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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dinner with our landlord's family!

I've had some really hospitable Korean experiences while living here, but today may have completely taken the cake!  See, I live in a small apartment complex (14 rooms), owned and managed by a family on the island.  Yesterday afternoon, I noticed this handwritten card sticking out of my mailbox, from them, written by their daughter! 

How awesome is that?!  I grabbed my iphone and immediately texted her that we would LOVE to come and have dinner with them.  Mind you, we had met our landlord ONCE in 2 years, when she came to help us fix our hot water last week, and she doesn't speak English!  But that doesn't matter in Korea!  Koreans are hospitable!  Turns out, she knew we wouldn't be with our families for today's holiday, and she felt bad and didn't want us to be all alone.  Ahhhh. So, we took a taxi over to their apartment complex...

...and were met in the parking lot by their youngest daughter Ye-rim (the one who wrote the note) who speaks English nearly perfectly, which is REALLY NOT COMMON in Busan!  She walked us up to their 2nd floor apartment where we were warmly welcomed by her mom, dad, grandmother (more on her later), her oldest sister, her sister's husband, and an uncle! They had laid out the most delicious spread of Korean food and were ready to eat right when we got there - YAY, cuz we were starving! 

I was so excited to have my very own bowl of bi bim bap at my place setting!

The guys quickly bonded with Aaron and were "gumbeh-ing" with their tiny bowls of rice wine!

About 45 minutes into the meal, Ye-rim (the daughter) and her dad jumped up and said, "We prepared a performance for you!" AAaawwweeee!  The dad (my landlord) told us he wants to be a "youtube sensation" like Psy and loves to sing in front of people, and Ye-rim went to college to study violin, so she's just plain amazing.  She lives in Seoul and has played for some of Korea's biggest Kpop stars, like BigBang, Kara, Tiara, and GDragon for their concerts!  The two of them were adorable together and EXTREMELY talented!  In between songs, she said to me, "This is so nice to have this type of moment together with my dad."  So sweet.

After their first song, we all clapped and cheered and my landlord said, "Self Encore" and we all laughed, because no one had asked for one, but he wanted to give one anyway!  haha We obliged, of course and he did 2 more songs for us.  I loved it!

These three girls were behind all of today's delicious food!  The mom on the left, and her husband, are our landlords.  Ye-rim is in the middle.  She's the youngest of three daughters (25 years old), and Ye-Jin is on the right and she's the oldest (31 years old)!  The 2 daughters speak English fluently, which was suuuuuch a fun treat!  There was no need to slow down our speech or choose easy words to explain stuff.  They understood EVERYTHING and were so nice!  We became instant friends!

Ye-Jin's husband is on the left.  His Korean name is really hard to say, even for Koreans, so he told us to call him Tommy.  And in case you were wondering what his hand gesture is all about, he told us, 
"I'm pointing to Aaron because he's THE MAN!"  haha  :)   

There were so many parts about our time with the Koo family that I loved, but I think the grandma was the highlight for me!  I was pretty sure she wasn't a fan of having 2 foreigners at her holiday family dinner when we first arrived, but after she realized that we could speak Korean, loved Korean food, and could use chopsticks, she was a big fan!  She kept saying that she thought I was so cute... which was exactly what I thought about her too!  She is feisty, sarcastic, adorable, healthy and super smart for an 82 year old Korean woman!  ... and in TRUE Korean fashion, she asked me 4 times why I didn't have a baby yet!   
The dessert was traditional Korean rice puffs and sliced pear, apple and oranges...

... and french tea made by Ye-rim!  Her older sister is actually living in Paris right now and sent them this French tea for tonight's dinner party. mmmm 

I love that there's a couch, but nobody sits on it!  I'll definitely miss the whole lounging on the floor thing!

Having Aaron and I over for dinner tonight was a big deal for their family, and they kept calling us their very special guests.  It was really sweet.  They really wanted us to meet the middle sister who's living in Paris, so we called her on "facetime" and talked for a while!  She was the first Korean I've ever talked to who spoke English fluently - completely fluently, like completely fluently!  I'm telling you, these 3 sisters are gems as far as I'm concerned! 

As if dinner, the performance, the awesome grandmother, the yummy French tea, and the great conversation wasn't enough, they even gave us a gift!!  They bought us a yunori set (a traditional Korean game), some Korean coasters and awesome Korean wood carved masks!  We were so overwhelmed with their kindness and hospitality!

After opening our present they asked if we'd like to take a drive to see the night scape!  Sure!  So, we piled into 2 cars and headed 30 minutes west toward Goeje Island.  Aaron and I rode with Tommy and Ye-Jin and had so much fun chatting with both of them.  The look out point was beautiful and our landlord took us to a famous bakery where he treated us to pastries, gelato and coffee!  I'm telling you, Koreans know how to be really great hosts... like really great!   

We're home now, 4 hours later, with full tummies and thankful hearts!  Thank you Koo Family!


  1. Hi Jill, i became facebook friends with Aaron and happened to visit your blog. You definitely are a blog addict :P ( as you mentioned on your self-introduction) to see this posting so quickly...hahaha. Looks like you and Aaron had a great time at my parents' place, such a shame that i couldn't make it. But you know, it's a small world, we may encounter somewhere in the world randomly. Thank you for the posting again and wish you all the best!! Take care and keep in touch.


    P.S. I love your pictures and it's so nice to see my family on your blog :)

    1. And lounging on the floor thing, i always make fun of my parents for that, saying 'you paid a fortune for that couch and you never sit on it!!' haha. Nice catch ;)

    2. Ariel, we definitely had a great time and it was fun to get the chance to meet you all the way over in Paris! Technology is AMAZING these days! :)

  2. What nice people!! And what fun!!


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  4. Wow, your landlord is awesome! It's rare to find that kind tenant-landlord relationship, especially for foreigners and natives which communication is hindered by language barriers. But these people are so different; you've only met your landlady twice and doesn't speak English, yet she invited over a holiday dinner? I wish all landladies are like her! =)