Last weekend I was walking thru Insadong, the street full of traditional Korean artists and craftsmen. There are many art galleries here as well as small shops that sell traditional calligraphy supplies and antique scrolls and rice paper artworks.

     As I was passing by one of these stores I happened to stop and look in the window at some calligraphy and protraits of Korean nobility. 

     Suddenly the shopkeeper came out. She was very agitated and looked as if she had seen a ghost. In her broken English she begged me to come inside to see the most incredible thing. She grabbed my arm and pulled me into the store before I could say no. 

     Her daughter, who spoke English fairly well, apologized for her mother and explained that when I looked into the window her mother had become very agitated. "My mother kept saying 'a ghost! a ghost!' and ran out to get you," the daughter explained.

     Meanwhile the mother, who had run upstairs into the private family quarters, was coming down the stairs with an old scroll in her hand. Carefully she unrolled it and placed it with loving care onto a bamboo mat on the counter. 

     You could have knocked me over with a feather for there on the rice paper parchment that must have been at least a hundred years old was my own face staring back at me!!!

     The daughter translated for her. "This scroll belonged to my grandfather who was given it when he was a young man. This man is a foreigner who was stranded here over a hundred years ago. He became famous as a moksa (pastor) who helped many during the famines and wars of the time."

     As hard as I tried she would not sell me the scroll. Instead she insisted that I take it as it must be my ancestor from long ago. I now have this scroll mounted and hanging on my wall to prove my Korean Ancestor. I have posted a picture of it on the photo page for all to see.

     Kamsahamnida! Joe
Tim Schelling
10/14/2009 11:23:37 am

This experience is a big WOW!
Perhaps you could get more detail through


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