Author Archive
Customs

Korean Customs with Employees and Employers

Main Piece: “In Korea if you work at a company and your team leader says you are going to drink tonight, you have to drink. It is is not acceptable to turn down the offer if it has been made for you. And ff you are either at a restaurant, a bar, or if you’re just sitting around with your boss and he is pouring you a glass of anything, you have to drink it. Guys are forced to drink, and if you are given a drink of any kind you have to drink the entire thing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it or don’t want the drink, it is part of the culture and the expectancy to finish the drink your boss gives you.”

 

Background: WP grew up in South Korea, and this is his first time in America so he has spent nearly his entire life growing up with customs such as this. WP made it clear that this is not simply in companies that are for younger people, but that this is something that occurs in almost every major job. When thinking about it, WP seemed to believe that this custom was to reinforce the idea of respect and obedience to your superiors. If you don’t follow your boss it is considered being rude, and along with that if you don’t listen to them and go along with this custom, then you will hardly ever get a chance to be promoted. The main reasoning for this, according to WP, is that if you “disobey” your boss and do not drink with them, then you would be considered someone who goes against their words. WP said that drinking is part of the professionalism in South Korea, and as such it is not a good look for your professionalism if you do not comply.And if you don’t do all the elements of the “society,” then you are seen as less than and unworthy of higher positions in the workforce.

 

Context of Performance: WP told me about this while we were at my apartment. I was asking him about his time in South Korea, and wanted to know if there were any customs that he thought were much different from Korean to American culture. Having now worked in both countries, WP could definitively say that he thought the custom of having to drink with your bosses and your colleagues, was far more Korean than American. Because as he said that he still went out to drink with his colleagues here, it was by no means mandatory and even less so with your boss.

 

Analysis:  I found this piece to be incredibly interesting for a number of reasons. For starters, in America while it is certainly not uncommon to go out after work with your colleagues, it seems that going out with your boss is for very rare occasions. At least in my experience, there was always this worry from the boss that they would be showing favoritism or it wouldn’t be professional to go out and drink with their employees. The biggest concern for the higher ups was that they feared if their employees saw them as more of a friend than a boss, they would have a harder time controlling them. It would eliminate some of the fear involved with your boss, and thus the bosses would generally try to steer clear of being overly friendly outside of work with their employees. Additionally, in this era it would be very questionable if a boss was forcing their employees to drink. Especially with the debates about the pay gap between women and the problems associated with women in the workplace having less opportunities to advance, this custom would not be very acceptable in America. This would more than likely get bosses fired because especially after the Harvey Weinstein incident in Hollywood with Weinstein using his power to force women into doing things to advance their career, there is no way this would be allowed.

Legends
Narrative

“Hitler’s Tunnel” in San Pedro

Main Piece: “San Pedro is just north of Longbeach and there is some nice areas and bad areas of the town. It’s not like Seal Beach either where every one is pretty communal, its definitely a little more stand offish over there. But located in San Pedro there was this tunnel that was incredibly scary called Hitler’s tunnel. The tunnel was essentially really secluded tunnel that ran like two miles long and it was below a graveyard that was directly across from a church. The tunnel would be big enough to fit a 6 foot person and then it would get bigger suddenly, and then go back to normal. The tunnel was so scary because if you didn’t have a flashlight or something, you would not be able to see anything because the only exit was the entrance. But the reason this tunnel is so notorious is that it is said that in the 50s some dude took a girl down there…raped here… and killed her. The story has it that if you go down there at night, you can hear the screams and the cries of the woman who was murdered.  We were curious to see if this was actually real so my friends and I went there all together. We entered the tunnel and at first it seemed quiet but then we started to hear what sounded like explosions coming from inside the tunnel. They were loud enough to make out, but not loud enough to tell exactly where they were coming from as the sound bounced around the tunnel. Then when we got to the end of the tunnel, we began to hear voices, and we had no other way to leave but out the entrance. So we all ran back to the entrance of the tunnel… And as we were leaving, we heard the voices again and I could’ve sworn I say what looked like eyes in the dark. It could’ve been my eyes playing tricks on me, but it felt so real.”

 

Background: KS told me that this was one of the spookiest things that he and his friends ever did. KS said that while he normally doesn’t believe in these types of stories and especially haunted ghost stories, the stuff that he experienced there was unsettling beyond belief. He said that his friends would try to get him to go again numerous other times, but he refused because it was such a traumatic experience. He originally heard this story through his friends at school, and it wasn’t until he actually experienced it that he really felt this intensely about it.

 

Context of the Performance: KS told me this story while we were at our apartment discussing some of the most haunted places in our neighborhoods. While he was telling me this story, my other roommate came in and was so interested in the story that he pulled up a chair and listened to the rest of the story. My other roommate said that he also had heard stories about this place, but nothing quite as intense as the one KS had recalled.

 

Analysis: This legend is really dark, but I find it very interesting. This tunnel as KS describes it, seems to be some kind of possible sewer line as he explained after the fact that it had manholes inside that you couldn’t lift up but where on the ground with ladders there as well. Additionally, the story of the woman being raped and murdered adds another dark element to an already eery place. I believe that it is entirely possible that this piece could be warning people about entering this place due to the danger that surrounds it. While it may not be specters that are threatening people, the fact that there is a tunnel with only one opening does breed the idea that if someone wanted to do something horrible, it would be very difficult for you to escape. And having this tunnel also be situated under a graveyard adds an extra layer of uneasiness, as it feels like walking through the tunnel could be disturbing the souls above you. This terrifying, albeit rather interesting tunnel, has created many stories that seem to simultaneously warn people about the dangers of disturbing the dead, and also the dangers of being unconscious of your surroundings.

general
Legends
Myths
Narrative

“Indian Burial Ground” Seal Beach Legend

Main Piece: “So there is this story that I was told as a kid, that involves this Indian burial ground and the coyote dens who live around it. So story goes that back before anyone ever lived in Seal Beach there was this Indian Tribe that moved into the area of Gum Grove Park. They lived there for many years without any problems, and for the most part lived a pretty uneventful life. Then one day, a group of the Indians had to leave the grounds to go find food for the rest of the tribe. The group went out and was having lots of trouble finding food this time around, until they finally came across some deer. The hunting party killed as much as they could carry, and then headed back to their home. However, when they arrived back the tribe had been murdered by something. The hunters searched for days and days to see if they could find the people or the animal that was responsible, but they found nothing. The hunters eventually buried their dead in the burial ground that is still in Gum Grove, and instead of leaving to start a new life, the hunters stayed at the burial ground and opted to die alongside their tribe. After all the hunters had died, there was a sudden influx in coyotes in the area and especially in the area surrounding the burial ground. They created their dens behind the burial ground, and it is believed that these coyotes are the hunters that were reincarnated as protectors of this sacred ground. And every night at around midnight they would howl and cry, as they are still not over the loss of their family and friends.”

 

Background: KS said that this is a legend that he remembers hearing form his father when he was a child. KS also said that this very park is incredibly close to his house, and that as a kid he loved going with his family to play at the park. But as the years went by, KS liked going and exploring the park with friends and, thus this story would come back into his mind every time they went to the park. They knew that this burial ground was deep in the park and very secluded, and it also had warning signs that would count down to 10, but KS said that he only ever went their once because it had such an eerie feeling. And KS said that he was able to hear the coyotes at night as well, as one time he even saw a couple of the coyote dens the reside by the burial ground.

 

Context of the Performance: KS told me this legend of the Indian Burial ground while we were discussing some of the most famous stories from our communities. This was one that KS particularly remembered and said that it was one of the more unsettling things he had ever experienced.

 

Analysis: This legend is interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters, there isn’t a whole lot of other information about this particular legend on the internet. This in now way means that what KS heard isn’t true or that he is lying, but I think it speaks to just how specific this legend is to his life and perhaps his family. Seeing as how the park was so close to his house, it is entirely possible that his parents used this as a way to discourage him from exploring the more dense areas of the park so that he would stay safe. There are most certainly coyotes in the area, and for a kid to be exploring on his own could definitely be dangerous. Additionally I think this also functions as a legend that seeks to remind us of the horrors that we committed to Native Americans. Having the entire tribe beings slaughtered bye an unknown enemy, and then choosing to die rather than leave their homeland I think is a very powerful way of showing the struggle between Native Americans’ pride and struggle for their land, and the greedy and destructive nature of the colonizer.

Customs

Seal Beach “Rubies” Tradition

Main Piece: “Me and my friends, 8 of them, they were really close, and I didn’t become a part of their friend group until late middle school. But after I joined the group we all became super close and did everything together. One tradition that we had.. I don’t know it’s kind of hard to describe but, I grew up in Seal Beach. It’s a small town on PCH between Long Beach and Huntington Beach. It’s super low-key, no tourists, and no sketchy people. It’s a very small community and everybody knows everybody in the town and everyone feels really close to the town. At the heart of the town is a Main Street and a pier that extends out past the sand on the beach. At the end of the pier, there was a rubies that was there that we used to always go to and spend time and eat lunch or dinner. But then one day it closed down and everybody in the community was super sad and my group of friends especially was really bummed out about it, because it was one of our favorite places. They gated off the section of the pier where the Rubies was. The Rubies was closed down and nothing replaced it for about 10 years, and then one day the Rubies caught on fire (probably because of an arsonist or something) and the Rubies burned down to the ground. Because this fire was pretty drastic, they removed that part of the pier, but the fence that would section off the pier to where the rubies was is still there. And because this was such a huge part of our childhood, no matter where we were, if we were out on the town we would always walk to the end of the pier and touch the fence. We literally did it every time, and no matter what you had to walk all the way to the end and touch the fence. Even when I go back home for breaks and for the weekend, my friends and I still do this.”

 

Background: KS and his friends hold the town of Seal Beach very dear to your hearts. He mentions that it is a very big community based town, and it is very normal for people to never leave the town. In fact, he said that it was very common for families to raise children and then once those children grew up and finished school and such, they would come back to Seal Beach and raise a family of their own. KS said it was very normal for people to live and die in Seal Beach, because the community is so important to everyone there. KS also mentioned that the pier is a huge part of Seal Beach, and the Rubies was a great communal meeting point so the feeling of touching a very iconic part of Seal Beach, solidifies the love and appreciation for the town.

 

Context of the Performance: KS told me this tradition that he and his friends have while we were discussing some of our favorite traditions in our friend groups. His tradition is very community based and it is so unique to one specific place, that he really felt emotional telling this story of how much he loves his towns and his friends.

 

Analysis: This tradition is very heartwarming and is a fantastic snapshot of how important traditions are in the realm of community and friendship. Unlike many communities in America, Seal Beach is very clearly a tight knit community that puts an immense value on community, friendship, and togetherness. The weight that this one restaurant has in this friend group and to the community as a whole, further accentuates that great emphasis on loving the community and each other. And while there are certainly some communities in the country that fit this mold, it certainly does go against the general American values of individualism. For me, the town I grew up in did not have this great of an emphasis on community, and it was still very much a community that favored individual success over being tight knit. So I find it fascinating that there are towns throughout the country that go against these American norms, and in turn create a very real and communal atmosphere for the population that lives there.

 

Legends
Narrative

“Silver Spring Barn” Ghost Story

Main Piece: “So at this barn where I would always go to ride horses, there was one corner of the ring…where shit hit the fan every time. There was nothing different about this corner than any of the other corners, but every time I would ride my horse around the ring the horse would either tense up, or the horse couldn’t go near the corner of the ring. So one day after a ride I was complaining to the barn owner about how the horse was acting, and I mentioned the fact that it kept happening in one very specific corner of the ring. The barn owner said that she was very familiar with that issue, and it wasn’t just me that was experiencing problems with it. Practically every horse, regardless of who the rider was, would have a really visceral reaction to that corner of the ring. So the barn owner told me one that she went to a psychic as a family. They told the psychic about some other things that were happening, and without being told about the corner of the ring and without ever seeing the property… The psychic said that there is one place that everyone gets scared of, and that it is causing problems for animals and the people. The barn owner said she was shocked that she knew about this, and then the psychic after doing a couple other rituals came to the conclusion that…. the recently deceased grandma was spending her days sitting in that corner of the ring watching the horses and the trainers riding them. The barn owner told me that the grandma rode horses as well and so the barn owner accepted it just tried to avoid that corner whenever she rode so as not to disturb her grandmother or spook the horses.”

 

Background: GR spent so much of her time at this barn training horses and riding them in events that this story really stuck with her and made her a little uneasy at first. GR said the idea of having the ghost of the grandma watching her was a bit unsettling, but at the same time she got used to the idea since there was never any threatening actions that were being made against her or the horses. GR talked about how the whole family that owned the barn all rode horses, so this idea of the grandma spending her time sitting in the corner of the ring and watching the horses made a lot of sense to her. Because horse riding is such a huge part of that family and the community, it was seen by the barn owner and GR as almost a beautiful way for the grandma to spend her time in the afterlife watching the thing that she loved so much while she was alive.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR had a lot of stories to tell about the barn that she used to ride at. And when we were talking about some of the ghost stories from around the world, she mentioned that she had one from her barn.

 

Analysis: Ghost stories are always fascinating to dissect as they generally have so many elements working throughout them, that may not be readily apparent. In the case of this particular ghost story, I think that this one is functioning as a way to help ease the pain for the family that owns the barn after the passing of the grandmother. Losing a family member is always hard, and after the loss it is incredibly difficult to cope with that pain. I really liked hearing this story, and it was told so well that I honestly got goosebumps when hearing the reveal that the grandmother was expected to be the reason for the horses getting spooked. I also find this to be a rather beautiful way to memorialize their grandma as white the pain of losing a loved one cannot be erased, knowing that she is happy and spending her days watching the thing that used to bring her so much joy is rather heartwarming in a way.

Folk speech
Proverbs

“If your horse isn’t cool, don’t be a fool… leave your helmet on.” Horse Riding Proverb

Main Piece:If your horse isn’t cool, don’t be a fool… leave your helmet on.

 

Background: GR grew up with a long history of horse riding, and that is one of her most favorite things to do when she has the free time and is able to make it to the barn. GR says that this proverb is incredibly important in terms of rider safety, especially when she was younger, the rhyming nature of it helped her to remember it very vividly. Essentially, GR says that this means that you are never supposed to take care of yourself and start getting ready to finish unless your horse is okay. Sometimes if its the end of a ride and you are getting ready to leave and pack things up, there are times when the horse may either be spooked or acting strange, and its important to never take off your gear and helmet before the horse is okay. GR said not only is it a respect thing for the horse, to make sure that the animal is okay and that you help to calm them down if something is wrong, but it is also a safety concern for the rider. If the horse does something out of character or unexpected, and it hits you or knocks you off and you are not wearing a helmet, you could get seriously injured. GR also said that its important to look out for the horse first too because throughout the event or the training you are asking a lot of the horse, and if you are not listening to it and ignoring its needs, it may also be less responsive the next time you go to ride the horse.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR was able to inform me about some of the expectancies that come with riding horses.

 

Analysis: Seeing as how it would appear that horse riding is something that people in this community generally tend to learn from a young age, it makes total sense that this proverb would exist as a way to help remind people of the dangers of working with these animals. Horses are incredibly powerful creatures, and the ramifications of being unsafe while riding them could be very severe and I believe that this serves to function as a cautionary reminder to these riders. Additionally, it seems that another main part of this is the respect factor that is involved with the horses. GR mentioned that a huge part of this saying is to serve as a reminder to respect your horse, and make sure that they are okay.The horse riding community puts a huge emphasis on respecting your animal, and it is interesting to see this as I feel generally in American culture there is certainly less of an importance placed on the well being of animals. We generally tend to see them as less important, and so in parts of the country that do not usually interact with animals besides house pets, there is far less importance placed on their well being.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
general

Horse Riding Tradition: “Never let a fall be the end of your ride”

Main Performance: “So at the ranch I ride at, there is this unspoken rule that everybody has to follow, it’s a tradition of sorts as everyone practices this at the barn. But basically, the custom is that if you fall off your horse, whether it be during an event, or while practicing, or even just riding out in the country, you have to get back on your horse afterwards. It is something that I have always been taught while growing up, and it was something that I saw every other rider doing at the barn. It was just expected that you never let a fall be the end of your ride.”

 

Background: GR grew up with a long history of horse riding, and that is one of her most favorite things to do when she has the free time and is able to make it to the barn. GR mentions that a big part of the tradition also is trying to earn the respect of the other riders at the barn who generally are either watching or riding horses themselves. Because this is a community built around the nature of never giving up as GR told me, making sure to get back up on the horse is huge to earning that respect form the more veteran riders. Additionally GR mentions that at the barn she was raised at, it was never okay to simply do things half way. It was expected that when you do something at the barn, you do it at 100% no matter whether or not you succeed, it is far more important that your effort is there. And GR also says that on the barn, while it was okay to not succeed every time, it was always preached that if you are going to practice something, you need to make sure you practice it right. Falling off the horse is the last thing the horse remembers, and GR said that its so important that you don’t end a session of a failure for the horse. GR said that undoubtedly this mindset of resilience and challenging yourself is a staple of her horse riding community.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR was able to inform me about some of the expectancies that come with riding horses.

 

Analysis: This custom is such an interesting tradition as I this idea of “you gotta get back on the horse” has definitely circulated in other parts of the country as a metaphor for never giving up. It is fascinating to see this saying and custom being used in a place where it is quite literal, and that getting back on the horse is so important not only for gaining respect and being a good rider, but also it is to help the horse not end the ride on a failure. In America, there is a huge cultural emphasis on never giving up and putting in 100% effort in the things that you do. This custom in the horse riding community is a perfect microcosm, and operates as a literal iteration of the belief that you must always keep trying even when you fail. Failure is a part of life, and seeing the fact that failure is accepted in this community as long as you get back up and learn from it, greatly represents the major American value of never giving up.

Folk speech

“Over, Under, Through” Horse Riding Proverbial Phrase

Main Piece:Over, Under, Through.

 

Background: GR is a horse rider, and spends a large portion of her time riding horses on a ranch and training them for upcoming events. Additionally, she also trains horses so that other people can buy them, and use them for themselves in high end events. GR is from just outside of Washington DC., and would spend her time at a barn in silver spring Maryland. Because GR’s family all rode horses, and the people at the barn spent so much time riding horses, this proverb was super important to her. GR said that this proverb originated from a woman named Coleen Rutledge who was the first American eventer to ever run all three four-stars in America in one year. The type of riding that GR does is similar to Rutledge, and the events consisted of lots of jumps and “hits.” So GR said that this proverb was a way to get riders to focus and not doubt themselves, because any kind of apprehension on the event or in the country will screw you over. GR said that this proverb helped her to focus and when it came time for the jumps in the events she would think to herself, “We are going over this jump, under the next, and through the other.”

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this proverb, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR was very excited to share this proverb and some of the other horse related folklore that is somewhat new to me.

 

Analysis: I had never heard this type of proverb before, as I am rather ignorant when it comes to the folklore of the rural countries and especially as it relates to horses. But this seems to be a very important proverb especially in the horse event riding world, especially given how much GR knew about its inception and how seriously GR takes this proverb. As someone who isn’t very familiar with horse riding, this proverb seems like it certainly seeks to push riders into trusting their instincts and not get too much in their own head when riding the horses. GR said that the type of riding she does is very dangerous, and so this proverb makes even more sense in that context as if you are a rider who does not make a snap decision, and you second guess yourself instead of simply deciding to go “Over, under, and through,” you could not only get seriously injured but you could also seriously injure your horse.

Legends
Narrative

New Jersey “Vanishing Camaro” Legend

Main Piece: “On this really tough stretch of road, there is a part that has a severe turn which can be difficult for drivers to make when going at highs speeds. Well one night, a woman was driving her Camaro down this road and she lost control and got into an accident, which immediately killed her. However, this was not the last time she was to be seen… In fact… apparently at night if people are driving down the road, this very same Camaro will randomly appear and chase the driver until it finally vanishes into thin air. There really isn’t much that triggers the sighting, but most people say that if you or someone in the car talks about the woman who died and her car, it will act as a call to her and she will appear.

 

Background: KC said that this one is what scared him the most after he heard it from his friends. Because he has to do a lot of driving, and sometimes he will pass that road late at night, he said that he was always keeping an extra head over his shoulder to ensure nothing happened to him. He also said that he saw this story as a way to remind young people about the dangers of unsafe driving, and what the consequences of that can be on someone so young.

 

Context of the Performance: KC told me this story while we were in my apartment discussing some of our most memorable stories about haunted houses, or ghost stories from our areas that we grew up in. He knew this one very well, and was delighted to tell the story of how creepy the vanishing Camaro was. He wanted me to understand just how much spooky stuff happened in and around the area from which he grew up. He even said that because driving was always something that kind of had him on edge, this idea of a spectral Camaro chasing him really had an impact, so much so that he remembered it pretty well.

 

Analysis: This legend is another interesting ghost story that I think definitely has a deliberate point to it. Much like KC said that he believes that this story could potentially be a warning to young people so that they do not make the same mistakes as the woman who died in her Camaro. I also find the symbolism of the car following the people on the road to be very fascinating. Personally I read this as a literal specter and a reminder of the past, and I think in some ways this story is trying to tell people: “No matter what, the consequences of your actions will follow you until the day you die. And if your mistakes hurt others, then that is something that will be with them until the day they die.” So while it is most certainly a ghost story to tell to friends and families, I think its themes are indicative of New Jersey’s paranoia to keep people safe, as they have seen a lot of death, and they don’t want to lose anymore young men or women.

Legends
Narrative

“Cross Castle” New Jersey Legend

Main Piece: “There is a castle off Clifton road, called Cross Castle and it is notorious for being super weird and having some strange stuff happening over there.  It is said to be the sight of many satanic rituals and also it is supposed to be super haunted. People went up there one time to investigate it and see if they could find anything crazy, and they were camping outside when they started to hear whispers and chanting coming… from inside the Castle. When the chanting started, one of the members started having a seizure and after a few more seconds the chanting stopped and so did the seizure. They left soon after that, but it is also known that people who entered the castle would have seizures, and only after they exited the castle would they stop.”

 

Background: KC said that Cross Castle was a staple of legends that he remembers hearing from his friends as a kid, especially the ones who wanted to see the remains of the Castle and see whether or not it was really haunted. KC also mentioned that in the 50’s there was a serious problem with teenagers and drug dealers hanging out in the castle and doing a bunch of things that were either illegal or unsafe. For that reason he tried to stay away from the area, but his friends were very persistent and would continuously ask him to go with them to visit the castle.

 

Context of the Performance: KC told me this story while we were in my apartment discussing some of our most memorable stories about haunted houses, or ghost stories from our areas that we grew up in. He knew this one very well, and was delighted to tell the story of how creepy Cross Castle was. He wanted me to understand just how much spooky stuff happened in and around the area from which he grew up and went to school and work.

 

Analysis: I find this story to be intensely creepy, and the meaning behind it seems to be very apparent given the circumstances of what the castle had become to the youth of the present. In Jersey, KC mentioned that there wasn’t always the greatest level of supervisor from parents, and so there were many kids that ended up getting themselves into trouble by doing dumb things. This story seems to scare people away from this specific location, and I would imagine that is mostly motivated by people’s desire to keep young adults and drug dealers away from the location. Seeing as how there was a growing problem at this location with drugs, it would be entirely reasonable to suspect that perhaps this story was meant to scare kids, teens, and adults away from this place. Also the seizures mentioned in the story, could even be linked to showing people the consequences of over using drugs, as again, KC mentioned that there was a serious problem with drugs being bought and used at this place.

 

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