In Korea, families are divided into clans. And each clan has a genealogy book called a jokbo that records their history. The jokbo is passed down through generations through the firstborn male line, while others inherit copies of the book.
I know roughly how far back my family heritage extends. Many claim my first Korean ancestor on my father’s side came from China. They say the founder was the 67th generation descendant of the grandson of King Wen of the Zhou dynasty (1046 BC – 256 BC). But the claim is so old, it can’t be verified.
The second Queen consort of Joseon Dynasty’s first monarch, Queen Shindeok, is somewhere in my family line.
My mother’s clan is also an old Korean one. They too have a long list of important people who made their mark, for better or worse, on that country.
I think they had a 400 year old feud with another clan that ended in March 2008. So I guess that’s where I get my stubbornness and ability to hold a grudge.
There was a moment with my maternal grandfather that I wish I remembered more clearly.
My grandfather had a guest. He called me over to where they were. And before them were pictures of ancient men.
“Take a look at this child,” my grandfather said. “They are your ancestors.”
I passed a brief look over their portraits and then promptly left to play. I think after his guest had left, my grandfather asked me what I thought, because I distinctly remember replying:
“I don’t know why people are interested in their ancestry so much. Shouldn’t we be concentrating on the living?”
I was young. And looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so rude. I wish I had understood my grandfather’s desire to pass on the richness of my Korean heritage to me. That no matter how difficult life got in foreign lands, I had the blood of noblemen and royalty running through me.
But here I am now in my 40s, understanding the importance of the past and wanting to pass on that heritage to a son who is more interested in computer games.
If only I could, I’d like to reassure my grandfather, that I am indeed grateful for the history of my clan. But I can’t. He died many years ago.
I’d also love to tell him that I have found a new identity in Christ. And when we’re before the King of Kings on the last day, we’ll be so joyful that who we were in this life will pale in comparison to the richness of being with God, the great creator who spoke the universe into being.
It doesn’t matter if we’re from the line of kings or paupers. It really doesn’t matter, because if we’re Christian, we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all on an equal footing before Jesus who calls us to share in his inheritance with him. (Romans 8:17)
I just find that wonderful.
For Bloganuary – Day 8. How far back in your family tree can you go?