I was watching a rerun of Anthony Bourdain last night in which he travels to Korea. About halfway through the program, he and his guide, Nari, visit a small village near the DMZ to meet Nari’s grandfather, whom she hasn’t seen in years. This is where they meet:
A raised building with wooden floors and an overhanging roof. The walls of the structure are made of paneled windows, showing an austere landscape in all directions.
I have been here before. Not in physicality, but in a dream.
About a month after coming home from Korea, I dreamed of Halmoni. In my dream, Amul and I were walking across the landscape and came upon this building. We climbed the stairs to find the room empty save for a lone figure sitting on the hard wooden floor at a low table. And somehow I knew it was Halmoni. The late afternoon sun cast shadows across her face as we sat before her.
Watching the late night rerun last night, I felt an odd sense of home and familiarity. Halmoni lives in the south, closer to Pusan than Seoul or the DMZ. In all likelihood, I will never visit the worn restaurant where Nari’s grandfather shared his story of escaping from the North. Yet, I know this place, have dreamed it.
And that is something significant.