21 April 2004

A Day in the City, an evening with the Ancestors

Spent the day yesterday in the city with my son. One thing to be aware of is that, while a single Miguk stands out, one with a kid in tow (or being towed by a kid?) stands out even more. This time, we attracted more attention from the grandfathers, several of which approached my son to admire him When he travels with his mom, then it is the grandmothers that approach him. But one good thing was my son's decision to treat me to Lotteria for a bulgogi burger set... of course he has more money than me cause he's cuter and can't visit a relative or friend without having 10,000, 30,000 or even 50,000 won deposited into his pocket.

In the afternoon we met up with a former student, a life-long "white-hand," living without a job and bumming off the folks. But he is looking, and has his eyes set on a managerial spot at a clothing store. Korea has a fairly high (by Korean standards) unemployment rate for recent college graduates (recent as in less than a decade...). One problem with having such a high rate of education is that there are way too many over-qualified workers who don't want menial tasks, so while there ARE jobs available, these are being filled by immigrant workers while the Korean college graduates go overseas for a year or two to pass the time while waiting to try to get a job.

In the evening, we went off to my wife's father's eldest living brother's house for an evening memorial service for their parents. It was less solemn that I expected, though I am not really sure what it was that I expected. There was plenty of food set out, though, stacks of fish and assorted seafood, fruits, nuts, side-dishes, rice, chicken and duck, alcohol, and more. There was the main table for the grandfather and two grandmothers and a smaller side table for all the rest of the ancestors, who got a third the number of plates, each with three types of food on them. One of the things that may have made this one a little less organized was that they were trying a new version of the memorial service, so they had instruction books and read along as they performed the various rituals. Mostly what it seems like was a reason o get together, remember the parents, hang out with family and eat and drink a lot, something that is getting to be a pattern this week as we continue to celebrate my father-in-law's 60th birthday.

Well, this was not terribly insightful, but I will have a little more research to do to get anything more useful, and anyway, its off for a fun-filled day of shopping.

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