Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite photos. It’s not one of my favorites because it has excellent composition or because it depicts a fantastic cultural relic. Instead, it’s one of my favorite photos because it makes me smile every time I see it.
For those of your who aren’t familiar with the 1990s American TV show Family Matters, it was a show that followed an African-American family in Chicago, Illinois and their incredibly dorky neighbor Steve Urkel. To many kids from my generation, Urkel is the very definition of a nerd.
This past fall I was touring Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea. This fantastic temple will no doubt be featured at some point on this blog, but today’s picture doesn’t feature the beautiful temple grounds, the magnificent statues, or the jaw-dropping views. Instead it features a boy.
Out of the thousands of other tourists flocking to see one of Korea’s most popular tourist sites was a young boy, no older than 11 or 12. As he posed for a picture next to one of the temples buildings, he caught my eye. Dressed in blue high-water pants, yellow suspenders, a red-stripped shirt, and red glasses, a big smile crept across my face. I had finally found someone who defined everything that was Steven Urkel.
While it might be hard to believe, I don’t mean that as an insult at all. Urkel was a lovable character because of his dorkiness. Not only was he incredibly smart, but he was also very self-assured. There was no hint on this boy’s face that he was embarrassed by his clothes, even in the fashion conscious culture of South Korea. Instead, he had just come out for a nice day with his family, posing in front of the temple with the characteristic south Korean peace sign. He was, in that moment, the Korean Urkel.