Telling my Korean dad I’m going through therapy.

As in the title above, I am in the process of telling my dad I go through therapy.

In Korea, it was deemed almost taboo for someone to go to a therapist for psychological reasons. They thought anything that was psychological was either considered a sign on weakness or insanity.

Well, these days people are taking it much more seriously- and I personally know many people who go to the therapist on a regular basis: yes, including me.

It was hard to open up to my mom and dad about this, because the first time I told them I was suffering from depression– which was way back in my teenage years, they didn’t take it very well.

My mom burst into tears. She asked me if I was out of my mind- and asked me in such a mean way “that I have it pretty good, and that I don’t understand what real suffering is.” To be honest, that is just one of the bad episodes I have with her.

These days, I’ve been dropping hints about my mental issues:

  • I take sleep medication, because I can’t sleep.
  • I can’t take the subway when it is crowded- I sometimes faint and often freak out.
  • I go to therapy to talk about these problems.

Of course- I didn’t “put a label” on it. And when I start talking about it, my dad starts to shut his mouth. He’s not ready for it, or possibly, he thinks its not an issue that I should be worried about- because ‘people have gone through that without medication or therapy for AGES’, and I can too.

I’ll never really know what he’s thinking, because he never really talks about these things with me. But one day, I hope he’ll realize that this is just a part of who I am.

A Letter to mom #5

Mom, me and dad are doing great.

He’s working again, and we are taking care of two little fluffy cats. I know how much you loved animals.

Surprisingly enough, we are still taking care of the things you left behind-

and I have to say, it’s quite a pain in the butt.

Every time I feel like I’m forgetting the pain a little, there comes another incident where I have to talk about you, or share about you, or even be accused of trying to steal your money…

Strange world, huh.

Anyway, we’re meeting my future husband’s parents this weekend.

Dad got a nice short, hair cut and it’s looking really nice.

I really wish you were here. Sometimes I imagine you taking care of your grandchildren, or crying as I walk down the aisle…

And it really comes back to that surreal feeling that I might see you again.

It’s really hard to explain.

Weather’s warming up. I miss you lots.

With love,



I brought home two foster cats, and they teach me so much

Foster kitties Yulmoo and Chapssal

About these cats

After my mom passed, I brought home two foster cats to my dad’s house. This was after I had changed all his furniture, got him a new bed, and moved back in with him. (Just for a while)

My dad spent a lot of time sleeping- which he doesn’t do often… and a lot of time drinking his sadness away. Of course, I was there with him every night- doing the same.

There was a limit to the things I can say to him. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what I could say. Sometimes, even among family- you will find that there are no words to describe your emotions. Especially when you’ve been trained to lock your emotions in for over 50 years.

Lunar New Year came and went- we prepared my late mom a meal for the holidays (Korean ancestor worshipping tradition) and on the last day of the holiday, I brought these two fuzzies home.

Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to bring two new family members to our house in a state of grief. But I believed that we learn to heal by helping others heal. My dad and I needed a sense of empathy, a support group telling us it’s okay to be… well… not okay.

None of our human family members told us this. They told us to be strong. They told us to move on. They looked at our grief as a sign of weakness- something they can just rush past when clearly that wasn’t possible for the both of us.

Yulmoo (left) / Chapssal (Right)

What I learned from these two

Lesson 1: It’s okay to feel uncomfortable.

When Yulmoo and Chapssal first came, they seemed fine. They ate, ran, and used the bathroom. But just when I thought they were adjusting, that night- they soon became agitated and scared. Chapssal (I’ll call him Chap for short) meowed the whole night, and Yulmoo (I’ll call her Yool) hid under the sofa for the whole day after.

I think sadness and fear don’t necessarily show up as we predict they will. Sometimes, we feel okay- then we find out later that we really aren’t. And that’s ok.

My dad and I were okay with the cats being so- and maybe we should let ourselves be okay with not being okay. Even if we said we would be.

Lesson 2: In time, you will learn to love and trust again.

Must have been hard for them to come out of hiding. Even as small, fearless kittens- you can’t really force them to come out of hiding. It’s something that cannot be done by force.

But when they did come out from under the couch and stop crying- they learned to resume their daily activities, even started a few fun kitty fights with each other.

They learned to trust their environment and the situation they were in. Chap and Yool gained the confidence to start being themselves again.

Lesson 3: There are better days coming.

This isn’t the end for Chap and Yool. They are going to find a better home- and a loving family. For them, coming out of their fear and sadness was just the beginning of a new story.

Sure, they won’t go back to the old, warm house and family that rescued them. But that is in the past. There are better things waiting for them, and with every passing day, that day becomes closer.

Lesson 4: We always have each other, and sometimes it doesn’t require words.

Lastly, they’re always there for each other. That’s all that matters. Though they are parted from their rescue home, they still have each other to help each other get through it.

They don’t really say much, to be honest. They just sit there watching TV together, grooming each other, and eating with each other. Sometimes- it’s just the fact that someone is there for you that counts.

My dad and I, Chap and Yool spend more and more time laughing and playing now. It’s amazing what emotional change two foster cats can bring to us. I know that we may not be their forever home- and if someone else comes along to adopt them… we might need to say goodbye.

But for now, we are going to enjoy the time given to us- and just let ourselves be who we are, and look out for each other, for all of us- just like these two do for us.

A letter to mom #4

Mom, people say that the pain of my loss is the proof of a life that has been loved.

Every time I feel this pain, it tells me just how loved I was.

I don’t know if I’ll ever learn to be okay without you. Though many say time will heal,

the more times passes, the more unrealistic it sounds.

I took a few weeks off to be with dad.

I am really concerned about him, as I know it is probably harder for him than it is for me.

We miss you dearly.

People we couldn’t reach out to, keep calling us.

Even when your number is now gone, they find a way to reach out to us.

Each time someone approaches us with warm condolences, it brings tears to my eyes.

I feel that by now, all my tears should have been dried- but it is not so.

It fears me to think that all relationships come to an end.

It has me questioning mortality.

I don’t fear my own death- but I do fear the deaths of people I love.

Maybe be fear of loss is more a reality than the fear of death.

As I sit near the window you always sat by, the view of the room reminds me of you.

Passing by your favorite doughnut shop and drinking your favorite type of coffee reminds me of you.

Hearing your name and seeing your photos,

Listening to our songs- most of which were timeless classics-

It all reminds me of you still.

Please be well, and please visit me in my dreams just once.

I miss you so much.

Your daughter,


Letter to mom #3

Mom, it’s me.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t let go of the memories we had.

It somehow feels more painful to be awake than to be unconscious-

I wake up with nightmares of losing other people,

and everytime I see your photo or sign a paper that has to do with you-

I feel as if it’s the world against me– forcing me to let you go, when my heart is clearly not ready.

Today was the strangest sensation. You probably don’t know, but this is the second- family death that I’ve been through.

It was that feeling. A feeling of total isolation, a feeling of not wanting to get up- of… wanting to just give up.

I have to fight left in me right now.

Yet I can’t stop fighting… against what?

I hope your day was better than mine.

I’m glad to some point that this pain was mine to have, rather than yours.

I love you. I’m sorry for the things that I never did- that I could have.

It’s going to take a long time to get over this feeling. I’m scared. Please be there for me.



The fear of being alone in grief.

A very strange sensation that occurs after the loss of a parent is the fear of being alone in grief.

For me, that moment is now. Two weeks after my mom passed.

During the weeks after the funeral, I spent my days taking care of my mom’s financial loans and inheritance.

It was burdening financially as it was time-wise and emotionally.

Every time I would look at her driver’s license or hand in some paperwork with the words “deceased” on it,

I was forced to let her go, one set of paperwork at a time.

But I still got up and went to work. I had bills to pay, my mom’s bills to pay- and mouths to feed.

Every day in the office for two weeks- I worked harder, to get the days, the weeks behind me.

“After a few days, time will heal-” … “After a few weeks- time will heal these wounds.” This is what I kept telling myself.

But as every day passed by, the more the reality of it sunk in.

She was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.

Still in my heart- it’s so hard for me to let her go. I guess I’m scared I will forget her if I don’t hold on.

The only time I spend alone is in my car. That’s the only time I cry without being embarrassed or disturbed.

At home, my partner- At my parent’s house- my father, and anywhere outside- everyone else.

I had to keep strong, just to live the life that my mom would have wanted for me. Just to give them the reassurance that though I am in pain, I will be alright.

I had the feeling that I needed to keep moving, because the lives of everyone around me just went back to normal- even when everyday, I was struggling more and more to keep up with everyday activities like getting up or brushing my teeth.

Today, I woke up and wanted to sleep forever. I wanted to quit my job. I wanted to evaporate off the earth.

I spent a few hours in the lobby of my company’s wework, crying and trying to focus.

Things didn’t get better. I told my superiors about how I just couldn’t face people right now-

How I found it hard to stay in the office without tearing up-

How I said my goodbyes with every paper I turned in-

And how the tree where my mom was buried now had a tag with her name on it.

It has begun to sink in that, I won’t ever see her again.

I keep wanting to grieve, and stopping myself from grieving at the same time- because of the pain.

I feel so alone and misunderstood. I feel that the sadness is choosing to isolate me from the people I love- yet the company of just me- not having to do anything- is quite comforting and spooky at the same time.

If time heals these wounds, I wish I knew what to do for the time being.

Inheritance may not be a gift

When my mom was just starting to get sick in 2019,

my family decided that we would move to a larger house that had fresh air, on the outskirts of Seoul.

After my mom started to get sick, she was unable to pay back the loan we had on the house.

Naturally, the debt came into my name, as my dad had a poor credit score at the time.

For me, I hated that all the “heavy work” was done on my end-

as a child, that’s not my responsibility I thought.

But what choice did I have, when my parents are broke and have nowhere to go unless I take the debt?

Being the person that I am, I was okay with it after a while.

As an only child of two curious and artistic souls, I matured both emotionally and financially at a young age.

That was the burden that I needed to carry.

I had promised myself year after year that I would leave that family as soon as I had the chance to-

to no avail.

I couldn’t leave my mother behind to suffer like that.

This week, that house becomes mine.

I feel bittersweet about it.

It isn’t the house of my dreams, and I have no intention of living there in the following 10 years to come.

Yet, it’s better than nothing I suppose.

My mom’s lifelong dream was to have a house.

I am living in someone else’s dream.

There is so much paperwork to be done, even for a small, cheap house-

Which the result we may find in a few months to come.

A letter to mom #2

Mom, I have been sleepless for two nights.

I wish I was thinking of something, or even remembering a memory, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’m just there, thinking of nothing.

When I do fall asleep, I long to see you.

I want to walk with you in green fields and along the coasts of a sunny beach.

Instead, everyone else I know seems to come into my dreams.

As tired as I am, I still walk around with a smile on my face.

Sometimes, I feel so strong.

Sometimes, I feel that I will just evaporate into the cold winter air.

People have been treating me kindly.

I have been trying to do the same.

You have always told me to be a good person, and day by day I learn to understand what you meant.

Day by day, there are more things to do

And soon, I will be pushing away the grief inside of me and filling with other things.

I dread that day where I might not be able to remember your face.

Yours always,


A letter to mom #1

Mom, I miss you.

I know you barely recognized me in your last days, but I still miss your presence.

Dad and I have a better relationship now, maybe thanks to you.

You always looked out for us, and guessing by the people at your funeral-

everyone around you too.

People say that the heavens were jealous that we had you.

They say God took you, because heaven is where you belong.

I want to cry every day, but sadly for me- time goes on.

Wherever you are, I hope you aren’t in the pain I am in.

I hope you are free.

I hope you’re not in pain.

I hope you’re happier.

I hope, you can’t see me and dad live in this place without you.

Because I know you would want to come back for us.

You were the world to me, and I was the whole world to you.

No matter what, I would always love to be your family again.

I’ll always be your family.

We had a complicated relationship, with happiness and grief.

But that is what makes us human right.

I’ll always think of you.

Maybe not every day. Maybe not every week.

As time goes on, I hope that I learn to think of you less.

But you will always have a place in my heart.

Your daughter,


My moms funeral

Quite the contrary to my initial concern… Its unbelievable how many people were at my moms funeral.

The sheer number of visitors said a lot about the life she lived as an actress, friend, family member, and coworker.

It is very uncommon for so many tears to be shed at a korean funeral.

Most times, the visits are often quite professional, to say the least.

Many people hand in money, sign their name, say their goodbyes and leave.

My mom’s friends and coworkers still text her number, even a week after ther death.

They send her pictures of how happy they were to know her. Of the great memories they had, how exciting it was to meet her and work with her.

Flowers in my moms coffin

I hate that she left at such an early age, and of such bizzarre causes.

I wanted her to see me get married, to hold her grandchildren, to act on stage again.

But maybe, she just had enough.

This was what we wanted perhaps. Maybe those who are left are in more pain than those who have passed.

Never again, I believe will I see such a mix of emotions in a funeral house.

With nothing to pass on, with no other need to visit than just great emotions

Her life was a gift to others, and they will remember

She was an inspiration. She was pure joy. She was love in human form.

It was an honor to hold my place, in such a crowded room.

It was healing for myself too, to embrace her friends who teared up at the sight of me- because “I look just like her”

I am her living legacy, along with many countless works and films that captured her passion for acting.

And 2023 will start as a year of healing and overcoming the loss of someone very special to me.