[singlepic=896,250,250,left]The exodus of more than 10 million Seoulites to their hometowns started yesterday. The Lunar New Year holiday is from the 25th to the 27th of January. For married Korean women (or foreign spouses of Koreans), the holiday isn’t all that fun as it means slave labor. Women stay in the kitchen almost the whole day preparing meals and food offering for the ancestral rites. The men are not expected to do anything! (However, the men in my family are expected to make ë§Œë„ (man-du or Korean dumplings) and wash the dishes.)
It is so tempting to hire a helper on these days, but it isn’t possible in my husband’s family since there are two other daughters-in-law. A few of my Filipina friends who are also married to Koreans can get away from this slave labor by giving money to their mothers-in-law. That isn’t possible in my case since my husband is the poorest in the family. In short, my mother-in-law has more money than I could ever afford to give her. Luckily, my husband is the third son and I’m not expected to do more than the other myeonneuri (ë©°ëŠë¦¬daughters-in-law) in the family. The real work rests on the shoulders of the first daughter-in-law, my keun hyongnim (í°í˜•ë‹˜ – my eldest sister in law who is married to the first son).
Anyway, the good thing about the lunar new year, which is called ì„¤ë‚ (romanized as “seol-nal” but pronounced as “seol-lal”) is that this is also the season for gift giving. I got a box of Pantene Hair Fall Control shampoo, conditioner and ampule set from my “wonjangnim” (hagwon owner) while my husband received a box of canned goods (relief?). We gave the canned goods away to the guards at our building. It’s a no-no for my husband who prefers naturally-prepared food. (Back home, I usually get promotional pens as holiday gifts.)
After the ancestral rites on the morning of New Year’s Day, money called ìƒˆë±ƒëˆ “se-be-don”. Of course, we greet each other ìƒˆí•´ë³µë§Žì´ë°›ìœ¼ì„¸ìš” or “Please receive a lot of blessings this new year.” Time to take out the hanbok!