Sunday, 6 February 2011

Lunar New Year in Busan (part 1)

Busan was really busy over Lunar New Year with traffic sprawling all over the city as people were travelling to meet their families. My wife and I arrived at her aunt's house at around 4pm and I was so tired from the (short) travelling that I felt like I'd been on a plane. Her aunt was waiting for us with a big smile, just like her sister always is (my wife's mother). We entered the house and were greeted by two of my wife's cousins and her uncle.

The first thing we did when we got there was say happy New Year and then my wife got ready to bow to her aunt and uncle. This is part of Korean culture and tradition where younger members of the family bow to their elders and is called Seh Beh. She actually got me to do this with her (a bit strange as it was only the second time I'd met them and I'm not Korean) but I went along with it because my wife wanted me to. It only took five seconds and was painless. to my surprise her uncle gave my wife 50,000won and then her aunt gave the same to me. I didn't feel like I deserved it but declining the gift may have been offensive.$0D A
And then we sat down to eat. My aunt and one of her bousins had prepared some food and then added much more over the next six hours. I was very grateful for the food on offer, some of which my aunt had made specifically for me. It didn't take me very long at the house to see just how generous this family is. I also felt very welcome and never felt awkward, which was a slight worry beforehand.

I had some beer with her male cousin as we continued to eat and watch TV. The aunt continued to get me to eat as much as I could fit in my mouth. To refuse the food on offer would have been very impolite I feel. Quickly the aunt found out that I like pears and peppers. I soon joked that if I ate any more I would turn into one. After eating and drinking I was very full indeed. All this was done whilst sitting down on the floor and my knee took a bit of a battering.

A few hours later the youngest cousin and her husband arrived (from Seoul) with their two year old baby daughter who is as adorable as any baby could probably ever be. Everyone watched the baby being a baby and we continued to watch TV and eat and drink and talk. The youngest cousin has a husband who speaks good English which I appreciated greatly. Not long after 10pm the oldest cousin, who I have seen the most arrived with her husband, also from Seoul. They sat down to eat and drink and relax. The oldest cousin's husband also speaks good English. We talked more and drank more without getting drunk. I felt very comfortable during all of this.

Later that night the baby performed the Seh Beh to all the family including my wife and I. It was probably the cutest thing I've ever seen and everyone opened up their wallets gladly to give the baby some money.

I learned some new Korean words over Lunar New Year. Perhaps I will get the chance to use them again. I didn't take any pictures of my first day because it didn't feel right. I'm new to the family and wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible. I would have liked to have taken a few snaps but I'll leave that till next time, whenever that is. Here is some of the vocabulary I learned.

Seh Beh - 세배 - bow performed to elders

Imoh - 이모 - aunt

Imoh Boo - 이모부 - aunt's husband

Sa Chon - 사촌 - cousin

Jo Kah - 조카 - niece/nephew

Yobo - 여보 - darling/honey (used between a husband and wife)

The hospitality extended to us was amazing. At no time did I feel unwelcome and I hope that one day we can reciprocate with at least some of them. I'm lucky to have such a great extended family. At around 11pm we headed to our hotel and of course one of the family drive us there. We were both tired and wanted to be fresh for the next day where we would meet the family again.

2 comments:

MOMO said...

Hi, I'm MOMO live in Japan. I'm studying English and also interested in Korean so, your blog is perfect for me!!
Let me visit yours again^^

Talking to myself said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Good luck with your studies Momo

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