Korean Word: ? (pronounced “jung”)

There was this girl when I was in Austin while I helped out at Austin KPC.  It was her last year in college and she was going to move to a faraway place to Boston for more schooling.  She had a rough year, and all she had was resentment, frustration, and bit of anger mixed into one gigantic concoction.  Her graduating class seemed so… hopeless to her.  They seemed to to be not trying… at least in her sight.  So when I had a chance to speak with her, she complained of them and told me how she wouldn’t miss Austin.  She really meant the people.

I told her then, just as I would again now if the opportunity came back, that no matter how much people had upset you and made you flabbergasted, when time goes by, you will miss them.  In fact, that you would long to see them again, and even perhaps want to relive that moment.  She didn’t think so.  I saw her briefly few years later… and she had told me that indeed, that is the case.

There’s a word in Korean language that my good friend, Professor Paul Andre Minifee, understood all too well.  ?.  There’s no English equivalent word for it.  It is similar to affection, having developed a sense of bond, of belonging, of family, and becoming a part of that person’s life.  It’s like as if you have imparted in that person(s) a part of you in them and so when they are far away, you miss them.  You long for them.

I have been nearly married (come next June 9) seven years.  Seven freaking years.  Time just goes by.  Did my use of that f-word startle you?  Does that seem to imply that I’m not happy for past 7 years?!  Well, it would be partially true.  But only in very small part.  You see, as I have been telling whoever seems to need to hear it, we fought practically on a daily basis the first couple of years of our marriage.  It’s sheer God’s grace that we had pulled through it all.  When Soojin and Anna stayed in Korea for 2 months back five years ago, I hadn’t missed them so much (save for that stupid movie with the worst intro called “Finding Nemo“!).

However, now that we have been together for 7 years, having lived with my daughter for 6 years, and JJ for 4 years, I have developed a sense of “jung” towards them.  It just seemed like yesterday when JJ’s constant waking up at 3 am would drive both of us nuts!  It seemed like yesterday that Anna would simply just cry to put a stop to her father’s impending punishment.  And it still feels like we just fought yesterday.  Now, I miss them.  Terribly.

Funny how life changes a person.  As time goes by, through the thick and thin, you develop this special kind of bond.  I suppose this is what you call marriage.  And a family.  What used to bother me, I’d trade everything I have to just have it back!  I miss JJ snoring (like his father) at night.  Anna sleeps like a stick (or a frog, depending on her fatigue level) at night.  Soojin is… unreadable only sometimes.

I now find myself again finding God to be… a bit of a comic.  To make us as we are, I just can’t stop thinking about what He must’ve been thinking when designed and created us!  I’m not lovable by any means… but I guess God had developed a sense of ? (jung) towards us: both lovable and annoying at the same time.  It’s going to be tough three months, but we are all in a place God wants us to be…

I miss everyone … all the people I had met in the past.  I wonder if that girl, who is now married, would still tell me that she misses those people from Austin…

4 Replies to “Korean Word: ? (pronounced “jung”)”

  1. Your post is sweet yet melancholy. How about you sleep over again Saturday night. John and I can act like monkeys around you till you’re pooped–that should remind you of your kids. Hahaha.

  2. Word, brother Peter. Jung will always be one of my favorite Korean concepts. God apparently wants you to realize just how much jung you share with your family and Him. The timing of this entry is uncanny, as I was just discussing how different cultures express the sentiment of “missing” someone. There’s no direct translation for the word in Hangul…”pogoshipda” connotes “I want to see you” more so than missing, whereas Spanish has two ways of expressing the longing to see someone who’s been absent as well as the feeling of being “deficient” or missing something inside because of that person’s absence (Portuguese also doesn’t have missing but something more like anxiety from someone’s absence). All of these suggest that there is “jung” between these people. You are feeling the absence of your children’s laughs, cries, and complaints, of Soo Jin’s affection and stability. There are definitely things “missing” in your world without them, which is why I like one of the Spanish phrases that translates to “I am missing you”….that is, you are missing from my life and being. I’m incomplete without you…our “jung” is tugged and tested. Thank the Lord that our jung with Hiim never leaves us incomplete, for He is omnipresent and His love is forever.

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