Asia | Korea, Republic of – Christmas in Korea
Well, it’s the end of Christmas Day, I’m most of the way through a bottle of red wine (imported I might add) and the snow is falling in seasonally romantic fashion outside. Despite the fact that for much of the population xmas is no big deal, it is a good excuse for a public holiday, and thus, with no commitment to work today, a group of us went out to celebrate last night. Greg, the American guy who also teaches at my institute, Yu Kyoung, one of the korean teachers, and two of her friends-Cho Nu and Yu Nyi. The sparkling neon depths of Uijungbu Old City were our oyster, and we repaired first to a quaint little cafe, where we dined sumptuously on mung bean pancakes, gimchi, bean soup, black rice, seaweed, tofu, and an assortment of unidentifiable side dishes, all of which were delightful. Next we headed to a bar in which the beer was served in giant pitchers, which were not only illuminated by multicoloured lights in the base, but also had dry ice spilling out in plumes from the top! Later we found ourselves in a traditional Korean inn, drinking Soju, the national firewater. Last nights experience was infinately preferable to my previous encounter with this stuff (last friday night) when we all had rather too much rather too quickly. Yo Kyoung passed out on the floor, Chu No passed out on the table, and I had a monumental hangover for the majority of the next day. With this still painfully in mind, I paced myself rather more carefully last night, and happily these events were not repeated. Just as I got out of the cab on my way home, the snow began to fall, and we have had a delightfully ‘white’ Christmas.
As fas as other events of late are concerned, I’ve finally started teaching, although only one or two classes a day, because the institute only has about ten students on it’s books so far. We have been engaged in tasks such as handing out flyers at local elementary schools and producing posters to try and drum up trade, so we’ll see how it goes. The classes I have taught have been great though. I’ve been teaching the alphabet, which has involved lots of singing, and ludicrous amounts of mouthing consonant sounds that don’t occur in korean, such as V and Z. It must sound like a lesson in discordant gibbering to anyone outside the room. I’m really enjoying it though, the kids are a delight, and the country gets more charming by the day, with all it’s bizarre idiosyncracies. There are for example a plethora of ways in which to incurr bad luck. If you are a shop owner or a cab driver, it’s bad luck for your first customer of the day to be a woman with glasses. It’s unlucky to write in red ink, it’s unlucky to pour your own drink (although the person opposite you is the one who suffers). This can only be negated if someone touches the glass you’re pouring into while you do it. If you pour a drink for someone older than you, it’s unlucky to use only one hand, you have to use two. With all this potential bad luck floating around, it’s no wonder 7/10 Korean marriages end up in divorce!
Anyway, that’s me for now, I’mm off to look forward to the first of my two New Years. I get 2002/3, and in Feb I get 4335/6!
Festive greetings to all…