I often wonder where my eternal homesickness stems from. I am constantly restless–regardless of how happy I am in my current environment, I never feel entirely at home. As a result, I constantly dream of other settings, in a display of what I shamefully think is disloyalty to my place of residence, or a display of romantic yearning.
I love the San Francisco/Berkeley area, and New York, and London…and then I watched the New York Philharmonic’s performance of “Arirang” in North Korea and it dawned on me that perhaps my homesickness stems from an inability to return home. Arirang is a forlorn song about goodbyes and reunion…if you are Korean you have probably heard this song at least once. When I was young, I imbibed the pathos of the song, and now as an adult, I am moved to tears everytime I hear it.
Watching the New York Philharmonic play it in North Korea? It suckerpunched me. North Korea is where my mother’s side of the family was born, lived, escaped from. And even the Korea my father (who hails from the South) knew is not the Korea that exists today–the Korea that is my mother and father’s home is one without a DMZ. And that, that makes me quite homesick to know that that does not exist.
Yet reading about Michelle Kim and her North Korean family roots makes me feel a bit less lonely.