’s home that Lee just loves, so we decided to eat there. 아빠 Appa got a break from work so he surprised us by showing up, too! We laughed hysterically as we found the things we loved, which 엄마 Omma/아빠 Appa thought were sick, and they found the nasty things that they preferred to eat. We gorged ourselves on everything you could imagine. 비빔밥 bibimbap, 갈비 galbi, 팥빙수 patbingsu, 호떡 hoddeok, 떡볶이 ddeokbokki. You name it; it was there! One of Whitney’s favorite foods that she’d never had before this trip was 까르보나라 떡볶이 carbonara ddeokbokki. Yep, just like the spaghetti carbonara but with those delicious rice cakes drowning in sauce. So scrumptious!
After we ate double our weight at the buffet, we headed towards E-mart. We wanted to pick up a few things to bring home with us, and 엄마 Omma/아빠 Appa needed to buy some coffee they were giving as a gift to their friend, for some reason which Whitney couldn’t understand. Gifts are huge in Korean culture, as we will discuss more in a later blog post.
엄마 Omma/아빠 Appa decided upon $80 worth of coffee to give to their friend! It was pretty absurd to see them cashing out. Hahaha. We found some treats of our own to carry home.
Once we got back to the house, we passed out. Serious food comas of the highest degree!
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