Chuseok Diary


I’m sitting in the living room after finishing another massive feed. My mother and father in-law are visiting, as is my brother-in-law. It’s kind of a proud moment for me. Today, I’m the man-of-the-house that is hosting the family’s Chuseok get-together. Herself doesn’t really have a big family – only her parents and one younger brother – and the majority of her parent’s brothers and sisters have lived far away for a long time so the family tend to do their own thing at Chuseok. It’s small, but cosy enough in its own way. It’s also quiet, which is also nice especially when I compare it to the frantic Christmases we have back in Ireland.

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Letter from Korea, April 2011


Suwon, South Korea
April 30, 2011

Dear Ireland,

Apologies for my lack of correspondence, I’ve been busy believe it or not. I won’t bore you with the details but I would in fact prefer to inform you of one of the reasons that I haven’t had as much time as usual to sit down and write you a lovely letter, as has been my wont for almost a year.

Recently, myself and Herself have become business people. We are proprietors. Not in the traditional sense, more in a temporary and experimental sense.

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Korea – a country that loves a good Day!


Korea is a great country for celebrating a day – Valentine’s Day, White Day and Black Day for the loved and loveless in our lives, Pepero Day for the children, then there’s an unknown amount of nattional holidays for all sorts of patriotic reasons, the most recent being Independence Day (March 1), the name of which is debatable. Being a armchair know-it-all I’m basing this on Wikipedia – which is mostly edited by 25 year old males – but when I ask any Koreans, herself included, they all say that it’s revolution day, or the day that Koreans first rose up against Japanese rule. Perhaps revolution day sounds a little to red for the the right minded over here. Incidentaly, ‘Indepedence Day’ is called ‘Liberation Day’ – can someone explain to me the difference?

What other days are there? Well it turns out there are a lot and many of them revolve around love – which is lovely.

Actually, the list of love days is long and not limited to thos described above. You might have heard about celebrations between couples celebrating their first 100 days as a couple, 백일. The connection with the fourteenth of the month and love is not limited to just the early spring months. For some reason, the fourteenth of the month is a day when you should think about your loved one or if you’re single do something depressing and dehumanising… Here’s a breakdown of days and their significance and a lover’s responsibility on that day:

January 14 is Diary day – the day you buy a diary for your boyfriend or girlfriend (I assume so that they don’t forget important days, such as the ones in this list)

February, March and April 14 have been discussed extensively elsewhere (see above for a link)

May 14 is Rose or Yellow Day – on this day you should give yellow roses to your beloved. If you didn’t manage to get hooked up on Black Day you have a second chance because today you should go and have curry and hope for the best.

A yellow rose or a yellow curry?

June 14  is Kiss Day – this one speaks for itself but I’m not sure what single people should do…

July 14 is Silver Day – This is not as you would expect and certainly cheaper too, especially for me, because on this magical day  the oldest person in the couple must pay for their date. As for single people…maybe they have to drink liquid silver or stare in a silver mirror and look depressed…

August 14 is Green Day – Lovers must venture into the forest and shower themselves with the fresh air, otherwise known as forest shower (just as well there’s no Gold Day). Single people get a better deal on this day – they should go and drink soju, the quantity of which depends on how miserable you are because you are single.

Would you prefer a walk in the wild or just to drink all of this?

September 14 is Photo (or music) Day – Avoid Samcheon-dong, Insadong, and other areas know for their cuteness and photographers because today couples should go out and take pictures together. Single people should go to a nightclub and put o…I mean dance to music they like.

October 14 is called Wine Day – This day obviously should be every day, but going with the theme this also benefits both couples and singles as couples can be romantic and eat pasta with cream or tomato sauce (as this seems to be the standard option) and singles can have Bridget Jones moments with a bottle of red and some songs from their youth played loudly.

November 14 is Movie Day – you can tell that the person who came up with this nonsense was really running out of ideas. 

December 14 is Hug Day – what better way to finalise a year of lover’s days with a nice slap in the face to all those who need a hug the most by putting up a day where lover’s should hug each other.

There are a few other days out there too, like Apple Day on October 24, which is a day to apologise because apples mean sorry. It was apparently started off to stop school violence. There are no offical statistics to offer an idea on the effectiveness of the day. There’s also Ace Day which obviously didn’t do as well as Pepero Day.

However, the day of days is coming tomorrow and one that I will certainly celebrate with vigour.

3/3 or 삼삼

Samyeopsal Day!

Yes, I will have it all for the economy's sake.

 

Fire up the barbecue, chase those vegans and leaf-eaters down the street – today is the day for supporting the poor farmers who lost their livelihoods to foot and mouth disease!

Empty Hooks?


This Friday (January 28) on the drive out to Gangneung myself and herself stopped by Jinbu in Pyeongchang to do a spot of ice fishing. “What”? you ask, as I asked my beloved also. Ice fishing – as in fishing for ice? Surely you can make your own if you’re that desperate for a gin and tonic my dear, I chuckled. This exercise could have potential if one was in a desert or somewhere hot, but travel experts will know that Korea is not hot in the winter, and as we drove through the mountains and saw all the signs for Pyeongchang 2018, I began to realise that there was something else to this ice fishing.

 

A hole in the ice

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Letter from Korea, Christmas 2010


Somewhere in Gyeonggi-do,
South Korea
9/1/2011

Dear Ireland

Christmas! Yes, Christmas. It was an interesting one to say the least. It was a busy Christmas too, but not in the usual sense because of the news delivered to me on Christmas Eve that I would be spending a week literally in lock up. I had been nominated by the powers that be to be one of the writers for a kind of mid-way entry exam to the university I work at. That’s why my Chirstmas post is coming well into 2011, and not while the tinsel still holds some facet of festive cheer. More about this later. As I said, Christmas came and went, abruptly, but not without character.

Since 2005, when I first came here, Christmas in Korea has been gradually gaining in significance. I am not really sure why to be honest though. Maybe it’s because the kids have eventually turned around and said, well it’s all well and good being sent to an English school and being filled to the brim full of Santa and Rudolph stories, but enough is enough, it’s time Santa made a stopover in Korea; how he gets down the chimney in the Remian and Lotte Castle twenty-five storey apartment buildings is a mystery beyond my powers of comprehension.

Official NORAD (whatever the jaysus that means) Santa Tracker! Truly magical!

Incidentally whilst on the subject of Santa, and completely off the point of my Christmas in Korea, on Christmas Eve I came across a website that provided a Santa tracker, which I thought was incredible but not many shared the same enthusiasm for it. When I first checked it, Old Saint Nick had had his wicked way with South Korea and was in Pyongyang. I wonder how Santa got along there and whether or not it was a busy stopover. Did Santa have to clear his identity and purpose of visit with whichever department is responsible for foreign visits in North Korea. Where did he apply for initial visa? Perhaps there is a consulate of the DPRK in the North Pole. The South Korean government can’t have been too happy with him crossing the DMZ without permission, or did he come from Japan? This can’t have curried too much favour with overly nationalist elements in either North or South Korea. I also wonder what the kids asked for; probably eternal happiness, a bunch of strippers and a container full of Crystal Champagne for Kim Jung-un.

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