Welcome 2019 with the sun

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Welcome 2019 with the sun

The author, an American, is a former cast member of the JTBC show “Non-Summit.”


I recently reserved a flight ticket to the United States to spend Christmas with my family. As I was scheduling my flight back to Korea, I thought about whether I should spend the entire holiday season in the United States. This year, I somehow wanted to come back earlier and begin 2019 by watching the sunrise in Korea.

In the United States, the New Year is an exciting holiday season to spend with family and friends. If you ask Americans about holiday traditions, they usually mention New Year’s Eve. Most Americans will be at parties on Dec. 31, waiting for a champagne toast at midnight. They will either be in Times Squares in New York for the New Year’s countdown and celebration, or watch it on television.

Most of my holiday memories are on Dec. 31, not Jan. 1. That’s why I found Korea’s New Year tradition quite interesting when I first came to Korea. When I asked my friends about the new year, many said they would go to see the first sunrise on Jan. 1 rather than go to Jonggak in cenral Seoul to see the striking of the bell. Some said that they see the sunrise at home with their family. Others said they would drive to the East Sea with friends to see the sunrise there.

I, too, began to anticipate this quiet and beautiful New Year’s tradition. The New Year’s Eve parties in the United States focus on the past: people seem to squeeze out the last remaining joy of the year on the last day. Because of these parties, many sleep in on Jan. 1. Korea’s sunrise on the New Year is just the opposite: Koreans look forward to the future. Koreans welcome the new year with courage and hope, with blushing faces and wide open eyes like the rising sun.

I want to welcome 2019 with the sunrise. Instead of clinging onto the last moment of the passing year, I want to begin another year proactively, projecting my hopes and resolutions to the sun rising over Korea in the New Year.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 26, Page 27
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