Happy (Korean) Thanksgiving

Wednesday, October 4th is Chuseok, the Korean harvest festival, a major national holiday scheduled according to the lunar calendar. The event has no strictly religious significance or affiliation, but is rather an ancient tradition of families gathering to welcome autumn by enjoying nature’s bounty, typical of any society that remains at least sentimentally attached to its agrarian, agricultural heritage.

For a North American immigrant in Korea like yours truly, Chuseok is inevitably intertwined in the imagination with Thanksgiving. And for an outsider who has lived in this perplexing, precarious, but proud little nation long enough to have planted a few tentative roots in its five-thousand-year-old soil, and formed some sincere friendships among its reflexively isolationist natives, the Western sense of “giving thanks” lingers in one’s thoughts during this moment of Korean traditionalism, the two impulses mingling to produce a grateful air of sentimentality about this nation and its charms — perhaps particularly intense this year, as Korea celebrates its heritage under the gravest awareness of existential threat that it has faced in decades.

I have had plenty to say about my adopted home in past writings, and will say plenty more in future writings. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then I have said much more about Korea without text, as most of the photographs featured on this website, including all the most beautiful images of nature, were taken here.

A few thousand more “words,” then, to give thanks for the benefits received during my life here. Happy Chuseok!

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