“Every New Years, as a child, I remember being so excited to wear my pretty dress. My mom would take down the white box from our closet and when she opened it, my dress was there, waiting for me to put it on. My dress was bright red with hints of green and gold. My mom would help me put it on; I needed her to help me because I didn’t know how to tie the bow on the front of the dress. It had to be tied a certain way, not your ordinary ribbon. She would then braid my hair and put it up in a bun. I always felt like a princess with the silk dress rubbing against my skin. My sister and I would spin and spin, watching the dress puff up, creating a really pretty circular shape. There was a flap on the front of my dress where I can fold and hide my hands behind, to show respect to the elders. If I could, I would have worn this dress everyday, but Hanbok is a traditional Korean dress that my family only wore during New Years.”
When Irene started telling me about this tradition that she practiced as a child, I couldn’t help but smile because this was exactly what I did as a kid with my family. I grew up in the United States most of my life as well, but my family still celebrated Korean New Years and I wore Hanbok like Irene did. I never really thought of all this as a tradition, but now that I’ve grown up and I’ve stopped wearing Hanbok, I treasure this Korean ritual even more. Talking about this with someone who’s done the same thing was fun, especially exchanging stories we both identify with.
Irene Choi is a 21 year old, junior, studying Theatre Set Design. She is a friend that I have always heard about, but got close to because we took a class together. All the stories that she told me are from the Korean culture. She grew up living in the United States most of her life, so the folktales are whatever she heard and learned from her parents. She identifies herself as a second generation Korean, but tries her best to keep her identity as a Korean.
Irene told me her folklores in a casual setting. We were spending time together and I just randomly asked her to share any folklore she had.