Sunday 14 February 2021

Valentine's Day Special with Kim Seon-Ho [SPOILER ALERT!]

I wasn't really planning to do a V-day post, cos cliched much? Plus I've already written an ultra-sweet post some time ago on the topic of love. But while I was cooking lunch and boiling soup stock for dinner, inspiration hit me and so here goes…

First of all, hands up if you're #teamjipyeong or a fan of Kim Seon-Ho - cos I am! Along with millions of others around the globe, we noticed his charming dimpled smile in Start-Up and couldn't help but be drawn in by his superb acting skills (probably due to his stage experience). Many of us have also gone on a trek through k-drama archives to watch his previous works, like Catch the Ghost

So while ruminating on what love meant for the KSH characters in these two series, I realised that to both Ji-Pyeong in Start-Up and Ji-Seok in Catch the Ghost, love meant laying down one's life for the one you love. 


There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

John 15:13


In Ji-Pyeong's case, it's at the point when he realises that he hadn't been willing to give up his status and successful track record for Dal-Mi (Bae Suzy) where he concedes defeat to his rival Do-San (Nam Joo-Hyuk) who quit his well-paid Silicon Valley job to help Dal-Mi fulfil her dream.

On the other hand, Ji-Seok, who was initially reluctant to risk his own well-being for his new partner, Ryeong (Moon Geon-Young) reaches an epiphany when he confides to his mother that he would do anything to protect Ryeong as she is precious to him. 

Love bears all things, ... endures all things. 

1 Corinthians 13:7

However, it's not only in the life-threatening cops and robbers chase scenes that Ji-Seok displays his selfless love. We already found out early on in the series that he had foregone brilliant prospects in the police force for a mundane job as a subway police chief, in order to not only pay for his mother's nursing home bills but more importantly to ensure that he would stay unharmed and alive as he was the sole family member left to care for his mother.

He even has to disguise himself as his late father when visiting her because she is suffering from dementia and thinks of herself as her 17yo self who's being courted by her husband-to-be. He does all this without complaint despite the fact that she doesn't remember him at all and addresses him as ahjussi (uncle) whenever he appears before her without his usual get-up.

Which brings me back to making lunch and boiling soup stock... for I put in the effort to prepare my children's favourite dishes regardless of how much I dislike cooking because of my love for them. This same motivation is true for mothers who sacrifice promising careers to be stay-home moms as well as those who work full-time jobs to provide for the family while also playing the role of homemaker after work. It is in the willingness to lay down your life, by putting the needs of your loved ones before your own, that true love is shown. 

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:5b

Although Ji-Seok is willing to put his life on the line for Ryeong, it is hard for her to accept his affections. The turning point comes when he defends her before her colleagues. They blame her for her sister's abduction by the serial murderer as she had abandoned her autistic twin on the train. Ji-Seok understands that it was a momentary slip as she had reached breaking point after having been the lone caregiver for her sister since they were 10yo. It is this act of grace that finally convinces Ryeong of his love for her.

Their love is not an inward-focused lovey dovey thing though, as they continue to fight the baddies and save the world together after they start dating. In fact, Ji-Seok becomes braver and more dynamic as a leader by drawing on the strength that Ryeong gives him. In addition, even those colleagues who had previously bullied her are so inspired by her sacrificial love for her sister that they also spring into action readily when called upon to help her find her missing twin.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 

Hebrews 10:24

So let us also take our inspiration from Christ who first loved us and gave His life for us, and go love our neighbours as ourselves. And may His love that flows through us not only lead others to know Him but also be willing to lay down their own lives to love others. After all, that is the real meaning of Valentine's Day!

Friday 12 February 2021

Chinese New Year 2021 Reflections (2/2)

During this season, it's very common to hear greetings like 万事如意 (all things go according to your desires) and 心想事成 (whatever you wish in your heart will be realised). 

So some Christians have tried to justify these two greetings by referring to the second half of Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."

However, by looking at the other common Chinese New Year greetings, we soon discover what these desires and wishes might be:
恭喜发财 (hope you will strike it rich)
黄金满堂 (your rooms will be filled with gold)
财源广进 (wealth and success flowing in)
大吉大利 (great fortune and success)
年年有余 (overflowing abundance every year)

Could wealth, success and prosperity be the desires that God wants to fulfil? So all we need to do is just spend some time in prayer and maybe read the Bible, and He would grant us whatever we wish for? Wouldn't that then make God into a genie in a lamp?!

I've written before about how Psalm 37:4 is more than just a transactional relationship with God, but that in fact when we truly enjoy spending time with Him then He will transform us so our desires are aligned with His will. And that is when He would gladly fulfil our desires.

Today, I received another insight into this verse. Could it be that actually the innermost desires of our heart were already programmed into us at creation by God? Perhaps one of the deepest desires that we all have even from the womb is to be known and loved. Another could be to discover and achieve our purpose in life.

Yet we have been deceived into thinking that wealth, fame, success and power are what we really want. Just like how the devil tried to tempt Jesus into believing that these things were better than worshipping God (cf. Matthew 4:1-11).

So the only way we can be fulfilled is when we spend time with God to find out what these desires are and have them met by Him. Maybe that's what Psalm 37:4 really means.

So instead of worshipping the golden calf (cf. Exodus 32) like the world does in the hope of getting our selfish desires granted, in this Year of the Ox, let us worship the One who willingly bore our yoke. Only then can the innermost desires of our hearts be restored, and we'll find true contentment in Him.

Chinese New Year 2021 Reflections (1/2)

To all our beloved Chinese family and friends, a very blessed Chinese New Year to you!!

During our reunion dinner last night, my mom told a very interesting origin story of the yusheng (a raw fish salad that is tossed corporately while speaking out auspicious sayings before being eaten). 
In 1942, Singapore was being attacked by the Japanese in the days leading up to CNY so they couldn't celebrate with the usual visiting/feasting with family and friends. But after the British surrender, things quietened down and a few famous chefs of the time decided to chop up whatever ingredients they had and created the modern day version of yusheng.

The name 鱼生 (raw fish) sounds like 余生 (those who are left alive) so it was a celebration for having survived the attacks. I thought it's very appropriate for us as well since we can also be grateful for having lived through COVID-19 so far.

Even as we thank God for protecting and sustaining us, let us live our lives in such a way that can be counted worthy of His grace! And even though we can't shout auspicious sayings while tossing yusheng this year due to COVID restrictions, let us not stop declaring His wonderful works and giving Him glory for all that He has done and will continue to do!

Disclaimer: as with all oral history, I can't vouch for the historical/factual accuracy of the above story. 😅