Happy Journey to the Motherland
The welcoming ceremony for Happy Journey participants took place at HCS's auditorium on October 17 last 2018. They felt a little awkward first but soon they interacted with each other and talked about how they feel to be in Korea. Their expectations for the visit varied from deeper understanding of Korea which they only vaguely knew and experiencing Korean culture quite different from their own to looking for adoption records and uniting with their biological family. Their first visit in Korea was Holt Ilsan Center, where Chairperson Molly Holt told them about how the history of Korean adoption began. The visit at the center particularly meant something special for the eldest participant Janet, as she met again Honorary Director Cho, Byeongguk of HCS’s affiliated health clinic who examined her before she was adopted.
The theme of Happy Journey this year was 'Past & Present of Korea.' The participants experienced Korean culture and tradition, visiting the Folk Village and Changdeokgung Palace, touring Insa-dong, making kimchi and playing traditional Korean music. We could see by their hands tightly gripping the janggu sticks that they were really serious about these experiences. A participant was so attracted to Huimori beat that he wanted to get a janggu. Looking for everywhere at Insa-dong, though, he could not find one. They were also amazed by the Namsan Tower, the symbol of Seoul, as well as the glorious Seoul landscape spread out in front of them at the observatory of the 120-story Lotte World Tower. They also became more intimate with Korea while they enjoyed shopping and dining at Hongdae area popular with young people for its
vibrant trendy culture.
The participants made tamps(Dojang) with their Korean names carved, which they have barely used and even have problems pronouncing them. We could see their affection for and interest in Hangeul when they seriously and carefully carved their Korean names and pronounced them. The stamps would be the one and only memento for them. We had special touching moments when Sofie who had been adopted to a Belgian family united with her biological family. Six of her family never hesitated to come all the way from afar with packages of gifts for Sofie. Sofie told us that she could feel the true love of Korean family.
In retrospect, the nine days went by so fast. All of us were sad to part ways, not only the participants and their partners but also all the HCS staff who prepared Happy Journey. Our eyes were filled with tears when the youngest participant from Norway burst into tears while presenting her last words. We hope that this visit would be always a happy journey in their memories and that Korea which used to be strange and unreal place would be their homeland.