Main piece: Informant shared a Korean proverb which he translated to “Don’t fix your shoelace in the melon bed and don’t adjust your hat under a plum tree”.
Relationship to the piece:
Informant is a Korean-American whose parents immigrated from Korea to the US. He learned this piece of proverb from his culture and parents.
The informant explained the proverb as a metaphor to “not do things that will make you look suspicious”. Since crouching down to fix ones shoelaces in a melon bed would make it look like one is stealing the melons and likewise for the plum tree and stealing plums. This proverb is used to warn and teach people what not to do.
This proverb’s use of the “melon bed” and the “plum tree” seems specific to Korea as melons and plums are more common fruits in Asian culture therefore would be more likely to appear in a proverb rather than pumpkins or apples which might be more common in western proverbs. The idea that you should not do anything that would make you seem suspicious even if you have the right intentions seems like an Asian ideal that appearances and reputation is more important than individuality. Fixing the hat and shoelaces are also perfectionist and conforming actions that are more emphasized or expected in Asian cultures like Korea.