Author Archive
Adulthood
Customs
general
Gestures

Haircuts and Rejections

The Informant:

My friend is someone I met two years ago when I first came to USC. She and I lived on the same floor and had similar classes. She was born in Japan and immigrated to the U.S. when she was less than four years old. She heard this reference when she was visiting her friend back in Japan in high school.

When a girl cuts her hair to make a drastic change, it means she was dumped by her boyfriend or rejected when confessing to someone. 

The Analysis:

The saying falls along the lines of a sort of remedy to channel the girl’s sadness or frustration at rejection. It represents the rejection but also a new beginning that comes after a type of failure. The cutting of one’s hair signifies that one has abandoned the faulty past and is working to move one to the future. The hair is significant because a maiden’s hair is a major form of attraction for men. Cutting off this form of attraction can mean that the boy had no attraction towards the girl so she might as well cut it off. The importance of hair in the Japanese culture accentuates the act of cutting it and this in turn accentuates the meaning behind it.

Folk Beliefs

Dung Dreams

Dung Dreams

똥싸는거는, 옛잘에 소가 똥을싸잖아, 소가 길에있는것들 다 막 먹고 똥을싸. 사람들은 지나가다가 길에 많이 이것저것 잃어버리잖아. 그래서 그것들을 소가 먹고 똥을싸. 소 똥에 엽전 (coin)이 나오는거야. 소 똥을 뒤집으면 밑에 엽전있을수있는거지. 똥이 좋다는 얘기는 소 똥이야 사람 똥이 아니고. 오직 소 똥.

 Long time ago, everyone had cows, everyone who farmed. The cows would walk along side the road, the same road as humans did. When humans traveled, they naturally dropped things here and there. The cows would eat this up, whatever it was. And so when it pooped, there was a chance that yeobjeon, coins (the form of money back then) could turn up. That’s why dreams with cow dung are a sign of good luck – not human poop but only cow dung.

Folk Beliefs
folk metaphor

Tears and Laughter Together Are Bad Luck

Tears and Laughter Together Are Bad Luck

울고 웃고 그러면 똥구멍에 털이나온다.

엉덩이에 뿔난다 울다가 웃으면.

엉덩이에 뿔나는거는 나쁜의미인거야. 아빠도 잘 모르지만 그냥 나쁜거야.

친구들 도 다 그런얘기헸고 엄마한테도듯고.

사람이 아니라는거지. 짐승이 된다는거지.

If you start laughing in the midst of crying, you will grow hair out of your butt. Small horns will also grow out of your butt. When horns and hair grow out of your butt, it has a bad connotation.

 

It was spread amongst the younger generation in the 1970s in South Korea. It signifies that you have turned into an animal or are becoming a beast. Humans don’t have fur or anything coming out of their butts but some animals do.

Overall, the moral of the saying is that you should choose which mood you are in – do not be bipolar or wishy-washy. Literally it is saying that you should either cry or laugh, don’t try to do both. It transcends this literal situation to imply that one shouldn’t desire to do everything in life. Ultimately everyone has to pick and choose in life and cannot attempt to do everything or gain everything. Only bad things will come out of it if so.

Riddle

The Hat

The Hat

My friend was born in the U.S. He is currently a second year at USC.

The riddle goes like this:

Q: There are three people who were abducted by an alien. They are each blindfolded and put in a straight line. They are told that there are two black hats and a white hat. Each one of the abducted people is wearing either a white hat or a black hat. The last person in line can see both people’s heads in front of him, the second person can only see the first person’s head, and the first person can’t see anything. The alien then says that if they can guess the correct color of the hats, then they will be let free. Who speaks up and what answer would he give?

A: The person standing last in line would speak up only if he sees that the hats in front of him are the same color. If the colors were opposites then person in the middle would speak up. The middle guy would know that the person behind him is quiet because the hats in front of him are two different colors. By this deduction, the man in the middle knows that whichever color hat he is wearing is the opposite of the hat color he sees in front of him, and the same as the color of the hat color behind him.

The Analysis:

Me: Where did you hear this riddle?

J: My friend, Daniel Chun.

Me: When did you hear it?

J: I heard it about a month and a half ago. After sophomore accountability, we were just chilling in another friend’s room.

Me: Do you guys do this often?

J: Oh yeah, we just chill, share stories, talk, and stuff.

 

It should be noted that there was a similar riddle to this one about hats and prisoners but without aliens.

 

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Signs

Good Luck Before A Big Day

Good Luck Before A Big Day

The Superstition:

I know for exams, if you accidentally break a utensil or a plate on the day before a really big day, then you’re going to succeed. I guess it’s following the idea that you lose something then you gain something. But it has to be broken on accident, not on purpose.

The Analysis:

The idea truly follows the logic that when one loses something one also gains something else. The broken object signifies the loss. It is also similar to the idea that the storm must come before the calm, or one must get through the night before it becomes day. Nothing comes free in this world and to gain is ultimately to lose.

Adulthood
Initiations
Material

Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi Recipe

Most women made their own kimchi (cabbage side dish) for their respective families. With the onset of contemporary times, kimchi is now mass produced and rarely homemade. This recipe was taken from my mother who had been given her mother’s (my grandmother’s) recipe and so on. She added her own addition to it (the shrimp) years after making the kimchi for our family. There is a different taste from this homemade side dish to the mass produced one, and between my mother’s kimchi and other families’ kimchi tastes. Each family has their respective recipe that they follow, which can vary for the amount of time the cabbage is soaked to the individual ingredients used. Creating kimchi for your family was also a sign of a girl learning ownership of her household and family, as it takes a while to make and families tend to make a lot to last through the winter in one sitting.

The Recipe:

배추를 사서 반으로 쪼개고 그리고 그걸 또 반 살짝 자르는거야 중도까지.

그렇게해서 물에다가 소금을넣어서 풀으는거야. 소금을 녹을때까지 배추를 당거.

그렇게해서 2시간후에 뒤집어. 그리고 총4시간후에 싯어.

싯어서 소쿠리 에다가 나.

양염은: 무 하나, 양파 반, 파 한단, 마늘 6족, 생강( ginger) 조금, 새우 조금 (1/2 cup), sweet rice죽, 미나리, 갓. 다 썰어서 고추가루랑 양염하는거야.

Sweet rice죽에다가 새우를넣고 그냥나둬.

죽에다가 예쁘게 만들어 빨갛게. 무 하고 야채를 따로 고추장을 양염해.

그 후에 배추에다가 죽 양염한걸 섞어. 섞은후에 배추의 잎 사이에다가 썰은 무 양염한걸 뿌려, 빨갛게. 다해서 냉장고에 2주동안 나두면 맛있게 익을거야. 겨울에는 4주.

 

The first step is the buy the cabbage. Wash it and cut it in half. Take these halves and cut it again to the midway point. Prepare a tub of water and sprinkle a lot of salt in it. After doing this, soak the cabbage in the mixture until the salt melts in the water. After 2 hours flip the cabbage and soak the other side. Take them all out after a total of four hours. Leave them to dry. 

Sauce ingredients: 1 Radish, half an onion, one bushel of green onion, 1 clove of garlic, a little bit of ginger, half cup of mini shrimp, sweet rice porridge, parsley, and leaf mustard. 

Place the shrimp aside. Cut the rest into small slices and marinate them with gochugaru (chili powder).

Put the shrimp in the sweet ridge porridge and stir. Mix in the gochugaru until it’s a pretty red color. After this, spread the porridge mixture across the cabbage. After this, spread the other mixture with the radish and other ingredients in chili powder in between the cabbage leaves. Do this until the cabbage is red. After finishing, put the cabbage in a glass jar or store it and place it in the refrigerator for around 2 weeks to ripen. It can take up to 4 weeks in the winter.

 

 

general

Mirrors

Mirror Ghost

If you sleep with your head/face toward the mirror then the ghost in the mirror will come out and chop off your head. I heard this from my parents when I was in elementary school and I got my first room. I asked them by the bedframe was facing away from the mirror and not toward it and they told me this story.

The Analysis:

This was a ghost story that his parents told him to spook my friend as a child. He mentioned, however, that many of his friends also shared similar stories that were told by their respective parents as a child. The ghost would not always come out from a mirror but maybe spring out from under the bed, from the closet, or a window. It appears that parents use ghosts and scary stories as a means of keeping their children tucked into bed throughout the night, and leaving them to stay still and not clamber around the room.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Life cycle
Protection

Funeral Customs

Funeral Customs

Funeral:

Q: Why do Koreans wear white at funerals?

A: Because it’s clean. It shows that when they’re being sent off from this world to another, whatever world there is, they’re going off cleanly. It cleanses them of their life they led on earth and also paves the road in front of them to be smooth and clean.

Q: Why do people where black now?

A: Because it’s an American tradition. Normally Koreans, Asian cultures in general, wore white. Traditional clothes are also worn at funerals; it’s a sign of respect.

 

Folk speech
Humor

Ask A Question, Get Bit

D: 아빠 나 아빠한테 뭐 물어봐도되요?

F: 물으면 아프지.

D: 네?

F:물 면 아프다고. 

 

D: Father, can I ask you something?

F: If you do, it’ll hurt.

D: Huh?

F: If you ask me a question, it will hurt.

 

In korean, the word “ask” is the same spelling as “bite.” This is a play on words that I overheard a father and daughter converse while at church. The daughter asks the father if she can ask him a question, and he reinterprets the question as “can I bite you.”

Folk Beliefs
folk metaphor
Signs

Pigs Bring Wealth

Pigs Bring Wealth

The Informant:

She was an elderly who came to the U.S. in the early 1990s. Although Christian, she says she still believes in this superstition a little bit.

 

돼지 꿈구면 행운이다.

돼지는 한국에서, 이 뭐냐, 돈이야. 옛잘에 모든 사업 아니면 일하는분들은 돼지머리를 잘라서 절을 하는거야. 절하다가 코에다가 돈 집어넣고, 입에도 넣고, 귀에다 넣고, 아므튼 늘수있는데에다 넣는거야. 

If you dream of a pig it’s good luck.

Long ago, a pig is a form of income. It is equal to money or wealth. People who ran businesses or stores would cut off a pig’s head, lay it on a table, and bow down to it. While bowing down, as a sign of worship, they would stick money in its nose, mouth, ears, anywhere on the head that they could. They did this so that they would succeed and become rich.

 

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