Author Archives: Andrew Bae

Tradition – Korea

Tradition- Korea

“It is a Korean tradition to eat Miyok Guk (seaweed soup) on one’s birthday.”

My mother told me she learned this tradition when she was really young. She told me that every birthday since she can remember, her mother (my grandmother) would make her this traditional seaweed soup. She would always start off her birthday by eating this soup. My grandmother did this tradition not only with my mother but also with my mother’s six other siblings. This tradition carried on to my mother. She makes this tradition soup on my birthday and also my sister’s birthday. My mother also makes this soup on my father’s birthday since my father’s mother lives far away. My mother said that she doesn’t really know when and by whom this was started. However, she said that the reason why Korean mothers make this soup on their children’s birthday is because right after giving birth it is a tradition for the mother to eat this soup. This soup is supposed to have many nutritious benefits that replenish the mother after she uses all her energy to give birth. Also this soup is supposed to help the mother lactate better. So by eating this soup on your birthday, it represents your birth and it also is supposed to give you strength because this soup gave strength to your mother to feed you.

Just like my mother has been eating this soup ever since birth, I feel like I have also been eating this soup since forever. I don’t know much about the soup giving you strength and helping mothers lactate better. Maybe it does and maybe it does not. However, I think most of all, it is eaten so families can celebrate and reminisce back to the day a family member was born. Since the child came out of the mother, I feel like not so much the father but the mother has a huge attachment to the day her child was born. I think this is why every Korean mother I know; cooks Miyok guk on every birthday of her child. Eating Miyuk Guk on my birthday has more of a superstitious meaning for me. I feel like by eating this soup on my birthday it will give me good luck and another good year. However, I remember a time when my mother was actually gone for my birthday and she could not cook the soup for me. Even though, my father cooked some Miyuk Guk that morning, it felt very weird. It just wasn’t the same as my mother’s. I felt like I was almost cursed to have a bad year.

Tradition – Korea

Tradition- Korea

“Every New Year’s day, it is also a Korean tradition to eat Dduk Mandu Guk (Dumpling

soup with rice cakes).”

My mother told me another tradition that Korean’s do every year. Every New Year’s day, Koreans eat a traditional dish of Dduk Mandu Guk. She told me that she used to eat it in Korea every New Year’s day. Korea’s New Years is a little different from America’s because Korea celebrates its New Years based on a lunar calendar and not a solar calendar. She told me that before when she was younger that they would eat just Mandu Guk (Dumpling soup) without the Dduk (rice cake) on New Years. It wasn’t until sometime later that they added Dduk to it. She said the northern regions of Korea (before North and South split) added Dduk to their soup and it influenced others regions of Korea to follow. She said that each family has different and special methods and ingredients that they add to their dumplings that make each dumpling somewhat unique. This variation makes most families’ dumpling soup somewhat unique. In my mom’s dumpling soup, she said that she adds seasoned chicken breast strips on top of the soup to give it a spicy kick to it. When asked why Koreans eat dumpling soup for New Years, she said that every year that passes, we “ate” another year. So to kind of symbolize that “eating” and for another good year, Koreans like to eat a nice, warm, filling dumpling soup.

It was kind of neat talking to my mother about this. I didn’t realize that Korea celebrated New Year’s on a different day than us. My mother grew up eating this soup on a different day every New Year since the New Year’s date would change every year because of the lunar calendar. I really enjoy eating Dduk Mandu Guk and especially on New Year’s. It is like eating turkey every Thanksgiving. It is a meal I grew up eating every New Year’s and I feel like I have to eat it every New Year’s. I actually often go to Koreatown and order a bowl of dumpling soup once in awhile. And it is true what my mother says about each soup being somewhat different. Sometimes the base is different and other times it is the dumpling that has a slightly different taste to it. I realized that all dumpling soups are very similar, and yet somehow pretty different. To this day, I have yet encountered a dumpling soup with the same chicken strips that mother adds. I wasn’t sure if I understood my mother correctly when she said they “ate” another year. I have never heard of a year passing, as eating the year. But overall, it was interesting learning about this.

Joke – United States

Joke- United States

“So a guy walks into the bar and orders a drink from the bartender. Sitting there and drinking, he looks over and sees a horse. He calls the bartender over and asks why there’s a horse in the bar. Bartender tells him, “Oh its my horse.” And then the bartender goes, “I bet you can’t make my horse laugh.” The guy goes “Okay, for a drink?” and the bartender goes. “Sure, why not.” So the guy takes the horse into the other room. About 15 seconds later, the guy opens the door. And the horse is laughing. So then the bartender gives him a drink and asks him how he did it. However, the guy refuses to tell him. So the bartender goes, “okay, if you make my horse cry, ill give you another drink.” So the guy says, “okay.” So the guy takes the horse into the other room. About 15 seconds later, the guy opens the door and the horse is crying. So the bartender gives him his free drink and asks him how he did it. The guy goes, “if you gives me another drink, I’ll tell you.” So the bartender gives him another drink and the guy tells him, “To make your horse laugh, I told him I had a bigger penis than him. To make him cry, I showed him.””

Eric told me that he learned this joke randomly from his friend in high school, probably his sophomore year. He said that they were “probably just messing around” and telling each other these jokes about sex and sexual parts. He said he really liked this joke and thought it was really funny. So it kind of just stayed with him all these years. However, he said it was hard to remember the joke exactly. He said that it was hard to tell the joke with all the pieces being the same every time. He said most of the time when he tells it, the joke is always a little different.

Eric is my roommate and I have heard this joke before I recorded it for my folklore collection. I think it is funny and a little immature but yet still funny. I think it was probably my sophomore, maybe freshmen year in high school when my friends and I would tell each other similar jokes. I think it is interesting that even though Eric grew up in Las Vegas and I grew up in  the Los Angeles area that we told similar jokes. I remember telling “Your momma is so fat” jokes, and “bar” jokes and definitely many “sexual” jokes. As I said before I have heard this joke before from him. It’s true what Eric says that every time he tells it, it always changes a little bit. I think last time he told me, the horse was already in the other room and the timing was like 10 seconds later. And I believe I told this joke to someone else using something similar. So I can see how similar jokes with different variations spread amongst people.

Joke – United States

Joke- United States

“So a guy walks into the bar and orders a drink from the bartender. Sitting there and drinking, he looks over and sees a ten inch pianist. He calls the bartender over and asks where the little man came from. So the bartender tells him, that he found a lamp and genie came out of it. The genie told him that he would grant him one wish. So the guy goes, “so… you wished of a ten inch pianist?” and the bartender goes, “well… not exactly.””

Eric told me that he also learned this joke randomly from his friend in high school. It was probably sophomore year and probably from the same friend that told him the other bar joke. He said that they would tell a lot of random jokes to each other. He said he also really liked this joke and thought it was really funny. So it kind of just stayed with him all these years. He said that this was a joke that you had to say and not just read. He said that the punch of the joke is way funnier when it is told and not read.

It is kind of weird because I have also heard this joke before when I was younger and probably my sophomore year. However for my joke, the pianist was a twelve inch man. I really thought that this joke was funny when I was younger. It was kind of amusing how the genie mistaken a penis for a pianist. I remember that there were a lot of these word plays, sexual jokes during my childhood; especially during the beginning ages of sexual curiosity and puberty.

Drinking Game – Korea

Drinking Game- Korea

“A drinking game, I played while I was studying abroad in Korea was Titanic. Basically, you need a glass cup for beer, a shot glass and it has to be glass, beer, and soju. So what you do is you pour a glass full of beer and then put an empty shot glass on top of it ( you pour a little soju in the shot glass to stabilize it) . So everyone sit around in a circle and each person pours some amount of soju into the shot glass. They can pour as much or as little as they want; as long as they pour some amount. Whoever causes the shot glass to tip over, has to drink the glass full of beer and soju. That’s the end of the game but you play multiple rounds of it.”

Garam said that he learned this game in Korea when he went to study abroad this last fall, in 2007. He said that drinking was a big part of the Korea culture and that is how most people bonded. People in Korea bonded over drinks at bars and at people’s homes. He said he was over at some friend’s place in Korea one night and they wanted to play Titanic. He said that is when he learned about this drinking game.

I personally have never played this game but I have heard about this game before Garam told me about it. I actually was over at my friends place a couple of weeks ago and they wanted to play this game. My friends there were Korean. So they probably heard about this game from other friends that are Korean. Well, we wanted to play this game but the shot glasses they had were all plastic. And like Garam said, it really has to be glass. The plastic does not have enough weight to it so it does not sit bottom down. It just falls on to its side. So we never got to play the game. It seems like a fun game. It is somewhat like “Hot Potatoes”. You want to keep passing it along and not get caught being the last one.