[OP-ED] I Miss My Halmoni (Grandmother)

Danny Cho, March 4, 2016, 6 p.m.

“It doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you live righteously.” Those were the last words my halmoni (grandmother in Korean) said to me before she died. I was 14 when she passed away. She was my only real role model, but as time passed, memories of her started to fade. I do think about her here and there, but recently I’ve thought about her a lot. 

During this past Valentine’s weekend, I was reminded of a woman that I really loved, and that reminder came from the Korean shows, 'Human Condition Season 4' and 'My Grandmother'. 'Human Condition' is a program where Korean celebrities go to the countrysides of Korea to hang out with old people that live alone. Even though they are not related, the celebrities seem to grow attachment and even think about their own parents and grandparents while chilling with these old people. It genuinely makes me smile to see these old people have someone to talk to. The show makes me think about all the old folks that live alone in their own homes, but also in convalescent homes. I'm sure these people had families that they worked their asses off for, but now they're left alone because their kids are busy taking care of their own families.

Check out the first episode of 'The Human Condition Season 4':

The show 'My Grandmother' is a program where celebrities hang out with their own grandmothers. These old women have to create a bucket list and the celebrity grandkids have to help halmoni achieve some of those bucket list items. It’s a new show on tvN and phew, the first episode made me think about my halmoni a lot. The show stars comedian Park Narae and Lee Tae Im. Park Narae is slowly becoming one of the most popular female comedians in Korea, and Lee Tae Im is pretty damn sexy hot. Not gonna lie to you guys, I teared up watching the first episode - but they were manly tears, I swear!

I’m pretty sure it's universal that our grandmothers really loved us. Hell, I loved my halmoni so much, I’d hide in her house so my parents would just leave me there instead of taking me back home. My halmoni was a strong woman. She moved her whole family (10 people) to the South when the Korean War broke out. She sold rice cakes on the street and supported her 8 kids, sending a handful of them to college. Her story was not different from a lot of families of that era. As a child, I saw her break up a fight between two homeless dudes just because it happened in front of her. She is the only person I consider to be my role model, and everyday I know I don’t even come close to the person she was.

These shows made me realize how much I miss my halmoni. Every now and again I see her in my dreams, and she’s just sitting there smiling at me. I wake up thinking, "Halmoni still got my back." Unfortunately, those dreams come very rarely these days, and the realization that I haven’t gone to her gravesite in quite some time makes me feel like a crappy grandson. Damn, I miss my halmoni

I was shocked to hear that some people don’t feel that way about their grandparents. The last time I was in Korea, I heard about a situation where families would just drop off their senile grandparents in the middle of nowhere. It’s tragic to see some of these old people in the middle of the street, while people just walk past them as if they were diseased. It totally broke me when I saw some of these people with my own eyes.

Aww! Bboing Bboing..

So for all those that are fortunate to have your grandparents still around, give 'em call. Visit more often, and be good to them. They gave everything they had for you and your parents. Plus, they don’t have much time. So, spend some time with them before it's too late. I remember my mom telling me that the worst feeling is knowing she could have been a better daughter, but it was too late. Don’t make that mistake, and go give your halmoni a hug. 

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