Day 4 – Friday, October 14, 2022 – Seoul; Grand Circle Foundation visit: Jusarang Community Church; Controversial Topic: South Korean Baby Boxes with Pastor Lee Dae Dong; Home-Hosted Lunch; North Korean Defector Discussion
After our breakfast we drove to the Jusarang Community Church, on the South side of the Han River. On the way Pam explained about the Confucian philosophy of family, husband, wife, and children. Never known to shy away from controversy, OAT provides travelers with opportunities to learn about issues that show each country in a nonbiased light.
The South Korean Baby Boxes is such a topic. Begun in 2009, Pastor Lee Jong-Rak provided the opportunity for mothers who could not care for their newborns. Pastor Lee offered a safe place for any child that came to their church. Now an assistant Pastor Lee Dae Dong, (not related to Lee Jong-Rak) greeted us outside of the church offices where the baby box is located.
Paster Lee explained the history of the nonprofit foundation and how women can bring their babies to the church and drop them off in the heated and monitored box for adoption. The mothers are provided counseling by licensed social workers who explain the options to each young woman.
After thanking Paster Lee, we were assigned to a Home-Hosted group with Val and Joe also from Colorado. We visited the home of Mrs. Lee on the 12th floor of one of the many high rises in Seoul. Mrs. Lee spoke almost no English but with the help of gestures and smiles we spent a pleasant 90 minutes and enjoyed a traditional meal called bibimbap.
Pam sent taxis to pick us up at 1:00 and then as an extra addition to our itinerary we were able to walk to the central fish market. Not only do they supply fish to restaurants around the city, local people can come there and buy fish that are alive or not and have them cooked in several cafes on the second floor. This spontaneous activity is an example of why we love the adventures that OAT provides.
Back at the hotel, we had an hour to look at photos and begin the journal. Then at 4:30 we met Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee, the founders of Freedom Speakers International. These activists are devoting their careers to empowering North Korean refugees. Our speaker was Yuma Jung who was a young daughter of a North Korean General.
She explained her experiences growing up under the influence of the Kim regime. After going to university, she was introduced to the philosophy of South Korea through a friend. Her ideas of freedom changed by observing the good life of the south.
Yuma stole money from her father and was able to buy her freedom. She paid a broker to help her escape from North Korea to China. With eleven other refugees, they escaped to Bangkok, Thailand and finally after four months, they were protected in South Korea.
Dinner was on our own tonight so we walked along one of the streets near our hotel and found a small shop selling sandwiches, that Pam called toasts. Back at the hotel we had time to finish reporting on our day.
Thank you again for reading of our daily adventures and especially for your comments and feedback.
Accommodations: Pacific Hotel -- Meals included: B, and L
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We covered a lot this day, hope many things from this day will remain in your heart for a long time.
Enjoying your journaling and it’s making me very excited for my trip there in April! You are paving the way for us, since Japan has been newly opened after covid!
You have had especially busy first days on your trip! You must be pretty exhausted. I’ll be on a South Korea pre trip to Mongolia in June. Steve and I were there in the 1990s so I probably won’t recognize anything. This will be a preview for me. Thanks for sharing.
Always love your posts and being able to learn about other countries through your travels. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post already!!
It was interesting to learn about the baby boxes. Did you find out what happens to the babies? Are they placed in an orphanage or adopted within South Korea or outside of it?
I’m a 9 time OAT traveler, found your web page years ago when reading reviews. I’m following your trip from your daily posts. I have been to SK several times as my son is stationed in the military, currently Daegu area. Thank you for your time and energy in journaling the trip, I’m reminiscing my own fond memories.
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All so interesting! Happy Birthday. Love to you!
Day 15 – Tuesday, October 25, 2022 – Return Flights to the USA
Our bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and we are trying to get back on Colorado body clock time. Our trip home was long but basically uneventful, always a good thing!...