Saturday, July 25, 2015


I haven’t posted about this exciting development because it hasn’t been my story, but my youngest brother, Drew’s.  But with his blessing to share, I’m now relating Drew’s successful birthfamily reunion.  Drew’s interest in searching actually started a few years ago, and when we traveled to Korea in 2012 (see blog post KSS).  We learned a bunch of information about Drew’s birth, and, as it turns out, were fed quite a bit of speculative and inaccurate information as well.

Drew traveled to Korea again in 2013 with Grace Song and Minyoung Kim’s adoptee tour group, and was able to connect with Sgt. Lee of Namyoung police department’s “Special Investigation Team of Long-Term Missing Persons.”  Sgt. Lee is pretty well known in Korean adoptee circles for his efforts in reconnecting birthfamilies with adoptees.  Often, when the reluctance of adoption agencies of sharing information (or, as I have noticed, the ubiquity with which adoptees’ records have been “lost in a fire at the orphanage” years ago.  Doesn’t this seem disconcerting, that so many fires that destroyed adoptee records occurred in orphanages?  What is it about orphanages in Korea that seems to invite fires?  I really think the health department should look into this…) serves as a roadblock in adoptees’ birth searches, Sgt. Lee has been able to access identification through his position with the police department.  A few months after Drew’s 2013 trip, he received word that Sgt. Lee had been able to locate a current address and contact information for his birthfamily.  Interestingly, the day after receiving an email from Sgt. Lee confirming the success of his query, KSS emailed Drew stating that they had conducted another search (we assume this was initiated because of Sgt. Lee and/or the adoptee tour’s inquiries with KSS that summer), and had determined that finding his birthfamily was impossible, and at this point there was nothing else that could be done.  Sgt. Lee’s email confirmed the fact that both his parents were still living in Hongseong where Drew had been born, even though in previous communication with KSS, KSS had told us that Drew’s mother had moved to Namwon City and that it was likely that Drew’s father had passed away.

This is where I commend Drew for knowing himself well enough to know it wasn’t the right time.  Although Sgt. Lee was anxious to make contact with Drew’s birthfamily and get the reunion process started, Drew knew that even armed with tangible contact information, he wasn’t quite ready to take that next big step.  Whenever I give talks about my own adoption and reunion experience, this is something I always stress to adoptees thinking about starting a birth search.  Before you search, make sure you’re emotionally ready.  You have to be prepared for any of the outcomes a birth search can lead to.  Your inquiry could turn up no information whatsoever (I think the current statistic is something like 1-3% of adoptees’ searches are successful).  It could reveal that your birthparents have been located, but they had passed away.  It could result in finding your birthfamily, but learning they don’t want to establish contact.  It could result in finding out everything you’ve been told about the circumstances of your adoption your whole life was a lie.

Even for those who reunite, I caution viewing reunion as some magic puzzle piece.  I think so many of us fantasize about reunion because of the inherent holes and trauma adoption pierces us with.  But going into reunion expecting it to magically solve all of your problems is setting yourself up for disappointment and isn’t fair to any of the parties involved.  And even those reunions that are deemed “successful” like my own, the continued maintenance of those newly-established relationships is hard work!  There are so many cultural, familial, and emotional expectations from all sides that have to be negotiated and navigated.  Notions of family and the roles of mother, daughter, sister, brother, son, father have to be redefined over and over.  Not to mention the fact that  languages and oceans separate us the vast majority of the time.

So, wise soul Drew is, he waited.  He waited two years until, while crewing a boat headed from Taiwan to Okinawa, Drew decided he was ready to make the leap.  He contacted his friend Minyoung and Sgt. Lee to reopen his birthsearch and wrote a letter to his birthparents to be translated. After being stranded in Okinawa for several weeks after the damage to the boat from the typhoon in April rendered it un-sailable (the plan was to island-hop from Okinawa up to Jeju and Pusan), Drew booked a flight and landed in Incheon on July 2.  As luck would have it, Drew’s getting caught in the typhoon which delayed arrival in Seoul resulted in his and my travel itineraries overlapping.  The day after Drew arrived in Seoul, he had a meeting with Sgt. Lee to go over his case.  Drew was gracious enough to let me tag along. We met with Minyoung, who had scheduled everything, and joined a handful of other adoptees wanting to meet Sgt. Lee to submit DNA tests in hopes of finding a familial match.  We didn’t get a chance to talk with Sgt. Lee at that meeting, but Minyoung left us with hope that we’d have some developments by the end of the week.

Two weeks went by and we heard nothing.  With just a few days left before his flight back home, Minyoung contacted us out of the blue late on Tuesday night.  We were to meet her the next morning at 10 am to meet Drew’s parents at Sgt. Lee’s office.  The immediacy of the scheduled reunion is in stark contrast to my own experience where I corresponded with my birthmother for a year before I came to Korea to meet her in person.  Our reunion was planned months in advance and we had already shared many of our feelings and sentiments prior to this through letters.  Drew had less than twelve hours to prepare himself.  Every few hours, I’d ask him how he was feeling, and he always responded by saying that it felt surreal, he hadn’t had time yet to let it sink in.

A sibling selfie before heading to Sgt. Lee’s office:

We stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts before heading to the police station for Drew to fuel up for the task ahead with cookies n’ cream doughnuts, and then in a whirlwind of “wait here,” “sit over there,” “tuck in your shirt,” “wait right here,” “come with me,” “make sure you introduce yourself as Lee Yong Woo,” we were led to a small room where four people sat expectantly on the ondol floor.

And Drew introduced himself, and hugs and a few tears were exchanged.  Drew’s whole birthfamily, save the middle brother who couldn’t get time off work, but would meet us later in the afternoon, had come to meet him.  Immediately, the family resemblance was remarkable.  All four sons have their aboji’s eyes.  I think Drew has his omma’s nose and her build.

Drew’s eldest brother, Yong-un:

Drew’s middle brother, Yong-min:


Drew’s third brother, Yong-ho:

We sat and Drew talked about his adoptive family and growing up in the United States.  His father explained the circumstances of Drew’s adoption.  Back in 1991 (Drew was born January 7, 1992), Drew’s parents bought a fruit and vegetable farm in Hongseong.  With all the startup costs and investments that establishing a new farm entails, the family was heavily in debt.  Drew’s birth came as a surprise.  Apparently, he was at least two weeks early, and Drew’s father was out driving the pickup truck when his mom went into labor.  IMG_0988They rushed to the Hongseong hospital (which, according to Drew’s appa, was just a single-story building back then.  We visited in 2012 and it was a multi-level modern hospital campus).  With three sons already to support and the debts accrued from starting the farm, Drew’s father realized he would be unable to pay the hospital bills.  Back when Drew and I visited KSS in 2012, the case manager told us that because he couldn’t pay the hospital bills, Drew’s father started asking around the hospital if he could leave the baby.  We found out that in actuality, while Drew’s father was trying to figure out how to scrape some money together to pay the bill, an agent from the adoption agency approached him at the hospital and offered to pay all the hospital fees if he relinquished custody of the baby.  Feeling like this was his only option, Drew’s father agreed.

Here, Drew’s omma teared up.  Still in labor, she, apparently had not been included in the decision-making drew baby passportprocess.  With parental rights signed away even before Drew was born, as soon she gave birth, Drew was whisked away.  His birth parents never even got to see him.  Confused and exhausted from labor, Drew’s mother had no idea what was going on when they took her son away.  But they didn’t forget him.  It was important for Drew to ask if they thought about him each year on his birthday.  His parents assured him that they thought about him often, and even talked about him, wondered what he was doing, hoped that he happy and loved.  These conversations were done in privacy, however, when Drew’s three older brothers weren’t around.  They grew up not knowing they had younger brother, and found out about Drew’s existence just the day before the reunion.

Despite the shock of learning about this twenty-three year old family secret the day before, Drew’s brothers immediately welcomed him into the fold.  Within minutes, they were asking him about his interests, marveling at the physical resemblances among themselves, and collectively commiserating over the seeming difficulty the Lee brothers have in attaining girlfriends.  They all slid so comfortably into familiarity, that Drew at one point pulled me aside and said, “It’s so weird, I thought we’d be crying and wailing the whole time, but instead we’re laughing together and even teasing each other!”  I think this is both a testament to the immediate familial bonds that were established within Drew’s family, but also the fact that there is no “right way” for a reunion to proceed.  So often we are conditioned to certain affective expectations of love and loss that when real life doesn’t play out like a Korea drama, we wonder if we’re doing it right.  For Drew, the way the afternoon proceeded constituted a perfect reunion, even if it didn’t consist of close-up shots of tears glistening in his omma’s eyes and tortured looks of longing shot across the room among the separated brothers.

The easy camaraderie among the brothers was remarkable, but what struck all of us the most though, I think, was the personality resemblance between Drew and his father.  Like Drew, Drew’s aboji is a dreamer, a big idea person.  They have big aspirations, and often make impulsive decisions, but sometimes find the tediousness of actualizing their aspirations challenging.  Though maybe not the most academically-inclined, both are fascinated by science, nature, and documentaries.  Like Drew, his father loves making things with his hands, and even handmade a Korean bow and forged a knife when he was Drew’s age.  Drew’s father plays the guitar and harmonica.  And we’ve finally discovered where Drew got his artistic talent:  his aboji is a natural artist.  Even their artistic style is similar, both preferring line drawings that make perspective and depth perception seem like a piece of cake.  Drew said talking with his aboji was like talking with himself.

Drew’s aboji doing a quick drawing in Drew’s sketchbook:

This was extremely validating for Drew, as it would be for any adoptee, being able to connect with a biological family member and share interests and personality traits after wondering about such inheritances for so long.  But I actually think it was equally affirming for Drew’s father.  He beamed the whole afternoon, and crowed that finally there was someone in the family who understood him!  Apparently, the other members of the family are often exasperated and bewildered by Appa and his actions.


After talking for a couple hours, we all went out in search of Drew’s favorite Korean food for lunch (dolsot bibimbap).  Lunch was a cheerful affair of joking, passing around photos, and the passing around of Drew’s sketchbook, where everyone attempted to show off their artistic prowess.  Two-thirds of the way through lunch, Drew’s father got up from the table and wandered out the door.  Everyone seemed unconcerned, and we eventually found him wandering around the neighborhood about twenty minutes after the rest of us had finished eating.  This is when we learned that though they grew up in a rural and fairly conservative community, individuality is very important to Drew’s family.  While very close as a family, all its members are fiercely independent and are encouraged to do their own thing.  Drew’s father does his thing on the farm.  His mom manages a big restaurant in Hongseong.  None of his brothers live at home with their parents.  Two live (in separate apartments) in Ansan, and one lives in Shinchon.  Two of his brothers work in offices of mechanics companies, and his middle brother is studying Buddhist theology despite being raised Catholic.

At this point, the family was ready to head to Ansan to Drew’s middle brother’s apartment.  It was here that I decided to bow out.  I wanted to give Drew some time alone with his family.  So I left Drew beaming within the arms of his birthfamily.

The four dragon brothers, Yong-Un, Yong-Min, Yong-Ho, and Yong-Woo :IMG_0684 1


The whole family together:

Drew met up with his family again a few days later to celebrate Aboji’s birthday.  Omma, whose prowess in the kitchen is apparently legendary, cooked a feast, including the best homemade kimchi Drew had ever tasted:drews ommas meal

Drew gifted his father with two of his most prized possessions: his adventuring multi-tool and his half-completed sketchbook.  Drew asked his father to complete the rest.  His father was thrilled and touched by the gifts, and according to Drew, wouldn’t let anyone else touch them the rest of the day!


Drew flew back home earlier this week, but with familial ties with his birthfamily firmly established.  I have no doubt this is only the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship for Drew. The night before Drew left, I sat and chatted with him as he packed his bags.  “It’s like I’ve always been part of the family,” he said to me. “Just I’ve been away for the past twenty years or so.” 


From Drew's and my 2012 trip to Korea:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekly Response 4

My response to this week’s theme of “The Visual Politics of National Division”:

Militarized Modernity, Maternalism, and Gendered Nationalism

Suzy Kim’s chapter, “Liberated Spaces” provides an interesting look at the North Korean liberation movement from both the perspectives of male and female freedom fighters. Kim’s narratives demonstrate that men and women conceptualized their contributions to the liberation movement in very different terms: “men's life stories appropriated national history as their own while women attempted to insert their life into national history by joining the national struggle, equating national liberation with women's liberation.”[1] I was also delighted to read Professor Hughes’ piece, “Planet Hallyuwood,” and particularly, his discussion of the 1963 film, The Marines Who Never Returned.[2] These two pieces actually dovetailed with current research and readings I conducted this past spring in preparation for my doctoral qualifying exams, especially on the topics of gendered citizenship and, interestingly enough, settler colonialism and maternalism.

Suzy Kim’s observations remind me of Seungsook Moon’s book, Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea,[3] which has been a very useful text for my own research. While Kim discusses North Korean efforts for liberation during the Japanese colonial era, and Moon focuses on South Korean nation-building after the Korean War, I definitely found parallels in how national history, belonging, and Korean subjecthood are constructed and mobilized. In Militarized Modernity, Moon argues that argues that the different ways in which males and females were mobilized to modernize the nation resulted in differences between men and women’s citizenship trajectories. Using the notion of militarized modernity, Moon illuminates the three interrelated process of sociopolitical and economic formation: “the construction of the modern nation as an anti-communist polity, the making of its members as duty-bound ‘nationals,’ and the integration of the institution of male conscription into the organization of the industrialized economy.”[4] Thus, for South Korean men, the military becomes an integral route through which they contribute to strengthening their nation into modernity. Similarly, in Kim’s piece, North Korean men highlighted their military service or their involvements in the resistance movement, and the national framework informed their personal narratives. South Korean women, on the other hand, according to Moon, are called to implement birth control measures in order to help build a strong industrialized economy. Hence, women’s civic contributions are framed through limiting reproductive labor—which extends their ability to work in industrial labor positions—and their economic contributions go unacknowledged and erased. Similarly, Kim describes how in the women’s narratives, their political involvement in the liberation movement was dismissed or devalued, and talked about only in terms of their roles as mothers.

I believe that The Marines Who Never Returned exemplifies the way in which military service was conflated with masculine South Korean citizenship. Film scholar David Scott Diffrient notes that “military enlightenment” films such as The Marines Who Never Returned “turned time and time again to the perennial themes of familial division, civic reconstruction, and heroic self-sacrifice pro patria,” which “formed the emotional backbone of the anticommunist film, and ostensibly conservative ‘umbrella genre’ predisposed . . . to the governing ideals put forth by the authoritarian administrations of Presidents Syngman Rhee and Park Chung Hee.”[5] Connected through the affection for war orphan Yŏng-hŭi, a troop of young, virile marines establish the close bonds of brotherhood and family in the face of the destruction of war. Deployed to battle the North Korean and Chinese communist soldiers, “so we can live in a war-free world,” the film portrays the soldiers both as happy-go-lucky young men on an adventure in the prime of life, as well as deeply moved by the ugliness of war. Between these two poles of life and death that comprise the military experience, the film paints these marines as ideal masculine South Korean subjects, who can at once embody a wholesome joie de vivre and willingly shoulder the heavy mantle of wartime sacrifice for the good of the country.

As Hughes points out in “Planet Hallyuwood,”[6] the title of the film alludes to the final outcome of the narrative: the marines make the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield, dying to protect an idealized South Korean way of life. All but one do not return. But it is through the single survivor that the boundaries of masculine subjecthood are reinforced. As Seungsook Moon reminds us, “[M]en are the protectors who leave home for the barracks, and women are the protected who stay behind and watch their men leave.”[7] The “milquetoast radio operator nicknamed Ŭnni, or Sister,” however, does not make the vital sacrifice of his life for his nation, but returns to base camp where orphan Yŏng-hŭi is fulfilling her the gendered expectation of staying behind to be protected.[8] The fact that the surviving soldier’s nickname is Older Sister emphasizes the fact that he does not conform to the militarized modernity standard of the male South Korean subject.

Conversely, I found parallels between Suzy Kim’s discussion of female liberation occurring within the domestic space and maternalist projects in settler colonies led by female European settler colonists. While North Korean women engaged in efforts to be liberated from colonialism, and Victorian maternalists sought to use the domestic sphere as a place to reinforce colonial power, I think that both these cases demonstrate how women extended and reinterpreted their roles as mothers to influence political change and construct specific national imaginaries. Further, in both cases, I believe that the “domestic has a double meaning that not only links the familial household to the nation but also imagines both in opposition to everything outside the geographic and conceptual border of the home.”[9]

In terms of female projects of settler colonialism, the domestic is in intimate opposition to the foreign, and related to the imperial project of civilizing. As Amy Kaplan argues, “Through the process of domestication, the home contains within itself those wild or foreign elements that must be tamed; domesticity not only monitors the borders between the civilized and the savages but also regulates traces of the savage within itself.”[10] Kaplan makes the important point that the development of the Cult of Domesticity in America is contemporaneous with notions of imperial expansion and Manifest Destiny. Through what Kaplan terms “imperial domesticity,” the home became an arena that promoted Manifest Domesticity’s aspirations of national expansion. The Cult of Domesticity became a unifying ideology that united “women of different social classes in a shared project of construction while sustaining class hierarchy among women” (Kaplan 587).

Yet, Kaplan also observes that tension exists as the domestic settler colonial woman gains her symbolic sovereignty through “imperial isolation,” by withdrawing from the outside world, cloistering herself within the contracted space of the home. She becomes what Barbara Welter calls “the hostage in the home.”[11] As the market economy run by men continued to devalue feminine domestic work, white women sought climb the ladder of imperial power and social hierarchy dominated by men while maintaining the virtues of feminine domesticity. As Margaret Jacobs observes, “While they enjoyed racial and colonial privilege, [white women] also endured gender exclusion; their uneven status enabled them to simultaneously collaborate with and confound colonial aims.”[12] Thus, through “maternalism,” white women edged their way out of the home to become agents of colonial control and advocates for social policy reform. In her book, White Mother to a Dark Race, Jacobs lays out the characteristics of the politics of maternalism:

(1) elevating motherhood as woman’s most sacred occupation; (2) justifying women’s presence in public reform as a natural extension of their experience or socialization as mothers; (3) acting in a motherly manner toward other women they deemed in need of rescue and uplift; and (4) upholding a maternal and domestic role as most fitting for other women, not for themselves.[13]

Using maternalism to justify their participation in politics outside the home, white feminists argued that they were “merely extending their natural role as potential mothers who had values and skills that were necessary to solve the major problems of the day.”[14] Similarly, Suzy Kim observes that “[North Korean] women appropriated one of their core traditional identities, as mothers, to justify and validate their entry into the political arena through a form of revolutionary motherhood that had striking parallels with discourses in North Korea.”[15] Thus, for both female North Korean resisters as well as female European settler colonists, “Motherhood was taken from the private into the public realm to embrace not her own child but society at large and the future generations to come. The private was indeed the political as motherhood was transformed into a revolutionary identity.”[16]

To conclude, and to incorporate this week’s discussion of the politics of museums, memorials, and national narratives, I would like to argue that the representation of women in the War Memorial of Korea reflects the gendered trajectories of Korean citizenship and the erasure of women from the “masculine” nationalism of militarization. The War Memorial of Korea has relegated just a single small room of its 220,000 square feet of gallery space to the contributions of women in the military. The space displays the varying uniforms women in Korea’s military wear, and yet, the majority of positions women seem to occupy are limited to nursing or administrative positions. The single solid wall of the exhibit is occupied by photographs of Korean female soldiers “in the field,” yet in contrast to the grim depictions of combat and casualty throughout the rest of the museum, these photographs show smiling Korean (female) soldiers occupied with humanitarian and domestic tasks: holding babies, embracing civilians, administering medical aid, building schools. Thus, in the state-sanctioned narratives, as well as the oral histories of “everyday” Koreans that Suzy Kim analyzes, women are relegated to familiar feminine roles of mothers and caretakers, and their contributions to liberation, nation-building, and national defense are devalued, deemed not important enough to record.

[1] Kim, Suzy, Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013, p. 231.

[2] I was particularly pleased that Professor Hughes highlighted the ubiquitous presence of orphans in Korean films, which happens to be a pet project of mine.

[3] Moon, Seungsook. Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005. Print.

[4] Ibid. 2.

[5] Diffrient, David Scott. “‘Military Enlightenment’ for the Masses: Genre and Cultural Intermixing in South Korea’s Golden Age War Films.” Cinema Journal 45.1 (2005): 22–49. Print, p. 23.

[6] Hughes, 202.

[7] Moon, 44.

[8] Diffrient, 41.

[9] Kaplan, Amy. “Manifest Domesticity.” American Literature 70.3 (1998): 581–606. Print, p. 581.

[10] Ibid. 582.

[11] Welter, Barbara. “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860.” American Quarterly 18.2 (1966): 151–174. Print, p. 151.

[12] Jacobs, Margaret D. “Maternal Colonialism: White Women and Indigenous Child Removal in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940.” Western Historical Quarterly 36.4 (2005): 453–476. Print, p. 456.

[13] Jacobs, Margaret D. White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. Print, p. 89.

[14] Ibid. 91.

[15] Kim, 232.

[16] Ibid. 234.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cooking Class

On Sunday, Drew and I attended a Korean cooking class hosted by GOA’L at Hoya’s Korean Cooking School.  Hoya is a very well known chef in Korea, and was a contestant on the Korean version of Master Chefs.  She gave a demonstration on how to cook two special occasion Korean dishes and then we got to try our hand at making our own!
Chef Hoya:
Chef Hoya’s capable sous chef:
We first learned how to make kalbi jjim, Korean short rib casserole.  Here’s the recipe:
300g beef short ribs
1/4 Korean radish
1 carrot
1 onion
2 green onions
1 cup sparkling water (apparently some Koreans use Cola)
1/4 Korean pear
1/2 cup soy sauce
2T sugar
3T corn syrup or honey
1t pepper20150712_113424
3T ginger “tea” (Chef Hoya soaked dried slices of ginger in water, and used the liquid)
1T chopped garlic
1/2 cup pureed Korean pear
2T sesame seed oil
3T mirin
1. Soak beef in cold water for 30 minutes, drain.
2. Cube the radish and carrot into pieces the same size as the beef chunks.  Round all the edges and corners, so that when the stew is boiling, the vegetables don’t break apart.
3. Cut the onion into 3cmx3xm pieces and chop the green onion. Set these aside for now.
4. Blanche the radish and carrot in boiling water with salt (~1 minute).  Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove vegetables from boiling water.
5. Score the beef with a fork, and then in the boiling “vegetable stock” you’ve just made, blanche the beef.  Remove beef with a slotted spoon.
6. In a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or pressure cooker, marinate the beef and vegetables in 1 cup of sparkling water (this apparently tenderizes the meat).
7. While your beef and veggies are marinating, prepare the sauce in a separate bowl.
8. Add sauce to your beef and vegetables.  If you’re using a pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes.  Release steam, add the chopped onion, and boil until onion is tender.  If you’re using a regular pot, cover and simmer until vegetables and beef are tender.  Add onion toward the end.
9. Garnish with green onion.
The completed dish:
Our next dish was japchae.  This is considered a special occasion dish because it is such an involved dish to prepare.
100g dried sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyun)
50g beef
1/2 onion
1/2 carrot
2 shiitake mushrooms (remove stems)
60g mushrooms
2 green onions
1 red chili
1 egg
sesame oil
Beef Marinade:
1t soy sauce
1/3t sugar
1t sesame oil
1t minced green onion
splash of ginger “tea”
black pepper
Noodle sauce:
1T soy sauce
1t sugar
1t corn syrup or honey
1t sesame oil
1. Soak dried noodles in warm water for 30 minutes.  Prepare noodle sauce and set aside.
2. Prepare beef marinade in a small bowl. Cut beef into small pieces (again like matchsticks), and mix with marinade.  Set aside.
3. Chop all vegetables into matchstick-sized pieces.
4. Add a little bit of cooking oil to  a frying pan, heat pan, and fry one scrambled egg.  Cook on both sides, the egg should look like a crepe pancake.  Set cooked egg aside to cool.
5. Adding a little bit more oil to the pan, fry the vegetable on high heat.  Chef Hoya suggests adding the vegetables to the pan to cook from light to dark, as cooking times vary among the ingredients.  Begin with onion.  Once translucent, push the onion to the edges of the frying pan and add the carrot.  Fry carrot in the center of the pan where it is hottest.  Once carrot is tender, add mushrooms and green onions.  Finally, add the beef and marinade and the red pepper.
6. Drain the noodles from the water they’ve been soaking in and boil them in hot water for ~8 minutes.  Drain the noodles and mix them with the noodle sauce.
7. Add noodles to the fried vegetables, and mix together.
8. Roll the egg into a tube and chop to create egg “ribbons.”
9. Garnish the japchae with egg ribbons and roasted sesame seeds.
The finished product:
Drew thought it was delicious.
Having watched Chef Hoya prepare the dishes, now it was our turn.
20150712_12203220150712_123747 20150712_123928
I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures of our cooking because my hands were a sticky, greasy mess for most of the process.
Here’s my take on japchae:
And Drew’s:
Just kidding. This is Drew’s:
Hoya said that my kalbi jjim was first place! I rounded my vegetables well, they were uniform size, and my vegetables maintained good color (I have no idea how to maintain good vegetable color).
So delicious!