Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday Lunch with a Korean Family and the Rest of the Week



We were lucky enough to be invited to the home of a Korean family. Curt (hubby) works with their daughter and the mom is the one who came over for polymer clay lessons a month ago. She was returning the favor and she would teach me hanji. We eat lunch there and I can honestly say I haven't seen that much food except for an American all you can eat buffet. It was delicious and we ate our fill. We spent the afternoon talking and the mom showed me all the things she had made with hanji. I wanted to take pictures but I didn't know if it would be impolite so I refrained. She made many boxes and even a had made a dresser. She brought out a bunch of unframed flowers made of hanji. I thought they were painted. She asked me to pick out my favorite and she is having it framed as a gift. I can't wait to see it.
An interesting story, when the brother went off to fulfill his mandatory (26 months at the time) military duty, his mother took to her bed for a whole week. She was just devastated and worried that something would happen to him. He finished his military duty and is finishing up college right now. His English is quite good.
Time flew with the constant flow of food and drink. We never did get around to crafting so we decided that she would come over to my place on Thursday. More about that later.
It was a great start to a week that went downhill from there. On Wednesday, I was leaving the elevator to walk to Home Plus (like a Super Target) to do some grocery shopping. The elevator doors opened and I encountered an older Korean woman. She saw me, gave me a look of shock and horror and proceeded to back up into the wall of the building. She was clearly terrified. I tried to say I was sorry knowing she didn't understand and then finally proceeded on my way, a little shook up.
When I arrived at the store, I made my way to the moving escalator and noticed I was right behind a Korean mom with her daughter. They were having some sort of disagreement (from the tone of their voices) and then the mom hit her daughter on her forehead with an closed fist. I was shocked (to say the least) and the argument continued between the two, then a second pop from the mom. Both punches were hard enough to snap the daugher's head back. Oh geez, I know I'm in Korea but it was impossible to witness the brutality. Then the mom hit her a THIRD time and that was it for me, Korea or not! I said, "Don't HIT your DAUGHTER!" They both turned to me and the mom started spieling a bunch of Korean. I just stood there and didn't say a word to her but kept me eyes on her the entire time until the escalator ended. I went my way and I'm not sure where they went. I was a little worried that the mom was going to hit me but she never raised her hand (or fist) to me. This whole episode was maybe 20-30 seconds although it's seemed a lot longer at the time.
I did my grocery shopping and wouldn't you know it, almost every aisle I came to the end of, I ran into a Korean man. Luckily, they didn't seem mad or shocked, they just waited for ME to get out to their way. I was never so glad to get home. I stayed at home Thursday and Friday, I wanted to avoid any unpleasantness.
I've spoken to a couple of Koreans about both incidents and they came to the same conclusions. The lady waiting for the elevator probably has never seen a Westerner and was just plain terrified. It's really freaky to have that effect on anyone. The second incident they thought was most unfortunate (ya think) and it is somewhat unusual to hit your child in public, but not unheard of.
This incident made me think of my Korean friend who I had lunch with recently. She wanted to take piano lessons again after quitting them when she was a child. I asked why she had quit. Did she just get tired of practicing or didn't like it anymore. No, she quit because she was tired of the being hit. Every time she made a mistake, her piano teacher would hit her knuckles with a stick and she went home with swollen and sore hands. I didn't know what to say to her. She saw my shocked look and said, "but that is how you learn." Wow.

3 comments:

Helena said...

Oh wow. Yeah, that's certainly a different philosophy of teaching. Yikes.

The hanji sounds very cool!

Becky said...

Hi Helena: I can't wait to see the finished Hanji. She did all the fine cutting of the paper beforehand using what looked like an Exacto knife. The paste she used was one she made herself with flour and water.

CreekHiker said...

Becky, Do show us the hanji... it sounds amazing. What a talented friend you have.

How unfortunate that they don't know what it is like to learn with support and encouragement.

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