This 75 year old Grandpa learned to draw again for this one reason

Chan Jae‘s drawings tell a sweet real-life story of how art and the web can connect people around the globe.

The popular photo app Instagram alongside a 75-year-old Korean grandfather’s artistic skills helped a family bound despite the distance and language or cultural differences.

The Lee family originally moved to Brazil from Korea in the 80s when their oldest son was only 10, seeking the dream of better days. When they had lived in Korea, Chan Jae loved to draw for his children, but he had to put his passions aside to support his family in the new country.

The kid’s favorite drawing. “For AAA” means “For Arthur, Allan, and Astro”.

Today, his Instagram account features his drawings and his wife’s stories written in 3 different languages.

The “grumpy” grandfather, as his son calls him, spent years without practicing his hobbies, focusing on working and providing a good life for them. Fortunately, all of that changed thanks to the power of the internet!

The drawings went viral for how relatable the story behind them is to most people these days: who doesn’t have a relative, a close friend, or a lover living far away? The best way to remain close at heart is through the internet.

It’s really an amazing world. Since we can talk looking at each other, it doesn’t feel like you are far away. When Arthur saw grandpa’s photo on Messenger and said “why is your tummy so big?” I got a little bit nervous. I’ll eat more carefully and I’ll also exercise more. Also, our smart Astro who sees me on video chats, will keep grandpa in your mind and heart, right? It makes me happy knowing that when we meet again next time, you won’t say “who is this old man?” All families must have talked to each other like this during the new year. #drawing #watercolor #videochat #grandpa #heart #families Que mundo surpreendente! Nem parece que estamos longe um do outro já que podemos falar nos olhando. Levei um susto quando outro dia o Arthur escreveu no messenger “Por que a barriga do vovô cresceu tanto?” depois de ver uma foto que mandamos. Vou procurar cuidar mais da alimentação e farei mais exercícios físicos, combinado? E o nosso pequeno Astro vai poder clicar na cabeça e no coração ao continuar me vendo pelo video chat, certo? E assim no nosso próximo encontro não vai ficar se perguntando quem é esse velhinho? Provavelmente muitas famílias devem ter dado as felicitações do ano novo assim. 참으로 놀라운 세상이다. 얼굴을 보며 이야기를 하니 멀리 있는 것 같질 않구나. 하루 전 날 메신저로 사진을 본 알뚤이 “할아버지, 배가 왜 많이 나왔어요?” 하고 물었을 때 찔끔 놀랐다. 먹는 것 더 조심하고, 운동 열심히 할게. 또 총명한 우리 아로는 화상통화로 할아버지를 계속해서 보며 가슴에다 머리에다 클릭하겠지? 다음에 만나도 “누구지? 이 노인은?”하지 않을 테니 정말 좋다. 모든 집들이 다 이렇게 쉽게 새해 인사 나누었을 거야. #화상통화

Uma publicação compartilhada por Chan Jae Lee (@drawings_for_my_grandchildren) em

This touching journey had its first spark when Chan Jae’s son, designer Ji who is currently living in New York, tried to convince his father to begin drawing again. It was out of worry since the old man was falling ill and unmotivated to do much ever since his grandchildren moved to Korea.

“From then on there was an emptiness in my heart.”

Chan Jae

Chan Jae is now retired and his daily job was to drive his grandchildren to school. They were incredibly close so when his daughter and 2 sons moved to Korea, he was left blue and would spend his days watching Korean TV. There wasn’t much else he could do.

One of the graphics Ji used to tell her fathers story. / Source: Facebook

That’s when Ji remembered his childhood days,

“I remembered when I was a kid, my dad used to draw for us. So I thought he could draw again and post it on Instagram. He hated the idea! He never heard of Instagram. Never used email. Not even Google!”

– Chan Jae’s son, Ji

But it was only when the pair traveled from Brazil to New York to meet their youngest grandson, Ji’s son Astro, that the idea went from black and white to full colors.

Chan Jae pictured here with his new grandson, Astro. / Source: Instagram

The family realized how the distance was taking its toll on Mister Lee when he wondered what Astro would be when he grew up to which Ji asked “Why?”, and the father simply stated: “Because I won’t be around anymore”.

“I was sad because the idea of my dad’s death became much more real after this talk.”

Ji Lee

That’s was when Ji had a great idea!

Chan Jin started drawing every day. “He has made hundred of drawings and hasn’t stopped”, according to Jin. Practicing his passion has helped him forget the pain caused by shingles. He was still having a hard time with the apps, but thankfully, his wife was an avid technology user!

Chan Jae and his wife, Marina work together now to create drawings for their grandchildren. / Source: Instagram 

His wife, Marina, taught Korean Literature back in her country and is a very talented writer. Her stories are written in Korean and translated to Portuguese and English, and helped people from all around the world to fall in love with the Lee Grandparents.

Wow! Grandpa’s drawings were introduced to entire Brazil. Very beautifully. Arthur, Allan, you guys know on Sunday night, it was on Brazilian TV, on channel 5, in Globo’s “Fantástico,” right? So please let us know how you felt, ok? Grandpa and grandma were really really impressed. We knew the creativity of Brazilian people, but while we were watching the program, we were constantly Wow! Wow! They animated the drawings! And “likes” for drawings_for_my_grandchildren exploded like crazy. #drawing #watercolor #grandpa #brazil #grandma #brazilianpeople #program Uau! A história do vovô foi apresentada em rede nacional. E foi maravilhoso. Arthur! Allan! Vocês sabem que saíram também na TV brasileira no “Fantástico” da Globo? Então me digam como se sentiram. Sem falta, viu! Nós ficamos muito surpresos. Já sabíamos da criatividade dos brasileiros mas não conseguíamos parar de dizer “Uau!” “Uau!” com os olhos fixos na tela. Eles fizeram os desenhos se mexerem. E então o número de seguidores explodiu no drawings_for_my_grandchildren. 와! 할아버지의 그림이 브라질 전국에 소개되었다. 너무도 멋있게. 알뚤. 알란. 너희도 브라질 TV 채널 5의 일요일 저녁 《환타스치꼬》에 나온거 알지? 그럼, 느낌을 말해 줘. 꼭! 할아버지와 할머니는 정말 정말 놀랬어. 브라질 사람들의 창의성을 이미 알고 있었지만 화면을 보면서 계속 와! 와! 했단다. 그림을 움직이게 해줬잖아? 그러자마자 drawings_for_my_grandchldren 에 좋아요가 엄청나게 폭발했어

Uma publicação compartilhada por Chan Jae Lee (@drawings_for_my_grandchildren) em


Arthur and Allan, Ji’s other sons, always interact with Chan Jae and his drawings. When he draws them, “It makes us feel like he’s there with us”, said one of the boys. There are photos of their daily life, Brazilian events, Korean culture, and much more.

“People can see the true love in each drawing. They all became grandchildren to my father. And that’s what I find so amazing!”

Chan Jae’s Daughter, Miru

The project was named Drawings For My Grandchildren and has reached over 200 thousand followers. Thanks to this creative solution, the family chats every single day!

Now the whole family is able to communicate.

Now, Chan Jae and Marina spend their time looking for inspiration for their art.

His son posted a video on his Facebook account about how it all unveiled:

Check some of the drawings and stories:

There are so many flying butterflies right? I remember running to try to catch them during my summer vacations. It was a school’s home work. In Korea, there were many yellow and white butterflies. When I saw a colorful one, my heart would beat faster. I was so amazed to see blue ones when we came to Brazil.#drawing #watercolor #butterfly #brasilbutterfly #bluebutterfly Quanta borboleta voando, né? Me lembrei de uma época que saía correndo por aí caçando borboletas nas férias de verão. Era para a lição de férias. Na Coreia tinha muita borboleta amarela e branca. De vez em quando aparecia uma borboleta toda colorida e meu coração batia forte. Vocês não sabem como fiquei surpreso quando vi borboletas azuladas quando cheguei no Brasil. #borboleta #borboletaazulada 나비들이 참 많이도 날고 있지? 여름 방학이면 나비를 잡으러 이리저리 뛰어 다녔던 게 생각난다. 여름방학 숙제였는데 한국엔 노랑 나비. 흰나비가 제일 많았어. 어쩌다 호랑나비를 보면 가슴이 두근거렸어. 브라질 와서 파란 빛이 나는 나비를 보고 얼마나 놀랐는지 몰라. #나비 #브라질파란나비

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You guys know where grandpa goes everyday, right? It’s the Luz Park. People walk, exercise, seat around, and there are also many people who play guitar and sing. Yesterday, I noticed three people seated on the bench. I hoped and prayed the beautiful Bossa Nova melody would comfort many Brazilians who are going through a difficult day. #drawing #watercolor #guys #grandpa #luzpark #guitar #bench #bossanova #brazilians Vocês sabem onde o vovô vai todos os dias, não é? Sim, é o Parque da Luz. Lá tem pessoas passeando, se exercitando ou que ficam sentadas à toa mas também tem pessoas que ficam cantando tocando violão. Ontem três pessoas que estavam sentadas no banco me chamaram a atenção. Rezei por dentro desejando que o difícil dia a dia dos brasileiros seja consolado pelas lindas notas da bossa nova. 할아버지가 매일 가는 곳이 어디인지 너흰 알지? 루스 공원이다. 산책하는 사람, 운동하는 사람, 그냥 앉아 있는 사람, 그런데 기타를 치며 노래하는 사람도 많다. 어제는 벤치에 앉아 있는 세 사람이 눈에 들어왔어. 브라질 사람들의 힘든 하루가 보사노바의 아름다운 가락으로 위로가 되었으면 하고 기도했다.

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Astro is looking out the window. Looks like he’s been there a long time. Grandpa knows very well what he’s thinking. He’s thinking about grandma and grandpa who used to play with him all day. Oh, what a squeeze in my heart … #drawing #watercolor #window #astrosthinking O Astro está olhando a janela. Parece que ele está lá faz tempo. O vovô sabe muito bem o que ele está pensando. Ele está pensando na vovó e no vovô que ficava brincando com ele o dia todo. Ai que aperto no coração… #janela 지금 아로가 창밖을 내다 보고 있다. 꽤 오랫동안 보고 있는 것 같애. 무슨 생각을 하는지 이 할아버지는 안다. 하루 종일 놀아주던 할아버지, 할머니를 생각하는 거지. 가슴이 찌르르해 온다. #기다림 #창가에서

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Arthur is walking while imitating grandpa. Back in May 2012, grandpa got sick with shingles. The rash went from my left chest, armpit and my back. In the beginning, I thought it was a stomach flu and I tried to tough it out, and I lost the opportunity to treat it in the beginning. I ended up suffering an excruciating pain which only those who went through know. I’m a lot better these days, but often I still feel the pain to the point I need to press my chest with my palm. While I’m focused on drawing, I can forget the pain and I’m thankful for that. #drawing #watercolor #pen #shingles #grandpasreminiscence Um dia qualquer de maio de 2012, Arthur está andando enquanto imita o vovô. O vovô ficou doente com herpes zoster. A dor foi dominando desde o peito esquerdo, axilas até as costas. No começo achei que era algum tipo de intoxicação alimentar e achei que passaria se aguentasse, nessa acabei perdendo a oportunidade de tratar a doença no tempo certo resultando numa dor terrível que só aqueles que passaram sabem. O vovô está muito melhor esses dias, mas tem vezes que ainda sinto a dor e é preciso pressionar o peito com a palma. Enquanto estou focado em desenhos, posso esquecer a dor e eu sou grato por isso. #recordacaodevovo #herpeszoster 할아버지를 흉내내며 걷고 있는 알뚤, 2012년 5월 초 어느 날. 할아버지가 대상포진에 걸렸다. 왼쪽 가슴에서 겨드랑이를 지나 뒷등에 이루는 고통의 띠, 처음엔 식중독인 줄 알고 참고 있다가 그만 치료시간을 넘기는 바람에 무서운 고통에 빠져야 했다. 아파 본 사람만이 아는 고통. 지금은 많이 나아졌지만 자주 가슴을 움켜쥐어야 할 정도로 아픔이 공격한다. 그림에 몰두하는 동안은 잊을 수 있으니 이를 고마워할 따름이다. #대상포진 #흉내내는손자 #할아버지의회상

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Right now, wherever you go in São Paulo, you meet these trees. Light purple, deep purple, pink… Although it’s the same tree, there are many colors, and it’s beautiful. Its name is “Quaresma” (Lent). It was named this way because it blossoms during the time of observance of death and resurrection of Christ. On mountains and streets, it’s all “Quaresmas.” #drawing #watercolor #saopaulo #trees #quaresma Esta é uma árvore que pode ser encontrada em qualquer canto de SP no momento. Rosa clara, rosa pink, lilás… é muito lindo a mistura de tantas cores na mesma árvore. O nome dela é Quaresmeira. Lhe deram este nome pois o florescimento se dá na época em que se pensa na morte e na ressurreição de Jesus Cristo. Seja nas montanhas, nas calçadas e nos parques, só se vê Quaresmeiras. #arvore #quarezmeira 지금 쌍빠울로 어디에서나 만나게 되는 꽃나무이다. 연분홍색, 진분홍색, 보라색, ….같은 나무인데 꽃색깔이 여러 가지여서 참 보기가 예뻐. 이름은 꽈레즈마. 예수님의 죽음과 부활을 생각하는 때에 피어난다고 해서 붙여진 이름이래. 산에도 거리에도 공원에도 온통 꽈레즈마란다.

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Source: Ji Lee