life in korea

South Korea’s Halmonis

I saw this old South Korean woman gathering edible plants in Namsangol Hanok Village last Sunday.

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an old woman gathering edible plant inside the Namsangol Hanok Village

 

This was a random shot… but it immediately brought back to mind what I have always thought about South Korea’s older generation. This is the generation that drove South Korea to its economic progress. This is the generation that endured poverty, rose above it and pushed their young ones to work even harder. This is the generation that knew what it was to struggle between communism (courtesy of the North) and military rule which gradually turned into a liberal democracy (South). This is the generation whose families are divided by the 38th parallel – that military demarcation line disallowing unity of families (never mind the nation).

My respect goes to this generation.

 

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random shot taken at Namsangol Hanok Village

The current generation is enjoying the fruits of this older generation’s labor. Their women settled with whatever was available and made something out of it – may it be food, clothing, infrastructure. This is not an isolated picture. There are times I still see old people gathering plants around, may it be in the park or along the Han River. Admirable.

I loved looking at these two. I discreetly stole a moment from them.

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What kind of strength and discipline and willpower does this generation possess to be able to have achieved the status that South Korea is now enjoying?

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8 thoughts on “South Korea’s Halmonis

  1. I completely agree with you. It is very thoughtful of you to dedicate a photo to a generation that I think we often easily forget about. As a foreigner, I often get VERY frustrated with the older generation, because they can often be very pushy, crass and blunt about many things. However, I have to stop and recognize that this country has changed SO MUCH in their lives and it’s a wonder that they’ve managed to catch up to it even a little bit. Respect for the halmonis!
    Meg Wray recently posted..Lessons I’ve Learned from LivingMy Profile

  2. This is a touching post and focus on a truly valuable generation to the Korea that we know today. I admire people from the older generations and sometimes get frustrated with the younger folks, because you’re right. The former actually knows what it’s like to go without something and I rarely see a younger person abstaining without making a fuss about it.

    I loved that all this came from one shot of yours, though you mention there are scenes like this happening everyday. Thanks for sharing this, Wendy.
    Duke Stewart recently posted..Korea, Gwangyang – The ValleyMy Profile

  3. It absolutely blew my mind when I got to Korea for the first time and saw how developed it was. My grandfather had been stationed in Korea during the war, and had painted an entirely different view of the country. To have come so far so quickly, it’s amazing. That generation transformed the future of South Korea.

    I love the series of pictures you’ve presented, especially the last one showing the younger woman talking with the elderly lady. Hopefully the hard work and sacrifices of the older generation will be remembered.
    Nathan Anderson recently posted..Courting Death in CanyonlandsMy Profile

  4. I always think about that too. When I’m walking the streets of Korea and see an old, hunched over granny, I think that her back hurts because of what she did for this country. I think the younger generation don’t really know what these old women have done to help shape and change Korea. These are the women that made sure the country ate, by growing and harvesting rice, which ultimately permanently damaged their backs,

  5. I thing the younger generation takes a lot for granted. I have to remind myself that what we have now is due to the hard work and dedication of the those that came before us. Literally, living off the land comes to mind when I read this post. It makes me appreciate what I have now.

    We use to have a vegetable garden when I lived in the US, but living in a high rise apartment doesn’t allow us to grow our own food. I’ll have to pay closer attention the next time we go out on a hike.

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