Remote tour brings Kunsan Airman closer to family

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel Earick
  • 8th Fighter WIng Public Affairs

The sizzling of a pan, the cheerful laughter of family catching up and the clink of chopsticks during Charye are all sounds that bring a rush of nostalgia for Airman 1st Class Hyeon Jung, 8th Communications Squadron cybersecurity technician.

Chuseok, or Hangawi, is a holiday celebrated in the Republic of Korea on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar. While the exact date of the holiday will vary year to year, it will always fall on the day of a full moon.

The day before and after Chuseok is observed as well and serves as an opportunity for families to enjoy each other's company while honoring their ancestors and giving thanks for the mid-autumn harvest.

“During the first day of Chuseok, everyone visits family, plays games and eats lots of food,” said Jung. “The second day in the morning we visit our ancestors to pay our respects by giving them food that was cooked the day prior, we then bow at their grave to show our respect and honor.”

Some of Jung’s fondest memories of the holiday were when she was at her grandmother's home whether at Gunsan, ROK or New Jersey.

“The best memory from my childhood was always making dumplings and rice cakes with my family,” said Jung. “We had two cooking teams, the A-team and the B-team, preparing dishes for the feast and my mother and grandmother were always so encouraging while cooking.”

For Jung, cooking food was a way to honor her family, past and present.

“I always loved getting complimented on my food when I was younger,” Jung said. “Once we were done steaming and preparing it, I would mark the ones I made and make sure that I gave those to my grandmother, who would always tell me how mine tasted the best because I made it.”

Now that Jung is older and serving in the U.S. Air Force, she understands the importance of making time to visit family.

“Korea is a very busy country, everyone is work-focused and works crazy hours, so Chuseok gives us a chance to stop, relax and visit our family and celebrate our ancestry,” said Jung.

As Jung reflects on the memories made with her family over the years she hopes others can make time to connect with family this holiday.

“It would be nice for everyone to reach out to their family and loved ones to let them know they are in their thoughts and missed,” said Jung. “In doing so, you are immersing yourself in Korean culture by acting through the traditions of Chuseok.”