Joanna Gaines is sharing her parents' love story — with all its ups and downs — on the final episode of her podcast.
On Monday's episode of The Stories We Tell with Joanna Gaines, the Magnolia Network star, 44, invites her mom, Nan, on to talk about the moment she first met her dad. The two crossed paths while Joanna's dad, Jerry, was serving at a U.S. military base in Nan's home country of South Korea during the early 1970s.
"You guys were at a party," Joanna says, referencing the moment her parents first met. Her mom says yes but quickly gets shy about the type of party it was. "Oh, who cares, everybody knows. She likes the Beatles — it was a pot party. It's fine," Joanna reveals.
After a bit of laughter, Nan adds that she told her friend at the party, "I'm going to marry that guy," pointing to Jerry, who at the time was sporting a long haircut, "John Lennon glasses" and bell-bottom jeans.
Nan recalls how she and Jerry started to spend time together in the coming months until he was set to head back home in November 1971. Two weeks before his departure, Jerry told her, "I think I'm in love with you," and Nan could not contain her excitement.
After exchanging letters for about six months after that, Jerry finally asked for her hand in marriage and included a plane ticket to the United States.
"I can't imagine the idea of a 19-year-old little girl getting on a plane, flying to America," Joanna says, "Dad picks you up in his VW Bug in San Francisco. You get married on the courthouse steps in your cutoff jean shorts, tank top, all the things. You drive all the way from there to Wichita to start your life."
She continues, "The first year was rough because dad was into drugs."
Her mom agrees that the beginning of their marriage came with difficulties, especially because they were "broke," she says. After receiving backlash from her parents for marrying an American soldier, not taking a photo on their wedding day, and feeling she had to compete with the American women in her new home, Nan says — the beginning of her married life was not what she pictured.
Later in the episode, the mother-daughter duo get emotional after Joanna apologizes to her mom for not fully embracing her Korean heritage earlier in her life.
"I don't know that I ever told you this," Joanna says as she holds back tears, "but I always wanted to say I was sorry for living in halfness. And not fully embracing the most beautiful thing about myself, which was you."
In a November cover story, she told PEOPLE that her time spent in Koreatown in New York City when she was 21 years old was an eye-opening experience for her, as it helped her overcome the insecurity she felt growing up regarding her heritage.
"I saw more people that looked like me than ever before," she said. "I left really understanding the beauty and uniqueness of Korean culture and for the first time I felt whole, like this is fully who I am and I'm proud of it."