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Steeped in Korean Tradition

Richard and Haeng Cha Halsted celebrated 50 years of marriage with a special ceremony

Article by Michelle W. Parnell

Photography by Secelia Brown Photography

Originally published in Evans City Lifestyle

Fifty years ago, a young Army soldier specializing as a Korean linguists walked into a music shop in Seoul, Korea, looking for a folk music album. That day, he met a beautiful young woman who told him he would be better off in the classical music section…. and the rest is history!

At the time, Haeng Cha was an aspiring opera singer and served as manager of the music store where Richard sought out what she thought was an odd music selection. “We started an argument that day and we liked it so much that we kept on and we've been arguing for 50 years,” shares Richard.

Richard Michael Halsted and Kim Haeng Cha were married in an American ceremony on March 21, 1973, at Yongsan Main Post Chapel in Seoul, Korea. Over the next thirty years, they would travel the globe and live in the United States, Korea, and Europe before settling in Evans in 2003.

In May, the Halsteds held their fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration at First Baptist Church of Augusta, which included ninety guests and was steeped in Korean tradition that can be traced back to King Yong Jo in the late 1700’s. “Two hundred and forty years ago, one of the kings started the ceremony and we used it for our fifty-year anniversary. We are Christians so we put in a little bit of our Christian culture such as communion and the message of Jesus Christ,” shares Haeng Cha. “I started planning this a year ago and created all the designs and everything.”

For the ceremony, both Richard and Haeng Cha wore bright, colorful traditional Korean garments; Richard in blue and Haeng Cha in red, representing male and female respectively. The groom entered the ceremony holding wooden birds (bong-hwang-sae), which he presented to Senior Pastor Will Dyer in lieu of the bride’s birth parents as is customary, as a symbol of his no longer looking for a mate. The bride and groom entered to a musical rendition of the Lord’s prayer, which Haeng Cha recorded herself twenty years ago.

The ceremony also included one very special Korean tradition. “We did a full formal bow to one another, down on our knees and foreheads to the ground, as a sign of respect for each other,” shares Richard. “We did that to our spiritual parents (Kim Eui Won and Kim Yong Ok) also as a way of saying thank you for supporting us all these many years. Then we did a half-bow, or semi-formal bow, to our pastor for conducting the ceremony and to our guests at the end of the ceremony.”

Haeng Cha and Richard agree that one of the secrets to a long and happy marriage includes working together. “I have to lean on him in some areas and he has to lean on me in some areas - we have to have to help each other,” shares Haeng Cha. “Above all, if we had not been really leaning on God, I don't think we would have come this far.”

"Two hundred and forty years ago, one of the kings started the ceremony and we used it for our fifty-year anniversary."

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