Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trip to Los Angeles (April 2014)

Kristin and I first settled in Los Angeles. We lived in LA and its vicinity for 14 years. So it is the home town for us in the U.S.

We have friends who served Jesus together at churches. They are now all veterans in their fields. They are stable and look forward to their retirement.

Also, I have many colleagues who still live in greater LA.

Los Angeles is nicknamed "The city on the wheel." Its area is vast and you cannot move around without a car. We normally rent a car. April is a good month to enjoy the sunny and bright weather without too much heat. Clear days with blue sky are typical of Los Angeles during the winter and early spring. It is one of the reasons why people are coming to Los Angeles, thus driving up the home prices. That is despite the earthquake threats. Ha... a side effect.
Small rent car is just fine with me...

Because the sky was blue...

Scenery was just gorgeous...

Our home away from home: The Song's in the beautiful Rancho Palos Verdes... The Sung Hoon and Mindy Song were my fellow teachers at OMC High School Department. Mindy is a Chemist and Sung Hoon is an engineer. Both are people of God with passionate heart to serve the Lord. They are kind enough to invite us to stay at their home every time we visit Los Angeles. They are lovely and godly people to whom I feel indebted deeply.
With Mr. and Mrs. Song

Beautiful and delicious dinner...

Ocean view from their home... ahhh

Cliff nearby their home

Beautiful sunset...

Hiking trail...

Wonderful dinner with the Lims and the Songs at Yong Gung... Along with the Songs, Kristin has been close friend to Mrs. Lim. She is a nurse also and the wife of Rev. Sung Jin Lim who is Vice President of World Mission University and Seminary. He has been serving there for the past 30 years or so. Their children are of age similar to our children so there is deeper connection. They treated us at Yong Gung, a famous Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. I attempted to pay for the dinner, but he has somehow persuaded the waiting staff not to accept my credit card. I failed. But the foods and our fellowship were fabulous. We are grateful!
Rev. Lim, Mr. Song, Mrs. Song, Kristin and Mrs. Lim

Men only... we also served at the same choir at OMC...

Now me included...
Ladies only...
Visiting Hana Financial and seeing former CCB colleagues at Yong Su San...  I started Hana Financial as Senior Vice President with Charles Kim, now deceased, and Sunnie, now CEO. Both were my bosses at CCB. Hana was the first Korean American finance company that targeted to serve the garment manufacturer and textile companies through factoring and other related financial services. It was great joy to see Hana now thriving as the largest finance company in the West Coast with significant diversification in business lines. A former CCB colleague Young Shim is now EVP. So the joy was even greater. We went to have dinner together at Yong Su San. Surprise! There were several former CCB colleagues who all are now active senior officers at other banks or finance company. Bonnie, Linda, Hannah, Dongho, Jack were there. What a time we had together long time ago at CCB although it ended with a painful separation due to the conflict between Charles Kim and the board. 16 people were let go, including myself. Now all history and memory. Unfortunately, I do not have any photo of the colleagues.
With Sunnie, seated, and Young...

Charles, Sunnie, John and Carl... all deceased except Sunnie

I cannot position it right, but 23 years before...

Lunch with John Lim, another former OMC Senior High Department teacher... John is a lawyer by profession. But he is a son of Rev. Dong Sun Lim who is the founder of OMC. He is 90 years old and he is still strong and keeps going. John was also a colleague at OMC Senior High School Department, teaching the youth together. His heart is into microfinance and it is another connecting point between us. His law practice has been thriving also. Probably it is the largest law firm that is owned and managed by a Korean American although there are other non-Korean partners. He is preparing to serve the Lord more directly after his tenure with the law practice is subsiding. We shared common views on many issues. Great lunch at Morton's, an expensive steakhouse. but the lunch price was still reasonable.

Seeing Pastor Minsong Ahn and his wife Shin Ahn... preaching at His Church... Pastor Ahn was Senior Pastor at Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Denver. I was ordained as Elder at this church. We ministered together for three years. Also, he was Senior Pastor at New York Presbyterian Church in New York where I was working. I attended this church briefly. So our relationship dates back quite a bit.

His Church is housed at Come Mission, a mission sending agency. Come Mission was established on the basis of Matthew 24:14, the same verse used for establishing Project BGAN. The founder of Come Mission, Rev. Jae Hwan Lee was also involved in Project BGAN.

It is always good to see this couple whose hearts are pure and passionate for the Lord and His Kingdom.
With Pastor Minsong Ahn...

With Pastor and Mrs. Ahn after the service...

Souvenirs displayed at Come Mission


In Kim and Uncle Ben (Jean Suk Kim) at Morangak... In and Uncle Ben are former OMC brothers. They now live and work in Orange County. In is an aerospace engineer and has retired from this industry. Recently, he has joined a company as an investor and management, which is a start-up to introduce a way to use AC and DC together to save energy. A quick visit to the company and conversation with the founder was helpful for me to understand better. Uncle Ben is still working as an engineer. Naengmyun at Morangak was superb! It was a North Korean style.
Waiting for Naengmyun at Morangak... Ben and In

In is President of this company

Formerly CCB Garden Grove Branch now a church... Transformation... Since I happened to be in Garden Grove, I decided to visit the former Garden Grove Branch of CCB which I established, opened and managed for two years. Later, the branch was relocated and it has been converted to a church. What a transformation!
Bank Branch turned into a church

Seeing Pastor Sam Pang and Chris Pang at BCD Soontofu... Pastor Sam came to Denver's KCPC as Education Pastor. He also led the EM, called Logos Central Chapel, which I helped gain financial independence from the KM. I even coined the name. Later, it span off to be completely independent, which I was not hoping to happen. Now, this church thrives. Pastor Sam and Chris moved back to Los Angeles and after some struggle he has now regained God's calling into shepherding. He is now Senior Pastor of Cerritos OMC, which I am familiar with. What a small world! They looked great with much maturity. I greatly enjoyed our reunion. I took the photo, but it was taken as a video and I do not know how to load the video. So...

My eyeglass remade at Italee Optical... I happen to change my eye glasses once every two years or so. Usually, I go to Italee Optical, the most well known place in Los Angeles. My eye sights are worsening, but what can I say...  I am aging. It is not going to get any better.

I was passing by USC or University of Southern California, my MBA alma mater... red and yellow... Fight On! Trojans!

It was a quick five-day trip to Los Angeles, but each time we visit, we feel grateful that we lived there. Do we want to go back there? No really. The home prices and earthquake threats are two major reasons for not considering this area for living any more. But a great place to visit! - Jeffrey

Trip to Korea (March 2014)

Best family photo taken by the driver Mr. Song in Jeju
Korea is my motherland. So it is always great joy to visit her.

This time, the joy was even greater because we made the trip together with Amanda and James. Amanda has been visiting Korea every decade over three times, but it was the first time visit for James. Moreover, we celebrated my father's 90th birthday. What a blessing to live for nine decades on earth!

Our schedule for 12 nights was quite busy with several mini tours.

Strategically, we rented an apartment nearby Seoul Station so that we can have easy access to everywhere. It worked. The lodging had two beds, with in an open space, thus lacking privacy.

Kristin and James had some stomach problems, but overall we kept ourselves pretty healthy.

Father's 90th Birthday Celebration:
  • Obviously this was the primary purpose for our family (missing Joyce) to travel to Korea. Our expanded family all got together to celebrate his long life. 
  • James was willing and able to learn the Korean custom of bowing in couple to my parents. It was foreign to him but he was so adaptive and pleasant. Everyone enjoyed him so much. Thumbs up!
  • Relatives on my mother side made an extensive trip all the way from Mokpo. Greatly appreciated.
    Extended family photo after our celebration
    Amanda and James with their grand parents

    Kristin also this time...
    Our family with parents

    Amanda and James bowing to my parents...
Trip to Jeju Island

  • Jeju is Korea's Hawaii. Surprisingly it is included in New Seven Natural Wonders of World!
  • It used to be the honeymoon place some time back. But now this island attracts so many tourists from overseas, primarily from China. To me, it was absolutely overcrowded and over developed. We learned that there are more than 120 themes and more than 100 museums in Jeju!
  • A foursome of our group received a private tour because the group was so small. Nobody else was in the group. We got to meet the driver, Mr. Song, who was kind and courteous in everything he did.
  • We not only toured the main Jeju Island but also made a trip to U-do (Cow) via a ferry where we drove around and also ate Red Bean Shaved Ice at Marilyn Monroe Cafe where Chuck and Eunice ate the same thing. Funny!
  • We saw the diving ladies who made deep dives into water to pick shells and crabs. It was unbelievable that the average age of these ladies is 70! They can hold their breath for up to three minutes.
  • We also watched a horse show performed by Mongolians and a circus performed by Chinese people. 
  • We took a boat that cruises that travels to a couple of islands off the coast. But it was rainy and windy, making the trip pretty challenging. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch sea gulls following the boat to catch the snacks that people were throwing. 
  • On the way, here and there, we visited a few commercial places, such as mushroom farm (Sang-Hang), medicinal vegetable growing out of dead bees (Dong Chung Ha Cho), horse bone power etc. 
    12 statues of oriental zodiac order personified... 

    A temple with great views

    Kristin looks tired...

    A shell-shaped business outlet...

    At U-do...

    On the cruise boat...

    Looking good...?

    We received special aroma treat for our feet...

    Don Quiote Statue...

    Sea Gulls following the boat...

    Citrons and mushrooms...

    In front of Harubang... unique to Jeju...

    Osulloc, a tea museum...

    Dragon Head Rock... a little broken now...

    In front of Marilyn Monroe Cafe
    Jeju horses together...

    At Haenyeo-do... wish comes true...?

    Marilyn Monroe Cafe... Ha!

    Ground nut ice cream with red bean... yummy

    Museum for shells

    With one of the diver lady...

    We were fortunate to be on time for their return...

    Live octopuses... want some?

    Amanda's special trick with this photo collection
The Book: (Korean translation of "The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good" by Peter Greer)
  • It was timely that this book was published.
  • We had a dinner together with the president of the publishing company, Misung Kim, and the president of Korea Copyright Center, Misook Hong, also Kristin's college friend. 
  • I distributed approximately 50 books to friends and colleagues in Korea. 
    The book...

    With Peter Greer, the author of the book...

    Kristin, Misung Kim and Misook Hong
Trip to Busan
  • This day-trip was made possible because of KTX, Korea's express train. We left Seoul around 8AM and came back around 9:30PM. Also, we rented an apartment nearby Seoul Station, which made all travels pretty convenient.
  • We briefly saw Min-Jung, an SBS alumnus living in Busan.
  • We visited Haewoondae, a beach town, Jagalchi Market, the largest fish market and a few other places. Too short to have a good taste, but it was fun to be together with Amanda and James on the way and back.
    Haewoondae Beach...

    Jagalchi Market... the largest fish market 

    Tiger shirimps... humongous...

    Fish, fish, fish

    Shells and clams...
Trip to DMZ
  • It was my first time to visit the world's only demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the Korean peninsula. 
  • We even entered into a tunnel that North Koreans dug to invade S. Korea if necessary. So far four of them have been discovered. One of them was as deep as 70 meters. It was a miracle to even spot it.
  • Imjingak is a place where the rustic train and other things are displayed evidencing the painful reality of the divided nation. 
  • Dorasan Station is the last northern station for S. Korea, but could be the international station that connects to N. Korea and further to Eurasia Train all the way to Moscow. If and when this materializes, it would open many opportunities for both Koreas.

    Rustic train that wants to run to north...

    Ribbons of wishes...

    The invasion tunnel we visited...

On top of Namsam:
  • Namsan is a mountain located at the heart of Seoul. There is a tower, called N Towner, on top and has an observatory. 
  • We went to the top riding a cable car and we walked down. Cherry and yellow forsythia flowers were in full blossom, indicating the spring's arrival.
  • We watched a performance of Korean traditional drum dancers hopping around the plaza at the top.
    Namsan Tower in distance...

    Love Locks at N. Towner
Seeing friends and relatives
  • It is undeniable joy to see old friends on every trip to Korea.
  • We saw Kristin's auntie who treated us with extravaganza Japanese sushi and sashimi. Wow! What a treat! The best Japanese dish we have eaten anywhere. Some sushi with instant cook on site for the surface was a new experience. Even James fully enjoyed the food, even the eyeball of a fish. Ha!
  • One of the visits involved a trip to Yonsei University, my college alma mater. It is always great joy to visit the old campus although there are so many buildings that have changed the landscape completely. A few shots that gave me a nostalgic feeling. Two of Agape friends are senior officers at the university, including Senior Vice President of Administrative Affairs.
  • We saw a few SBS alumni. They always encourage us and I pray for God's continuing guidance on their lives.
  • College friends, high school friends, college club (Agape) friends, other friends, fellow Kingdom workers, such as Harry Kim, Sunki Bang, Jaechul Jung, Paul Shin etc. We saw Peter and Sharon Song at the Incheon Airport. Peter is the senior pastor for a church in Incheon. We used to be high school department teachers at OMC in Los Angeles. Always short of time to see them all to full satisfaction. Whomever we saw received a copy of the book that I have translated.
    With Pyung Ku Lee

    With Hyung Gun Song at Young Nak Church after service

    With Jun Kim

    With Peter and Sharon Song at Incheon Airport

    With Kristin's auntie after extravaganza Japanese foods

    With Prof. Jinbae Park and Namhyun Kim, Agape friends

    Statue of Mr. Underwood, missionary and founder of Yonsei

    Main campus square seen from Prof. Park's office

    Truth will set you free (John 8:32)

    At Luce Chapel of Yonsei University

    Ji-Hyun and Sungeun with Kristin...

    With Sang Keub Lee, an SBS alumus

    With Harry Kim exchanging books
Food, food, food.  
  • Oh, what a joy and fun to eat Korean foods in Korea. All kinds of food. Just one eating opportunity of the past favorite foods is enough.
  • Fish cash (red bean), Chinese noodle with black sauce (Jjajang), Chinse noodle in seafood broth (Jjambbong), sushi (see above), sea food dish in Busan, haejangguk, small octopus bokkeum (stir-fried)... etc. I cannot even recall them all. We also ate eccentric foods in Jeju Island.

    Industrial cooking on sushi...?

    But they tasted delicious!

    Ah... fish-shaped cake... with red bean in it...
Trip to Korea always gives me a good memory with sweet taste in the brain as well as in the mouth. When will we visit there again? Good question! - Jeffrey