The Drawings for my Grandchildren Instagram account has more than 163,000 followers
What would steps would you take to reconnect with your grandchildren when you’ve found yourself alone on the other side of the ocean?
75-year-old South Korean grandfather Chan Jae Lee living in Brazil is now embracing the new and unfamiliar world of social media in a bid to show grandchildren his drawings who are living around the world.
At first, Chan Jae struggled to grasp the concept of modern day technology but with the help of his wife and son’s help Ji Lee, Chan Jae turned to Instagram, using his account as a storytelling tool to share the pictures he draws by hand for his beloved three grandsons.
As of today his account, Drawings for my Grandchildren, has amassed more than 163,000 followers who are captivated by his creations.
Chan Jae’s family, originally from Seoul, relocated to Sao Paulo in 1981 but changes in circumstance meant that his son Ji Lee moved to New York while his sister and her husband made the decision to return to Korea with their two sons, who were very close to Chan Jae.
In an interview, Ji Lee was quoted, “My father was retired and spending time with my nephews, like driving them to school, was a huge part of his day. After they left, he had nothing to do and that scared my mother and me. We were very worried that he would age quickly without having anything to do and would become depressed.”
His son, Ji Lee was worried about his father mental health and tried to convince him for months to draw for his grandchildren, as he had for his children, and post the pictures online to stay in touch.
“He hated the idea and just could not grasp the concept. He didn’t understand the purpose of why we wanted to share his art on Instagram but I was determined to teach him,”
“But I sat down with him every day and at dinner one night, we had a conversation about drawing for my son. That was the turning point and eventually he became more receptive to learn.” said Ji Lee
At first Chan Jae struggled with modern day technology but he eventually learnt how to use Instagram and how to use editing tools as well as hash tagging. Nowadays he is drawing at least one picture a day with his wife writing the captions accompanying each and every picture.
Kids are going to school together. “Hold my hand tight.” Dad and the big brother are making the little one feel safe. #drawing #watercolor #kids #school #dad #bigbrother Crianças indo para escola. “É preciso dar as mãos” na hora de atravessar a rua. O pai e o irmão mais velho dão a segurança. #criança #paraescola #atravessararua #paieirmao #seguranca 학교 가는 아이들. 큰길을 건너 가며 “손 꼭 잡아야 해” . 든든한 아빠, 든든한 형 #등교길 #아빠와형 #꼭잡은손
Animals, nature and everyday life are just some of the prominent themes in Chan Jae’s work with each post telling an interesting story, a lesson, or a memory. Some even carry personal messages. Chan Jae’s wife writes and translates the captions into three languages: English, Korean and Portuguese.
Two roosters are showing off their strengths in the garden. This is a pattern from a traditional Korean furniture. #drawing #watercolor #roosters #koreanfurniture Os galos estão exibindo sua força num campo de flores. Faz parte de uma estampa de um móvel tradicional coreano. #moveltradicionalcoreano #estampademovel #galos 꽃밭에서 수탉들이 힘을 자랑하고 있다. 한국의 전통 가구에 새겨진 무늬이다. # 쌈닭 #수탉 #한국전통가구 #문양
To take things a step further, Ji Lee told his father’s story through a video on Facebook which went viral, gathering more than 67,000 reactions, 28,000 shares and 4.5m views on the site.
Thousands of users on Facebook wrote about how Chan Jae’s story touched them.
“Thank you for opening the door and your arms, embracing an audience that platforms/products seldom focus on. An audience with stories so rich our next generation will be fortunate to grow with. Whilst nothing can replace a hug from Grandpa, stories, time and love transcends. Can’t love this more. ~xo~,” said May Seow.
Others like Sandra Nam thanked Ji for telling his story and inspiring her to get her mother to draw again.
“Thank you Ji for sharing this and inspiring me! Our family lives far away from each other too and I used to love my mom’s drawings growing up. Just sent it to my parents in the hopes of her drawing again. .”
Lena Sull said: “ love, love, love this story. Art with a purpose, I want to meet your dad someday! Because of him and his awesome story I started drawing (pencil only for the time being) daily. Art has always been a passion and when I heard about your dad it inspired me to do the same. I don’t have any grandchildren, not yet but I’ll be ready. Thanks for sharing!”
In a Facebook post Ji Lee, said the most rewarding part of this all was helping others around the world.
“There were hundreds of messages saying our story inspired them to speak to their own aging parents. It takes a lot of patience and empathy to teach someone like my father to see the meaning and joy of starting a project using a new technology, but for us it has been incredibly rewarding and transformational.”
Here’s a look at some of the beautiful art he’s made for his grandchildren:
Your grandma travelled to Korea by Korean Airlines. You guys went to Incheon Airport to pick her up right? This airplane is no longer flying from Korea to Brazil. Try to find out why. #drawing #watercolor #korea #koreanairlines #incheonairport #brazil A vovó foi para a Coreia pela Korean Air e acabou de voltar para o Brasil. Soube que vocês a acompanharam no aeroporto internacional de Incheon. Parece que este avião não mais virá para o Brasil. Tentem descobrir o porquê. 할머니가 대한항공을 타고 한국 갔다가 브라질로 돌아왔다. 너희들도 인천 국제공항까지 배웅 나갔었지? 이제 이 비행기, 더 이상 브라질까지 오지 못한다고 한다. 그 이유를 알아보아라.
We went to Norte Mall and we remembered you. So we went to the playground. We saw a mom and the boy who was crying. Funny right? #drawing #watercolor #playground #momandboy #crying #funny Fomos ao shopping Center Norte e lembramos de vocês. Então passamos no playland. Vimos uma criança teimando em brincar mais e a mão o puxando para ir embora. Divertido, não é? #playland #brincar #shoppingcenternortesp #crianca #divertido 쇼핑노르찌에 갔다가 너희들 생각이 나길래 윗층 놀이터로 올라 갔어. 떼를 쓰는 아이와 그만 가자는 엄마를 봤다. 재미있지? #놀이터 #엄마와아이 #떼쓰는아이
One of Brazil’s symbols is Redeeming Christ statue. Do you know which city it is, Arthur? You haven’t been there yet I think. #drawing #watercolor #criststatue O Cristo Redentor e um marco brasileiro. Você sabe em que cidade fica mas nunca foi ver, não é Arthur? 브라질의 상징이라 할 거대한 예수 동상이다. 어느 도시에 있는지 알뚤은 알텐데 못가봤지?
Follow Chan Jae’s Drawings for my Grandchildren on Instagram