Monday, May 10, 2021

Month of May and Nostalgia for Family

Every Year on Parents Day, this year on Saturday, May 8th, he remembers May 8, 1979, the day he held his mother's hand tightly and thanked his parents for their love and kindness, and left home to continue his education in Seoul. The writer reminisces on the intervening years in the Peace Column of the Catholic Peace Weekly and on the film Minari.

That day he remembers taking the bumpy road from his house to the Expressway bus to Seoul. The view that opened outside his seat window was like what he saw on his black and white TV screen—an unknown new world, never seen before. People were living in high-rise apartment buildings lined up like square matchboxes, and no matter how much he leaned back, he couldn't even see the roof of the building. The most difficult thing in his new life was the mockery of his new friends: a country bumpkin with a dialect.

Human history itself is a soap opera of constant migration and anti-war feeling. Although born in the image of God, humans have different skin colors, different lifestyles, and different cultures. There are various reasons for the life of the migrant. Some have been forced to leave their hometowns due to war, natural disasters, and political persecution, and migrants heading to a "land of opportunity" at home and abroad with hopes of a better life.

The American film "Minari", in which Korean actors speak Korean, made the U.S., a country of immigrants, cry. A film about the joys and sorrows of a Korean family who chased the American dream to a farm in Arkansas in the 1980s. The actress who played the role of the grandmother was the first Korean actress to win the Best Supporting Actress award.

"Minari" is the true story of director Lee Isaac Chung's family. The grandmother, went to the U.S. from Korea to take care of her grandchildren for her daughter, a couple who started a farm. She brings a bag full of red pepper powder, anchovies, herbal medicine, and parsley seeds. The movie starts on the land (farm), the new home of the family, and ends on the land (minari field). At the beginning of the movie, the father tells his son: "It's the most fertile land in America," holding the soil in his hand. And in the last scene, he says this while looking at the  parsley planted by his grandmother: "Grandmother chose a very good place."

Like parsley, migrants can live well anywhere with tough vitality and adaptability, regardless of whether the land is fertile or barren. However, they are frustrated and fail because of the boundaries as strangers that can be seen but not easily crossed. It requires vigilance, because of discrimination, contempt, and ostracism for not recognizing each other's 'differences.

Back in history, we were all migrants or strangers and many will continue to live their lives in many places of the world as strangers. In the movie, the grandchild falls asleep in the arms of his grandmother, who avoided the grandmother because she smelled, and his heart disease got better. In a crisis of family dissolution due to a father chasing only money, the family becomes one, hugging each other, crying, even though the storage of crops was burned due to the grandmother's mistake.

Movement because of Covid-19 is restricted, but the number of people crossing borders continues to increase in search of jobs, safety, and a better future. But everyday life is becoming increasingly harsh with discrimination and ostracism. The weight of a weary and sad life weighs on the shoulders of many. 

This is the season when he misses the smell of the soil in his hometown and the scent of his mother's arms, terribly. In May, the Family Month and the month of Mary, the Lord asks us: Where is your family now? "I don't know. Am I the guardian of my family?" We know not to answer the Lord like this.

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