papa c: the tohng dahk.

Today, I’m going to launch the papa c and mama c series on my blog. Papa c is my crazy dad, and mama c is my crazy mom. My parental units are first generation immigrants. They are annoying but wonderfully cute and endearing. They are hard working but quirky. I love them with all my heart.

This is going to be a weekly, ongoing series on my blog about the random and lovable and personal anecdotes from the lives of my parental units. This is not to make fun of them but to actually record my fond memories of them. Hope you grow to love them, too.

In honor of Memorial Day, I’m going to tell you a story of my dad when he was in the marine corps in South Korea. In Korea, to this day, young men are required to enlist in the army for about two years in their twenties. Almost forty years ago, papa c had to do the same. Instead of taking the normal route of enlisting as a regular foot soldier in the army, my dad prides himself in going to the hardest unit of the military — he went to the marine corps. But he wasn’t a regular foot soldier in the marine corps either. My dad wanted to enter as a lieutenant, which required an additional 10 months of rigorous training and boot camp. But once he was an officer of higher rank, he could do whatever he wanted.

Back then, South Korea was not an affluent country. In fact, my dad grew up quite poor. Soldiers in every regiment didn’t have much to eat. So one night during his service, my dad used his power as a lieutenant to get what he craved: he wanted a roast chicken, or a tohng dahk, to eat in the middle of the night. His subordinates–his hoobaes–were thus required to find a chicken in the middle of nowhere at the darkest hour of the night. They ended up sneaking into the mountains and found a small farm. They stole a chicken, roasted it in the ground, and served it to their lieutenant–their sunbae–with fear and exhaustion running through their bones.

My dad accepted the tohng dahk, didn’t share it at all*, and immediately went back to sleep with a full stomach and happiness written across his face. He tells this story with pride, little remorse, and with fond memories of his service in the marine corps and ordering his subordinates around. He talks about how delicious that tohng dahk was every time he tells this story :)

While you’re eating your hamburgers and hot dogs or maybe even some roast chicken today, let’s take a moment to remember the hard working men and women of our nation and around the world. Happy Memorial Day, lovelies!

*My dad corrected me. He did share with his subordinates who roasted the chicken! :)

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