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Koreans observe Lunar New Year at Flushing center

More than 100 members of Flushing’s Korean community came together Friday afternoon to celebrate the Lunar New Year in the spirit of “hyo,” the traditional Korean virtue of reverence for the elderly.

The lunch event at the Community Senior Center of Flushing featured short ribs and dduk gook, a rice cake soup Koreans eat every Lunar New Year.

The center serves $1 lunches to 80 to 120 mostly Korean seniors a day in keeping with the traditions and values of Korean society, which holds older people in the highest esteem.

“One of the underlying things here is hyo, the spirit of respecting and serving the elderly,” Sunny Hahn, vice president of the Korean American Association of Queens, said. “For Korean Lunar New Year, people eat rice cake soup ... it’s a tradition, so they decided to serve the soup to the seniors.”

The evening’s keynote speaker was state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who brought her young sons, 2-year-old Tyler and 4-month-old Brandon, along for the festivities. The day was extra-special for Brandon since he recently turned 100 days old, an important milestone in some Asian cultures.

“It’s like an Asian tradition to celebrate 100 days after the baby was born, so we decided to celebrate 100 days and the Lunar New Year at the same time,” she said. “We wanted to be here to celebrate and eat dukk gook with everyone.”

The senior center also handed out three awards to people who have helped with their mission of feeding the elderly of Flushing and providing them with a social environment.

Jeong Sook Choi has donated 50 bags of rice to the center for each of the past eight years, Kuang Hun Min donates fresh fish periodically and Pyung Yeol Park donated the food for the event. They were each presented with a plaque for their efforts.

Another special guest was Chung Byung Myon, who lives in Japan where he performs missionary work, bringing Christianity to the country’s people. His wife has worked in the senior center’s kitchen since it opened.

“He thought that because it doesn’t have much funding the program would stop soon,” Hahn said, translating for Myon. “But he believes that we should praise God because the center is still able to run.”

Local senior citizens interested in eating a $1 lunch at the Community Senior Center of Flushing can stop by 137-70 Northern Blvd. any weekday at about noon.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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