Posts Tagged NBA

The Korean Wedding

I went to my first Korean wedding over 3 weeks ago.

When Mijin asked me if I wanted to join her for her friend’s wedding my response was an emphatic “obvi”.   During my stay, I have experienced many parts of Korean life and I figured this would be a good opportunity to bolster my cultural traditions resume. Plus, Mijin is good company. And, who doesn’t like a wedding? My favorite wedding moment came when my mom was getting remarried during the time when I had my first signs of armpit hair (an exciting time in my life). My brother Dave, who is one year older, was 16 then.  Dave isn’t a big dancer now, and was much less likely to bust a move during this pubescent stage. I forget what relative was feeding him drinks the whole night but before anyone could even do the chicken dance he was out on the dance floor grinding  with my mom’s boss’s daughter like they were at a club in Cancun. Great moment. She got grounded as a result. The next afternoon, I stood laughing outside of the bedroom door as he delivered an apology over the phone. I think I was bitter I didn’t get a dance.

The wedding was in Busan so we left Daegu on a rainy Sunday (it’s monsoon season) at 10 am. Mijin messages me that her friend will pick me up at a bank near my apartment before picking her up. I stood underneath the roof awning outside of the bank when I hear a beep from a black SUV. I run toward the car and jump in the back seat. Her friend knows very little English so we basically greet each other, exchange some words,  and  ride in silence until Mijin hops aboard. Goeun and I get to know each other as Mijin interprets. The roads are slick. We have several close calls with other cars on the road, resulting in Goeun proclaiming, “I am best driver!” I find solace in the green rice patties and rolling mountains.

We arrive at Paradise Hotel in Busan at 12:30, just in time for the start of the ceremony. Paradise Hotel is large, upscale hotel across the street from the beach. Mijin greets her friend, the bride who is sitting in a secluded room.  She looks very bride-like: white gown, hair did, the works.  The bride, who doesn’t speak English, is talking to her two long-time friends.   I look  on with a smile. The photographer motions for a photograph. I quickly move out-of-the-way when the photographer signals for me to join the picture. I refuse. She insists. I stand behind the three seated friends. Later Mijin shows me the picture that was taken with her IPhone. I look like a random guy photo-bombing the picture. I regret not giving the peace sign.

The wedding ceremony is in a spacious banquet hall. Because we don’t arrive early and the tables are not specifically designated for the guests, we have to stand along the back wall.   I survey the room, estimating about 250 people (Mijin later tells me about 400 people came and went). I am the only westerner. I don’t really feel out-of-place except that I’m wearing brown shoes with black pants. I was always told this is a cardinal sin in fashion, but Mijin assures me that it is in style now. Mijin’s outfit goes together seamlessly.

Apparently, the groom is loaded  (rich not drunk).

Up to this point, this wedding doesn’t look or feel any different from a large, upscale wedding in the States except that everyone is speaking Korean and it was a little earlier in the day. The groom walks down the aisle and the bride and her father make the stroll next.  A  man appearing in his early 30’s  with a microphone says some words that were probably much different from what I was imagining in my head unless he was indeed analyzing the looming NBA lockout. Mijin said he was giving something akin to a best man toast.  After that, an older guy (ajoshi) has some things to say. I’m not sure if he announced them husband and wife. Next, the microphone is given to a young guy seated at a table. He stands up and serenades the new couple with a song. I recognize some Korean words such as “love”, but my mind is on other things.

 I hope filet mignon is being served.

Luckily, some guests leave before lunch is doled out which means we get to sit down. Mijin and Goeun go to the stage to take part in some group photos. I watch with a glass of red wine and a bowl of mushroom soup. I am ecstatic to discover steak on the menu. Haven’t had much steak in Korea. Hard to come by.Later in the meal, the new married couple enter the room each wearing  traditional Korean garb.

They go around the room and greet each table in their flashy hanbeoks. Apparently, the couple had a short, private traditional Korean ceremony moments before. Mijin asked if I wanted to go see it. I asked if it would be more exciting than the steak and we stayed put.

At the end of the meal they served Korean wedding soup. It consisted of noodles and kimchi. Tasty.

I well understood beforehand that the wedding would only be for a couple of hours and that there would not be a long drawn out reception ceremony filled with dancing, drinks, and mingling, but as lunch was winding down  a melancholy feeling hit me. There will be no dancing. 

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Bi-winning

A few weeks ago a new foreign teacher arrived in Daegu. At our hagwon and from what I understand at every other school, all foreign English teaching positions are for one year. As every teacher has a different start date it is a revolving door of teachers coming and going throughout the year. The new teacher essentially replaced a guy who fulfilled his one-year  and is now back home in Hawaii. I’m not jealous or anything…really.

Five out of the six foreign teachers on my floor (elementary) will be leaving in May so there will be a major change in the landscape of the office during that time. I was excited to meet the new teacher because he will be here for the duration of my stay. Right now there are 11 foreign teachers in all at our school and not one female.  At our last meeting our manager promised us this would change even using this as a bargaining chip to convince some of the teachers to resign for another year:

“I know some of you have to go, but some of you should think about resign. You know, I can help with international girls. Now that I’m here we will be bringing in more women teachers. That’s part of being happy with a good vive (vibe), you know.”

Even though the latest arrival is not a chic it was still nice to meet someone new. Before he came, at our daily FT (foreign teacher) meeting we crowned him with the moniker  “Colonel”. This was not an arbitrary decision. You see, his name is Kevin, but we already have a Kevin. The new Kevin if from Canada-> Kevin From Canada->KFC->Colonel.

I like the Colonel. He is easy-going, friendly and up-beat. His arrival triggered some memories of my first few days here in Korea, like my inability to read anything at all on a restaurant menu, getting lost on a run through the city, and I will never forget the morning after trying soju for the first time. The Colonel had a rough time during his first trip downtown. You easily could have mistaken him for Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s shortly after he got his first taste of drink in a bag.

This Friday a girl from Texas will touchdown in Daegu. There is mild concern among a few that we may have to tone down the “guy talk” that has become so customary when we go for lunch or dinner. I will be sure to filter what comes out of my mouth her first few days, properly gauge the desired level of appropriateness and then go from there. I get the sense that everyone is looking forward to the new dynamic that will result from adding a female to the mix. Hopefully she grew up in a household with a lot of guys.

Our manager explained that she is attractive and that it why he hired her, pointedly assuring us that appearance is the top criterion in the hiring process.

“Guys I look at everything… beauty is important… I’m talkin’ height … weight… body type … all of that stuff.”

Side note: I  am still reeling after my favorite basketball player (Deron Williams) was traded away from my favorite team (Utah Jazz) to the lowly New Jersey Nets last week, but I am starting to come around. I tried to vent  my frustration, confusion, and uncertainty about the situation to my students but they didn’t seem concerned or the least bit interested.  How NBA player movement is not on these young Korean kids’ minds is beyond me. You should have seen their eyes roll when I began discussing the stagnant collective bargaining negotiations.

Side, side note: I spent a good part of today watching Charlie Sheen’s new interview on 20/20, perusing other random Youtube footage of Charlie talking about how “epic” his lifestyle is,  and then reading articles surrounding his career and life. When asked whether he thought that it was possible that he might be bipolar Sheen quickly responded, “I’m bi-winning… I win here, I win there.” I highly recommend you take a few minutes out of your day to watch his interview on Youtube. Epic stuff.

 

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