Author Archives: park158

Dalgonaa Coffee

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 24
Occupation: Barista
Residence: Seoul, Kora
Date of Performance/Collection: 14 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Original Script: 달고나커피

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer. It was conducted in Korean, and was since translated.

Informant: Dalgona coffee is a new viral recipe. Dalgona is the name of popular street candy in Korea, and the coffee is named after that because of the similar taste and color to the candy. So the recipe was first made in Korea, but you see people everywhere make the thing now.

Interviewer: Can you describe the recipe?

Informant: You mix sugar and instant coffee power, about the same ratio. You add a spoon of hot water, and blend everything. This is the key point, you have to like, really mix it. Some say it’s about 400 whips, but it’s more like 4000 if you’re using no electric utensils. Anyways after you mix it for like 10 fish minutes, the mixture’s gonna be really thick and have this beige color, which is the dalgona color. You pour a glass of milk, and drop that mixture on top. You mix the two and drink it.

Interviewer: Where did this recipe originate?

Informant: It wasn’t a thing until like, this year, once the stay at home order started. Koreans were just bored, and was looking for something to do I guess. It’s kind of the perfect thing to make in quarantine. This recipe requires a lot of manual labor, that’s the kind of stuff you need to distract yourself. And the coffee is delicious, so there’s that.

Interviewer: Why do you think the recipe became viral? Dalgona isn’t a widely known candy anywhere outside Korea.

Informant: I think it’s because everyone’s bored everywhere right now. No matter what nationality, people just want something to do. And with stuff like TikTok and Twitter, anything can be viral globally now.

Background:

The informant is a barista in Seoul, Korea. The recipe preexisted in different cultures, most notably in Macao. But around January of 2020, the recipe became a viral trend amongst Korean Twitter users, and it has since spread all over the world under the name ‘Dalgona Coffee’. On social media apps like Tiktok, making this coffee has gotten viral- under hashtag “dalgonacoffee” there are 280 million views on Tiktok, as of April 2020, and recreating this recipe has since become a viral challenge. Many cafes in Korea have since started actually selling this coffee, including the very cafe that my informant works at.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, and the informant was alone in his apartment during the talk, in a comfortable environment.

My thoughts:

I think this recipe had all the perfect elements to go viral. It’s extremely easy to make, and there’s just the right amount of mundane labor to keep you distracted, but not enough to tire you out too much. It’s a delicious coffee too, so it only made sense that people around the world took part in this challenge.

Valley of Manoa

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: In Oahu, there’s the valley of Manoa, which now is like a famous hiking trail. The story is that Hine, the wind of Manoa, married Kani, the rain of Manoa. Together they had their daughter, Kaha- she descended from the very rain and wind of Manoa, she’s beautiful and ethereal, and everything. So, Kaha’s promised to marry the prince of the sea, Kauhi. She spends her time secluded from everyone else, up in the air, looking down on the valley of Manoa. One time she saw the chiefs of the villagers of Manoa, and decided to step down from the clouds. She fell in love with him. She stepped down and she was turned into a human being. She wasn’t sad because she always envied the people of Hawaii and Manoa Valley. She married the chief, and made family at the valley. But she knew that Kauhi would be eager to get her back, so she had to stay away from the sea to be safe. One day, she for some reason decided to go out for a swim because it was such a beautiful day. To get her back, Kauhi had turned into a shark and tried to bring her to the ocean. But she had turned into a mortal, so the shark accidentally killed her. After he realized what he did, Kauhi brought her body back to the shore. Her body was buried in the valley where she loved her people. To mourn her, her parents, the wind and the rain, will cry for her even till this day. And that’s why the Manoa Valley gets so much rain and wind.

Interviewer: Where did you hear this story at first?

Informant: My grandpa would just have these stories, he’d tell it to me and my siblings anytime we visited the islands. But when I went to Manoa Valley, there was actually a little sign there at the entrance that described this very story, so I guess it’s a pretty common tale.

Background:

The informant is a 20 year old USC student. She is of caucasian and Japanese descent. Her father’s side of the family is Japanese, and third generation Hawaiian immigrants. The first wave of Japanese immigrants into the islands of Hawaii started in the late 1800s, but the U.S. annexation of the islands sped up the process of this movement. At their peak in 1920s, the population percentage of Japanese in Hawaii was around 45%. According to my informant, the culture that her family grew up in was a mixture of indigenous Hawaiian and Japanese.

Context:

The conversation took place over a Zoom call. The informant was alone at her room, at her family house in Irvine, California. It was a comfortable environment.

My thoughts:

Any culture, around the world, will have a piece of myth that tries to explain natural phenomenons. The Valley of Manoa is especially known for its unpredictable rain and wind that come in waves, and this piece of myth was a very justifiable and poetic way of describing this phenomenon.

Insider and Outsider

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 24
Occupation: Barista
Residence: Seoul, Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: 14 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): engish

Original Script: 인싸, 아싸

Phonetic (Roman) Script: Inssa and Ahssa

Full translation: Insider and Outsider

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant, and it was translated from its original language Korean.

Informant: There’s this popular slang in Korea, especially for school and office settings, mostly college. It’s “Inssa” and “Ahssa”, they alway go in Paris. Inssa is shortened for insider, and ahssah is shortened for outsider. They describe the type of person you are in a given social setting. Insiders are those who can blend well with the crowd. They’re popular, outgoing, they’d get drinks all the time, talk to professors well, all that. Outsiders are, well, outsiders. They’re the people who don’t have any friends, who are not up to date with pop culture and all the new slangs.

Interviewer: Is this concept any different from the pre-established introvert and extrovert?

Informant: I think inssa and ahssa are more exclusively to these specific social settings, like schools, and more specifically colleges. I think it’s just a newer way of saying the same stuff, but it has slightly different tones. Introvert and extrovert are more like internal, personality trait things. I think you can be an introvert and an inssa, like you don’t have to be an extrovert to have good connections.

Interviewer: Are there any variations of these terms?

Informant: Yes. You can add the word ‘haek’ in front of them. Haek is Korean for nuclear, and Koreans use that word as kind of an additive to really emphasize things. So a ‘haek-inssa’ would be a really extreme insider, someone who knows everyone in their school. A haek-ahssa would be someone who’s like invisible.

Interviewer: How would you describe yourself when you were in college?

Informant: I think I was more of an inssa at first, but towards later years I jus stopped caring so much

Background:

My informant is a Korean male in his mid 20s, working as a barista in Seoul. He graduated from college already, but he describes himself as well versed with current Korean lingo and college culture.

Context:

The conversation took place on the phone. The informant was in house by himself in a comfforbtale setting.

My thoughts:

These new words came across as more jokey than serious, but they still gave me the sense that it was to point out people who weren’t outgoing. I’m not sure if categorizing everyone in these standards would be positive, but I did find the terminology very catchy.

Zzam-Tiger

--Informant Info--
Nationality: korean
Age: 24
Occupation: Barista
Residence: Seoul, Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: 14 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Original Script: 짬타이거

Phonetic (Roman) Script: Zzam tiger

Transliteration: Leftover tiger

Translation: Leftover cat

Main Piece:

The following conversation was translated from its original language Korean.

All Korean men have to serve in the military, so there’s a lot of military specific stuff and language that most men know. One thing that I remember is the zzam-tiger. “Zzam” is a shortened word for “zzanban” which means leftover food. Zzam tigers are cats that roam around army bases and eat leftover food. They are called tigers because I think it’s a cuter nickname, and Koreans just love anything that have to do with tigers. Most zzam-tigers are stray cats, but quite often there are upper ranking officers who bring their own pet cats to their bases, so it’s a mixed bag. But either way, no soldier is supposed to harm or even remotely be rude to the cat. Besides risking insulting your officer’s pet, why would you just be a dick to a cat? That’s mean. Most soldiers are really nice to these cats, because they’re cute. Most zzam-tigers are treated as mascots of those bases, and all bases have at least one zzam-tiger. It’s like having a communal pet. And it’s really therapeutic to have a cat around, because these cats are really friendly. They can also get rid of rats, if your base has any. Similarly, if your base has a dog, they are called zzam-wolf, and seagulls near navy ships are called zzam-phoenix. The part of the joke is to call them stronger than they really are. It’s part of the fun.

Background:

My informant is a Korean man in his mid 20s, who had just been discharged from his mandatory service about a year ago. His base also had a stray cat that was beloved by him and his fellow soldiers. Military jargon and tales are very a large part of Korean culture, especially for Korean men, as mandatory military service is an almost-universal experience for them. It is a unifying thing that most Korean men share, and a frequent conversation starter.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone. My informant was at his house in Seoul, Korea, and he was alone in a comfortable setting.

My thoughts:

It is common to find stories of animals living amongst soldiers all around the world. Most U.S. bases in foreign countries allow soldiers to have pets, and historically most navy ships and submarines had cats on board to get rid of rats. Animals are known for providing therapeutic presence, and for soldiers who have high stress occupations, having these animals around seem like an effective way to help them.

Irish Goodbye

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Orange County, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 15 February 200
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed form a conversation between the informant and the interviewer

Informant: The Irish goodbye is when you leave a party without letting other people know that you’re leaving. You just get up and leave. You might bump into a few people on your way out, and then you would have to announce you leaving, but the point is to not be going around the room and say goodbye to everyone, especially not the host, the host can’t know that you’re leaving.

Interviewer: Why is this associated with Ireland? Why is it called the “Irish goodbye”?

Informant: I don’t think anyone knows the exact story as to who or what in Ireland started it. But it’s just an Irish thing, I guess, and people just call it that now.

Interviewer: Can you think of any reason as to what about Irish culture that would bring up an abrupt departure?

Informant: The thing with Irish people is that everyone’s so fucking kind when they invite you over to their homes. Like my grandma, for example, always always have different kinds of tea, breads, meal, dessert, and more stuff ready. That’s just kinda true for all grandmas, but all Irish people are like that. To invite someone to my house means that you have to satisfy your guests, and that makes these hosts go a little crazy with the antics. So I think leaving without letting people know is actually a kind thing to do.

Interviewer: How so?

Informant: We’re saving the host from having to be all kind and whatnot, we just get up and leave. You’ll know I’m gone when I’m gone.

Interviewer: So this practice isn’t used to show disapproval?

Informant: No, no bad feelings at all. The exact opposite, really.

Background: My informant is of Irish and Scottish descent, his parents being immigrants from those respective countries. He still has most of his relatives living in Ireland and Scotland, and the cultures he aligns himself with are close to those mainlands rather than the diaspora – Irish American or Scottish American. The grandmother that he mentions is also an immigrant, who moved from Ireland to California in the late 80s.

Context: The conversation took place army informant’s house in Orange County, California. It was a familiar, comfortable setting.

My thoughts: I can’t say that I practice the Irish goodbye often myself, I tend to say goodbye to at least my friends. But hearing my informant talk the reasoning behind an abrupt departure, I do understand how it might actually deviate the host from that duty, and how it might actually be a kind gesture.

Daeden-Zzi: the Game

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Seoul, Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Original script: 데덴찌 in Korean, 手天地 in Japanese

Phonetic (Roman) Script: Daeden Zzi

Transliteration: The back of the hand and the palm

Full Translation: Back of the hand or palm, choose one

Main Piece:

Daeden zzi is a game played very commonly by kids in Korea. Daeden zzi isn’t the game tho, it’s simply a process to begin any given game. Basically, daeden zzi is a team dividing method. Let’s say a group of kids are trying to play basketball, and they have to divide up into two teams. Everyone would gather around in a circle, and they say “Daeden zzi” out loud. Kinda like rock paper scissors, at the end of the phrase you reveal your hand- whether it’s facing up or down, either the back of your hand or the palm – and you become teammates with everyone with the same hand as you. If it’s a game that requires an even number of people in each sides, you would repeat the process until everyone’s evenly split. If it’s a game that doesn’t require the same number of people, then you just roll it once.

What’s interesting is that Daeden zzi comes from a Japanese word that translates to “the back of the hand and the palm”, the name isn’t translated into Korean, it’s still a Japanese word that Koreans use. So unless you speak Japanese, a given Korean kid playing this game wouldn’t even know the name’s meaning, but they kinda do, they know that the game Daeden zzi refers to choosing between the back of the hand and the palm. Daeden zzi is one of many children’s games that come from Japan, a lot of these folk traditions came to Korea during the forced occupation under Japan in the early 1900s. Koreans don’t like Japan but a catchy game is a catchy game (laughs).

Background:

The informant is a college student residing in Seoul, Korea. She was born and raised there, and describes that she played the game daeden zzi quite often growing up, mostly from age 7 till middle school. She doesn’t remember when or how she specifically learned this game. She also has a study abroad experience in Irvine, California when she was in 4th grade, she went to an elementary school in America for a semester. During her time, she introduced the game to her non-Korean friends, effectively spreading the game. Though she’s not sure if the students at her school continued to practice the game after she had left, but it isn’t uncommon to find Korean American children play this game.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, while the informant was in her college dorm by herself, in her comfortable environment.

My thoughts:

I remember being a kid trying to divide up teams for whatever game I was playing. If the method of dividing was by having two team leaders pick a member at a time, it instantly creates a problem; there’s a power imbalance amongst the players, and it might hurt the feelings of those who aren’t chosen until the very end. In that sense, I think deaden zzi is the fairest method to divide everyone up- it’s purely random.

Wonhyo and the Skull Water

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Seoul, Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece:

The following was transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: Korean culture is built on Confucianism and Buddhist teachings are very common. So a lot of proverbs, old sayings, and things like that nature are based on these concepts. A very famous story that’s even relevant today is Wonhyo. Wonhyo was an early Buddhist monk, a scholar, and a philosopher in Shinla dynasty, which is around like during the 600s. The story goes that he was on his way to China for essentially a study abroad. One night on his journey, he found a cave to take shelter in and decided to spend the night there. Inside the cave he found a bucket of water, and because he was thirsty he drank it all and it was delicious- tasted like water. Next morning, we woke up and realized that it was actually a human skull not a bucket, and the water was actually like some remnants from the brain basically. He learned from that incident that everything is up to your own beliefs, because like he believed the water to be good and his body in part made him to believe that, you know, so he decided not to pursue the study abroad and came back to Shinla (Korea).

Interviewer: Can you give me examples of how this story has become modernized? How do people nowadays use it?

Informant: It’s mostly like for comedic, or funny situations. Like for example, I saw this post on Twitter that basically this girl who works at Subway ran out of salt, so whenever a customer would ask for more salt she’d had to shake an empty salt shaker just to front. But apparently one customer complained that there was too much salt in their sandwich. In that situation, Koreans would describe it as the ‘skull salt shaker’, it’s like you add skull in front of the object in question, that makes the joke.

Interviewer: Why and how do you think a story that old stayed relevant even till this day?

Informant: I think with stories like these, the older the better, because they’re so distanced from any time specific things that it makes the story almost universal. And it’s just a relatable morale, everything depends on how you decided to look at it, that’s something that people can think about, no matter what year it is.

Background:

The informant is a student living in Seoul, Korea. She’s finished all her general education (from elementary to high school) in Korea, and now currently goes to a college in Seoul. She describes that the first time she read about the story of Wonhyo was through a history text book in 5th grade. Even though the informant isn’t a practicing Buddhist (she describes herself as atheist, like most Koreans), these beliefs and teachings are widely accepted and used disregard one’s religious beliefs.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, while the informant was alone in her college dorm, in a safe and comfortable environment.

My thoughts:

Upon doing some research, I learned that there are a few different versions of the story of Wonhyo. In the Japanese telling, Wonhyo went inside a cave only to learn next morning that it was actually a grave (so the water and skull is absent in this version). In another telling, it’s the combination of the two- he went inside a grave and drank the skull water. No matter which version of the story is the most faithful to what actually happened, the central morale of the tale remains the same.

Blackbeard’s Treasure

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Charleston, South Carolina
Date of Performance/Collection: 10 April 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

So, Sullivan’s Island, where I’m from, is supposedly the home of Blackbeard’s treasures. It’s like an actual written document, Blackbeard at one point visited Charleston and held the city hostage for a few days in exchange of medical support on his crew. Charleston also was like a famous port hub for a whole lotta pirates, privateers, and whatnot during the Golden Age of Piracy, all this is factual. But supposedly, Blackbeard, before he died, he buried a good amount of his gold somewhere around the island during his visit to Charleston. The legend is that him seeking medical attention was just a distraction, and he just needed to securely hide his treasures in a remote enough location where no one else could find it. There have been actual treasure hunters who tried to find this, but I don’t think anyone has actually been able to. What’s crazy is that once in a while they fish up old Spanish gold or wreckage or something from that era neat Charleston in the ocean, because there have been a lot of ships that sunk near the city I guess. So these things keep adding validity to the supposed hidden treasure, it’s like teasing everyone for the actual, unbelievable fortune that’s hidden.

Background:

My informant is a 21 year old student, currently going to Duke University in North Carolina. She was born and raised in South Carolina, and is well versed with the local history of the city. Charleston is famously known for being a hub of trade during the Age of Discovery, and there have been famous pirates who made appearance at the city regularly, including Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach. My informant has stated that she learned about this legend through her friends when she was 10 years old.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, 3:30 pm for myself (PST) and 3:30pm for my informant (EST). My informant was alone in her room during the conversation.

My thoughts:

The myth behind pirate’s gold is so common and often seen as a complete hoax. Realistically, hiding one’s treasures underground doesn’t sound like the safest or smartest way to keep your valuables for anyone. But the reason why I think this story is so commonly told because of people’s built fantasy around pirates as story archetypes. Pirates have been romanticized through popular culture for decades, and I think by trying to find the hidden treasures people are actively trying to insert themselves into this mythos, becoming part of the fantasy pirates by obtaining what was left behind by them.

La Migra

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Santa Ana, Orange County, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 15 April 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: So when I was in 6th and 7th grade, the kids at my school would play this game during lunch called “La Migra”, it means ‘immigration’ in Spanish. Basically it’s like tag, whoever is the ‘catcher’ would run around and try to catch people. If you do catch someone, you yell “La Migra” and the one who got caught becomes the catcher, and so on.

Interviewer: Were the students participating in the game mostly Latinx? Or did kids of all ethnicities join?

Informant: I went to a really Mexican school, so everyone was pretty much Latinx yeah. I’m not sure if someone who’s not Latinx could even play this game, because so much of it is like, self inflicted harm (laughs).

Interviewer: Can you describe that further?

Informant: We were all very much around immigration and ICE and stuff our whole lives, like whether that be someone in our family or just someone we know. All that stuff, boarder patrol and whatnot, is just something that’s always present in our culture, and it’s really fucked up that it is. I think this game was kinda created because of that, for kids to like process this messed up reality into like a lunchtime game. Or maybe it was jut middle school kids being stupid and edgy as they all do, I don’t know.

Background:

My informant is of Latinx descent, and currently resides in Santa Ana, Orange County, a city where majority of the population is made up of Latinx people. The city of Santa Ana also has had city-wide protests against the mayor for failing to provide a safe environment for undocumented immigrants, as ICE raids increased and the city police provided aid to ICE during these raids.

Context:

The conversation took place on the phone, and the informant was in her room by herself.

My thoughts:

Middle schoolers can be really dark for the sake of being dark, it’s something about that age and puberty starting that makes everyone gravitate towards being ‘edgy’. But I think this game is more than just being provocative, I think it shows the very reality of children growing up in a hostile environment, coping with such stress by making a ridicule out of it.

So-Maek

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Seoul, Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece:

Original script: 소맥

Phonetic (Roman) script: somaek

Transliteration: (Acronym) Soju and Maekju

Full Translation: Soju and Beer

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: Koreans love drinking and there are a bunch of drinking games and traditions, but I think the most commonly known one is So-Maek. It’s basically a cocktail, and you make it by mixing soju and beer. Koreans love drinking so-maek because it’s more delicious than drinking either of them by itself, and it gets you drunk quicker for some reason.

Interviewer: Can you describe how you make this cocktail?

Informant: So basically the ratio of soju to beer is 3:7, that’s kinda the golden ratio. Since soju is much stronger than beer, the more you want to get wasted, the more soju you put and so on. A popular way of mixing this drink is you make a row of beer glasses, and place a row of soju shots on top of these beer glasses. You tap on the soju shot, then it has this domino effect and al the soju shots fall right into the beer glasses.

Interviewer: Are there any other variations of this so-maek recipe?

Informant: Another famous one is mixing called so-maek-col, which is basically so-maek with Coca Cola. Or, mixing soju with Yakult (yogurt beverage) is good too.

Background:

My informant is a college student (21 years old) living in Seoul, Korea. Seoul is famous for its nightlife, and with her age, my informant is particularly well versed in drinking culture, as well as being an active participant in it. Another important part of Korean drinking culture is that it’s something you learn from the elders, whether that be your parents or older friends. My informant told me that she learned how to make so-maek from a classmate who was older than her.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, while it was 12:30 am (PST) for myself and 4:30 pm (KST). The informant was at her dorm room, no other person was present in her room during the talk.

My thoughts:

Soju has become quite popular in the United States over the past decade, it’s not hard to find this alcoholic beverage at bars or restaurants. Like any ethnic culinary traditions, soju and soju cocktails are becoming a trend for a lot of non-Koreans, with more non-Korean establishments selling these recipes. While I think globalization of a culture is beautiful – the fact that everyone around the world can share this great cocktail recipe is exciting- but at the same time I can’t help myself but to think about the dangers of cultural appropriation- price influx and lack of credit to original owners.