“We Feel the Love of Mother in Korea, Our Second Home”

“Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah delivered the words of encouragement, saying, “Welcome, our family members from abroad. I can guess how difficult it is for you to live in a foreign country, because many Korean people also went abroad to work two or three decades ago. Pick yourselves up though you have difficulties. There’s a Korean old saying about the time of Chuseok (which is Korean harvest festival and also called Hangawi): “No more or less, but just be like Hangawi.” It means that all is abundant at Hangawi. We have prepared songpyon a special rice cake for Chuseok, and other festive food for you. Enjoy the food and be healthy.”

Various festive foods including songpyon, (which is a rice cake filled with various fillings such as beans, chestnuts or sesame seeds and steamed with pine needles) were set on the table together with the members’ warm heart. Just as Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah called them “our family members from abroad,” there was a homelike atmosphere between foreign workers and the foundation members as if they had gathered in their home for a big traditional holiday.

A few days ahead of Chuseok, the International We Love U Foundation [IWF] held the “Party for the Foreign Workers in Korea to Share a Mother’s Love at Chuseok” at the Ansan Cultural Center (located in Sa-dong, Sangnok-gu, Ansan-si) on Sunday, September 16, 2007. The IWF had held the “Love Sharing Event, Greeting National Holiday” every year, whenever a Korean big holiday drew near, and this was the 11th event. About 80 foreign workers who live in Ansan, where Sihwa and Banwol industrial complex are located, attended the party and it was a big success.

The party started from 11 a.m. and consisted of sharing festival food, experiencing Korean traditional culture and games, and gift presenting. On the third floor of the Ansan Cultural Center, the families of foreign workers and the foundation members enjoyed festive food. At an affiliated traditional thatched cottage, and on the lawn, events for experiencing Korean traditional culture—trying on Hanbok and making songpyon—and traditional games such as Tuho (throwing sticks into a barrel), playing shuttlecock with the feet and taffy-breaking game were prepared. The foreign participants enjoyed them with excitement.

Foreigners, who live in a foreign country where language and culture are different from theirs, long for their hometown especially on a big national holiday such as New Year’s Day or harvest feast. Each country has their own harvest feast and people share love with their family members and strengthen their unity, so this party reminded the foreign workers from six countries—China, Vietnam, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia and Nigeria—of their country’s harvest feast and their home. They said that at the beginning they felt lonely and went through many difficulties in this unfamiliar country. They thanked the host, saying, “Now we feel a mother’s love as if we were in our own hometown with my family on a holiday. We’re very happy.”

The foreigners tried on Hanbok and practiced kneeling and bowing, saying, “Hanbok is very beautiful.” The IWF members took Polaroid of the families who wore Hanbok and it gave them special joy. Ralin, a Filipino mother of three children, had fun, wearing Hanbok for a bride. Tuya, a Mongolian woman, said that it was very interesting to experience Korean culture, being reminded of delightful memories during the Mongolian feast, Naadam. It was not only adults who were interested in Korean culture, but children also had a good time: a child bowed in Hanbok; a child was highly elated, holding an arrow for Tuho; and a kid had a mouthful of taffy or songpyon.

After experiencing traditional Korean culture, each foreign family received a gift from the members with their best wishes for a happy holiday. Foreign children received more special gifts. At the 9th New Life Family Walkathon held by IWF in the past April, the children of the foundation members donated their valuables for children who are in remote islands and overseas, and some of them were delivered to the foreign children this day. The children smiled happily, receiving new school supplies and nice dolls.

Jargal Saikhan, First Secretary of the Mogolian Embassy in Korea, attended the event with his family and thanked the IWF for holding the party to share a mother’s love with his people, saying, “I hope that you’ll keep spreading the source of family love, a mother’s love, to foreigners.”
A mother’s love and the love for neighbors opened our eyes to the true meaning of Chuseok in this deep autumn.