Day 4- Visiting My Mother's Hometown

Trip Start Aug 23, 2009
Trip End May 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
My Uncle's Friends House on Haeudio

Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Jeolla,
Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arriving to my mothers home town. Hiedu is most famous because, about three miles down the road from were my mother was born, the ex president of South Korea was born. It is a small farming village were most people make a living from their sea salt farms and sea weed farms. My mother’s family owned quite a bit of land and ran a seaweed farm business. My mother never talked about growing up and after seeing and meeting the people there I still didn’t understand why. Of course the housing was sub par and there seemed like there was not much to do, but the people were very friendly and seemed very happy. My mother hasn’t been back home for over 30 years and it seemed no one recognized her but as soon as she said the nick name that she went by everyone’s face lit up. Gok-Cooni meaning “hello” was the her name. And everyone couldn’t believe it was her. Once the word spread all I could her was Gok-Coon…Gok-Cooni, AHHHHHHHHHI Ahhhi. She seemed very popular and crowds gathered to see how she was. I was proud to be the son of Gok-Coon.

Soon after we arrived we went and visited my grandfathers’ grave. In Korea there are typical graves with a head stone but you will also come across a lot of small mounds that are covered with grass. These small mounds are gravesites. My grandfather had two wives at the same time and so him and his deceased wife each had their own mound along with my uncles near by. My grandmother who is still alive will probably be buried next to them. It is tradition to pour alcohol on their gravesite and leave fresh fruit by there side. So we left grapes, peaches, pears and poured soju (similar to saki) for them to enjoy.

After visiting Hiedu, I started to notice few things. First, there were practically no young people. I asked why and my mother says everyone leaves because there is no opportunity there. Second, the island was filled with women and very few men. My uncle says because all the men have died due to hard work. Third, everyone had very straight teeth. My brother and I both have never had to get braces and I have always been thankful of this. I now know where that gene came from. And fourth, it is normal for restaurants in Korea to specialize in one thing and only serve that one thing. We just so happen to go to a restaurant were they only served squid.

Eating moving squid. We grabbed them out of the tank, chopped them up into small pieces, poured sesame seed oil and seeds on top and gobbled them up before their nerves stopped moving. I remember seeing this as a child the last time I came here so I was excited to give it a try. I grabbed a piece with my fingers due to the lack of my chopstick skills and the fact that they were sticking to the plate. So with my hands I dipped it into some hot sauce and bottomed up. My mother said to chew it or they would stick to your throat. I put one in my mouth and before I bit down it stuck to the my roof of my mouth. I chomped down and swallowed. To my surprise it was pretty good. I actually had a few more bites.

Later on my mother called me over to a street vendor selling silk worms. These little creatures were as ugly as you could imagine and tasted like shit. To be more descriptive I would say salty, stinky, liver. What was crazy was my little Korean cousin gobbled them up, and loved every moment of it. I am glad I tried it but will probably never eat one again in my life.
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