My name is Breda, and I lived in South Korea between 2009 and 2016. Shortly before I left the U.S., I discovered that my grandmother, Jayne, had visited the country in June 1979, when it was a very different place from today. She kept a scrapbook filled with photos and memorabilia, as well as written accounts of her trip and correspondence with friends she met there, which continued for a decade.

When I first looked at the album with my grandma, she was in her 90s and experiencing dementia, so she couldn’t remember much about the trip. She passed away in 2010, while I was living abroad.

For most of the time I knew my grandma, she was quite active, outgoing, and adventurous. She volunteered at the airport information desk, loved to ski, and traveled frequently, to faraway places like Russia and Nepal.

I’m sad I couldn’t spend more time with her toward the end of her life, or hear more about her travels firsthand, but I’m glad to be able to revisit both her and Korea by retracing the steps of one of her many exciting journeys.

Korea hanbok
Grandma, 63, and Mrs. Lee wearing hanbok, June 1979.


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