11 February 2008

Light of the Moon

Last night Korea suffered a national disaster: the tragic loss of National Treasure no.1, Namdaemoon (also known as Soonglyemoon). The south gate of the original city of Seoul lit up like a torch, stripping the stones bare of it's original 600 year old wood. So far there have been many theories surrounding the cause of the fire, and Koreans are unsuprisingly in a sombre mood today, seeing as the Japanese had already pillaged and plundered everything else.

Today Songsu and I got up at 6am so that we could make our 9.30pm appointment at the UK Embassy. When we got

to the city centre a newspaper reporter followed us, asking for a foreigner's opinion of what happened last night. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to answer his questions, as we were more concerned of the events of this morning: getting all the marriage documents filled out and signed.

As of this morning, Songsu and I became officially husband and wife.

Onward with visa applications and the rest of the wedding plans!

07 February 2008

새해 복 많이 받으세요!!!!

Today is the first day of the lunar year, the Chinese year of the rat. It actually feels like a new year since for the solar/western new year my hagwon did not give us time off. However we only got two out of the three day holiday off. The first day is usually spent preparing the food (usually the woman's job), the second day spent eating the Ddok Mandu Gook breakfast, praying and bowing to elder family members to receive money. The last day is usually spent hanging out with friends at the pub. Koreans visit their parents or grandparents and sleep overnight so they can share the breakfast together on New Year's Day.

I was working on the day that is allocated for preparing the food, so Songsu's mother just bought everything at the supermarket. However she made the soup (Ddok Mandu Gook) this morning and nagged everybody to get up while she was at it. Songsu's brother got back from his last day at the army 24 hours before and I had a hangover so it was difficult for us to get up. Songsu's mother wanted her daughter-in-law (middle brother's wife) to help her this time (because usually she is pretty lazy) so I did not feel to guilty about not being able to chip in.

The bowing was equally confusing this time as it was last time, with Songsu's mother wanting I do it the proper way for a female, while his father insisting that it is all right for me to do it the male way as it is easier and more comfortable. In the end I did it the female way, with my left leg placed forward as I bent my head and back as far down as I could. Afterall, Songsu's mother usually wins and I have to bow like this at our wedding anyway.

At both Chusok (Harvest Celebration) and Sollal (Lunar New Year) the younger family members usually give very generously to the older ones. Songsu's mother is quite picky so Songsu usually gives his parents a department store voucher for W100,000. Also bosses usually give a lot to their employees, usually a huge toiletry set or food basket, but the employees then have a duty to give whatever they receive to their parents. So in reality, the bosses buy presents for the parents of their employees. Songsu's parents got the toiletry set that Jimmy gave me (but I kept the tuna^^).

The translation of the title of this post is " Receive lots of good fortune in the New Year", the Korean way of saying "Happy New Year". Songsu and I are hoping that the new year will be happier than the end of the last one. To cut a long story short, a visit to Lotteworld amusement park resulted in one of the workers staring at me in a perverted manner, and when Songsu asked "what are you looking at?" we were then followed by the worker across the amusement park museum, with profanities shouted at our backs. Songsu naturally shouted various choice words back, which lead to the worker grabbing him by the collar and raising his fist to hit him. The worker suggested several times that he should 'step outside' to 'talk' with his fist still raised, but we got out of it and walked into another shop in the museum. Unfortunately the worker followed us a second time and again threatened to drag him outside. None of the other workers tried to help us or call security.

When we finally got safely ushered out of the museum by another customer we came across a security guard who did not believe our story and after much persuasion took us to the customer service centre. When the managers arrived they too did not believe us at first. One of the managers phoned us the next day saying that the worker has been 'warned', and as it turned out they did not bother to check the CCTV. As a result Songsu wrote a four page letter of complaint to the headquarters, and the president personally contacted Songsu on the phone, apologising profusely and said that the the worker had been fired.

Songsu is still considering contacting the newspapers to suggest they research the percentage of foreign woman in Korea who have had some kind sexual attack or been followed home by a Korean man. Korean newspapers scream blue murder about the American soliders attacking young Korean women...in our opinion it's about time Korea took a good look at the opposite.