Buffalo Couple Who Sheltered Korean Travelers Reunite With Them in Seoul

2 weeks ago 47

Months aft a South Korean circuit radical landed astatine their upstate New York doorstep during a snowstorm, the mates who hosted them received a heroes’ invited successful Seoul.

A radical  of radical   astir   a eating  array  scope   guardant  to clink champagne glasses successful  celebration.
Alexander and Andrea Campagna, little right, celebrating with immoderate of the travelers to whom they gave refuge during the Christmastime blizzard successful upstate New York, on with members of the Korea Tourism Organization. Credit...Diane Kang for The New York Times

Christine Chung

May 20, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET

About 5 months ago, successful the mediate of a deadly and ferocious blizzard, Alexander and Andrea Campagna answered a sound connected the doorway of their location adjacent Buffalo. Outside were 10 South Korean travelers whose van had go stuck successful the snowfall connected their street. The Campagnas welcomed the stranded travelers in, and, successful doing so, provided a much-shared communicative of compassion and bully volition during a vicious tempest conscionable earlier Christmas.

On Thursday, the Campagnas were successful Seoul, the South Korean capital, touring immoderate of the city’s astir historical sights, marveling astatine the painted wood beams buttressing the curved roofs astatine Gyeongbokgung, a sprawling palace built successful the precocious 14th century. Under a hazy sun, they strolled done Gwanghwamun Square, a plaza that serves arsenic the beating bosom of the city’s civic life, wherever they learned astir Korean heroes who walked connected this onshore centuries ago.

They were astir a week into a 10-day all-expenses paid circuit of the metropolis arsenic guests of the Korea Tourism Organization, to reward their generosity and beforehand tourism to Korea arsenic well.

“It’s benignant of a storybook concern that you could not person scripted,” Mr. Campagna, 40, said, successful an interrogation astatine a cafe connected the Gyeongbokgung grounds.

The authorities sought to item a wide scope of Korean manufacture and culture, and to showcase the country’s earthy beauty, said Kim Jang-Sil, the president of the tourism organization. Most of all, helium said, helium hoped to amusement the Campagnas the “warmhearted kindness” of the South Korean people.


At the reunion luncheon successful Seoul, Kim Jang-Sil, the president of the Korea Tourism Organization, presents a acquisition to the Campagnas. Credit...Diane Kang for The New York Times

The Campagnas had been welcomed arsenic heroes. They sat for interviews with section media and filmed a promotional tourism video. They were feted by the Korean government, hosted astatine the Four Seasons, welcomed astatine Michelin-recommended restaurants and whisked distant connected backstage tours of the city’s attractions. There was a upland hike, a sojourn to Buddhist temple, a trek to the Demilitarized Zone that splices the peninsula successful 2 and of course, galore delicious meals, including a Korean barbecue feast.

And they’d been reunited with six of the South Korean tourists they’d spontaneously invited into their location that snowy vacation play months ago. This clip they met astatine a sun-filled edifice successful a accepted Korean location overlooking Changdeokgung Palace, different expansive Joseon dynasty royal home.

Tears were shed arsenic they encountered each different again. Guests and hosts alike, channeled done an interpreter, spoke of the gratitude they felt. They called each different lifelong friends and repeatedly emphasized that it felt similar destiny to person met.

The rescued travelers recalled their alleviation upon seeing a atom cooker astatine the Campagnas’ home. “When I opened the refrigerator, it felt similar it was made for us,” said Park Gun Young, who stayed astatine the Campagna residence with his woman and daughter.

Mrs. Campagna, 43, said that contempt having nary humor ties to the country, Korea has been a portion of the couple’s root communicative from the beginning. On their archetypal day 7 years ago, they ate bibimbap and stir-fried pork astatine a section Korean edifice successful Buffalo.

In the months since that vacation weekend, the mates said they received an immense outpouring of gratitude from well-wishers adjacent and far. There was adjacent a twelvemonth of escaped fried chickenhearted from a Korean barbecue franchise. Mrs. Campagna said that the response, which she called “profoundly moving,” showed that the satellite was “hungry for a heartwarming story” successful a quality rhythm that is typically thing but.

Over a four-course meal, including soy-braised beef stew, lotus wraps with spicy soybean paste and cocoa éclairs filled with yuzu cream, the reunited radical reminisced astir the wintertime play that had brought them together.

The Campagnas, beaming, presented their erstwhile houseguests with gifts of Christmas ornaments emblazoned with an representation of their location blanketed successful snow. Mrs. Campagna had designed the ornaments particularly for the occasion.

“We bonded truthful overmuch with them,” Mrs. Campagna said. “It was similar reuniting with family.”


The Campagnas are fans of Korean nutrient but had ne'er been to the state before. As portion of their trip, they explored Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace.Credit...Diane Kang for The New York Times

On the tour, the Campagnas, who had ne'er visited Korea before, said they had been afloat immersed successful Korean culture. They’d learned astir the conception of jeong, a feeling of compassion and warmth that grows successful a adjacent relationship, thing they said they felt with their guests.

They besides heard astir inyeon, oregon fate. The vacation play had turned them into believers. One of the mysteries of the communicative has been however the stranded Korean travelers ended up astatine the doorway of the 1 location successful the country that was apt to beryllium stocked with Korean condiments similar gochujang, oregon spicy reddish chili paste, and chamgileum, oregon sesame oil, and capable nutrient and proteins to navigator Korean nutrient for everyone.

“How did they extremity up connected our thoroughfare successful Buffalo? In a location wherever we happened to emotion cooking Korean cuisine and person those spices?” Mrs. Campagna asked. “How did that each happen?”

Then she answered her ain questions: “Fate,” she said.

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