my grandfather passed away on tuesday. i received news about his condition at night and booked a flight to fly immediately the next morning. unfortunately, before my mother and i got on the plane, he passed away.
korean funerals usually last 3 days: friends and extended family come to pay their visits to him, saying bye, and the more immediate family greets the visitors all day long for every single one of those days until they bury the body or cremate.
as a national figure, my grandfather’s funeral lasted 5 days. we buried him this morning at a beautiful, sunny spot in Seoul.
i lost my only grandfather, the person who stood in for my missing father, the person who, aside from lifting a nation out of poverty after WWII, setting up various foundations and scholarship programs for brilliant students, national and international, was also a loving father and grandfather. he loved everyone of his children and his grandchildren.
i miss his laughter, his smart jokes, his asking me about when i’m going to get married, the way we used to sit together, communicating in silence.
it’s strange how this private, personal loss is turned into a public spectacle for the media; the press devoured our tragedy during those days, visits from politicians were strategic moves.
but there were many who truly mourned his death, people who were not family, maybe not even personal friends of his, but who genuinely loved him for what he had done for the nation during his lifetime. big corporate names came by, but people, who had put on their very best, but also sock that were torn from years of wear, came and cried in front of my grandfather’s portrait.
my grandfather was a great man.
i miss you so much, i love you, and you will always be with me.

r.i.p. steel king
1927-2011

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