I stepped on Korean soil technically the nice, waxed floors of Incheon airport for the first time in eight years, after having gone to Australia at the age of seven with my mum and my brother. Or was this truly home? After all, I had lived more than half my life in Australia. Had Korea become a foreign country to me? Was I returning to Korea or just visiting it? Before I could savour this poetic moment however, a familiar face came into view. Wow, you were cute when you went, now you are uglier than ever! my uncle joked well I hoped he was joking and gave me and my brother a customary headlock. My aunt and mum decided to play the game of who can blurt out the most amount of gossip in the shortest amount of time during the walk to the car. During this walk however, I felt something immense hit me. At first I thought it was the icy wind teaching me a lesson for my stupidity I had shorts and a T-shirt on from the 35 degree (95 Fahrenheit) heat at Sydney airport but it was something else. I wanted to ask John my older brother if he had felt it but he was too busy from the barrage of cheeky questions from my uncle; girlfriends, alcohol experiences, partying etc I, not yet 18, was saved this torture however, and left alone to contemplate this thing.
At my grandparents apartment we were showered with hugs and kisses but I noticed significant aging in grandpa. Sure I had received his pictures via mail but to actually see the wrinkles, to notice the difficulty and the ponderousness of his steps was saddening. I was very close to my grandparents because I had lived with them when I was in Korea, and when I was young I often spent time with grandpa playing Go a board game consisting of black and white stones. However it was very late and after a very late dinner I went to bed.
Next morning I found the apartment empty; my aunt and uncle had gone back to their apartments last night, mum had gone to the station to pick up dad who was coming up from Pusan, John had gone to a friends apartment a few floors up and my grandparents had both gone out. Now that the thrill of being home had worn off, I was getting a little depressed; after all, I had no friends here. Armed with Eskimo-like clothing, I decided to go out for a walk to give me something to do. It had snowed heavily last night, making everything white. I went out to the main road and saw a legless beggar, dragging himself across the freezing snow begging for money. I saw an old woman much older than my grandma seated by the street, skinning garlic. I saw two men shouting at each other from their cars in the stagnant traffic because one of them refused to let the other in. Suddenly I wasnt so happy, I wasnt so proud to call this country home. On my way back to the apartment however I saw my grandpa coming back from the subway station. He was puffing hard and I asked him if he was alright. He looked at me with a sad smile and told me that he was succumbing to age. I helped him on the way back home and during that walk I felt that thing go away. This was my country whether I liked it or not; I had made myself a foreigner that I hadnt realised this. It was at this moment that I was truly happy to be in Korea. Yes, this was my home.