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NFL Star Returns to His Land of Birth

Posted April. 04, 2006 02:59,   


NFL star Hines Ward arrived at Incheon International Airport yesterday. It was his first visit to his homeland in 29 years since leaving in 1977. After being swarmed by reporters and getting separated from his mother, Kim Young-Hee (55), he shouted, “Please take care of my mom.”

“It’s very pretty. I want to see everything about Korea. The hospital I was born in, where I lived with my mom for a while. Korea is my background. Korean food and culture, travel, shopping, everything,” Ward said afterwards.

Ward, wearing a black hat, black sunglasses, and silver earrings, never lost his smile. He hugged his mother and smiled every chance he had. It is a homeland he doesn’t even have memories of, yet he seemed to be enjoying his visit.

Ward’s visit is the result of a promise to his mother. He had wanted to visit Korea with her, who worked three jobs a day to raise him. The chance to do so finally came this spring. Ward said, “Timing was important. I had wanted to visit Korea, but the situation did not allow it. Park Chan-Ho told me to enjoy Korea. Next time I will come with my entire family.”

His mother, Kim, who visited Korea three years ago to meet relatives, said, “It’s so good to come with my son.” Seeing her son so happy at coming to Korea, she said, “I’m happy to be in Korea with my son. I want to eat jjambbong together.”

Ward says that although he lived as an American, he has never forgotten that Korean blood runs through his veins. He had planned to visit Korea quietly with his mother, but after he became MVP of the Super Bowl this February, he found himself in the spotlight.

Ward is expected to attend events for mixed-race children such as himself, in an effort to bring attention to their needs and concerns. Ward said, “It’s not embarrassing to be born mixed-race. What’s embarrassing is discriminating against mixed-race people,” and added, “I want to encourage young mixed-race children.”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com