I’m sitting at my desk, trying to write this post, but I keep getting distracted.
First, there’s the restlessness I can’t seem to shake off. I’ve been graduated and out of school for about a month now and despite the ample time I may seem to have, in reality, there never seems to be enough time on any given day. Without the once perpetual schedule of deadlines and due dates ascribed to assignments, projects, and papers that used to govern my somewhat tighter itinerary, I seem to have unhinged myself and seamlessly fallen into a state of lazy confusion.

Then, there’s the noise. From my desk next to the window, I can hear everything beyond the rustling leaves and chirping birds. Cars are zooming past and repeatedly driving over what I presume to be is the same manhole, ending in the same reverberant clunk clunk. The occasional vehicle rambles along to the deep, rich bass tones of its subwoofer, only leaving a familiar but unwelcomed beat stuck in my restless head.

But most of all, there’s the longing. On my screen is a collection of images from my recent trip to Korea. Clicking through them, I see a string of blurry photos that inadequately try to capture the breathtaking city I grew up in, a city I once called home.
But now, I’m blogging from my home in Hawaii where a 15-minute car ride is deemed “far,” 2 a.m. is considered “time to go home,” and all of the island’s lights during Christmas combined could never come close to the way Seoul illuminates on any given evening, every single night of the year.
And then, of course, there’s the food. Oh. my. goodness. The food.
The food alone is enough to make you want to pack up what you can cram into one suitcase and transplant yourself over there. Permanently.

My first night there upon landing, excited beyond jet lag, I bought kimbap at the airport’s 7-11 convenient store. It wasn’t anything spectacular, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it only cost a dollar. But to me, it was simply my first taste of being home.

The funny thing is, even though I’m Korean and was born and partially raised in Korea, some things still feel a little new to me. During my 6 year absence from living in the city and my 4 years apart from my family, a little and a lot has changed. My baby sister, who for as long as I can remember was always a head or so shorter than I was, has rapidly grown into somewhat of a giant (a beautiful one, mind you) that is not only much taller than I am, but also perhaps much stronger. My parents, on the other hand, haven’t aged one bit. My hero of a dad is just the way I remember him: strong, playful, and wise beyond his own matured years. And my mom, just as brilliantly stunning as she always has been, both in spirit and in appearance.

Even Seoul, with or without its swift renovations, has managed to retain all its splendor  –  the rich history, the bustling crowds, the needle-like winds, the plethora of street food, the hazy grey skies, and everything else that makes me love and fall in love with the city, over and over again.

But, in all the magnificence and splendor that is the home of my past, it’s these distinctions – nuances, even – that inspire me to look forward into this new year while awakening me to also appreciate the here and now, where I am, my home away from home.




  1. malia

    lazy state of confusion indeed…i totally relate to that first paragraph! lol seeing you blog inspires me to wanna write again…i also kinda miss the papers and the set schedule that school provides…now what to do with our life?well travel for one thing! maybe you will go to new york like you really wanna? =) anyways sounds like u had a great time in korea and i can’t wait to hear about it today!!! yay!

  2. monica

    aww haein! you don’t plan on moving there for work? it must be hard to be away from fam so long 🙁
    i’m actually moving back to hawaii ~_~ gah we need to catch up!
    and that’s myeongdong right? I was in Seoul a couple months ago. I MISS IT!!! it’s so cheap there, i swear.

  3. Jessica

    We have such similar feelings about Korea. Every time I go, I’m in awe of how much and how little has changed at the same time. Whenever I’m there I feel like time stands still and my life is on hold. Whether that’s a good thing or not, it’s always good to know that there’s someplace that I can go to feel a little escape.

  4. Haein

    Malia – thank you!!! The banner was helped made by Hide. It was good finally catching up and having some QT!
    Monica – No, I wish I could live there for work but unfortunately that’s not the case. When are you coming back from Japan? We definitely need to hang out and perhaps cook (or eat) together!
    Patrick – thank you for the encouragement!
    Hide – thank you for accompanying me on the trip!
    Jessica – I know what you meant. It definitely is some sort of escape, despite its fast-paced nature.

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