life in Korea

I had to replace my husband

Well, not my actual husband, but the dad from my owl family.

I took the original owl dad to my Korean patchwork class to show my teacher.  Her response was “That’s really nice.  Can I have it?”  That seems a bit rude to westerners, but is quite acceptable in Korean culture.  Respect of age and authority are very important to Koreans.  Often when I meet someone the first question they will ask is “How old are you?”  The first time this happened (a stranger on the elevator) I was a bit shocked, however, knowing someone’s age is important to establish the chain of respect.  In the Korean language, even the way you greet someone is different if the person is older or younger than you.

Since my teacher is a double authority (older, teacher) culturally I am obligated to defer to her.  This has not been a big issue since we have not had any conflict.  Anytime she has strongly pushed colour selection or pattern style, I have gone along with her because I wanted it to look Korean-style.  I’m sure if I have inadvertantly done anything rude, she has attributed it to my western ignorance.

Koreans are also very generous and hospitable.  We were warned before we came that if a Korean invited us to their home and we complimented them on something, they would feel obligated to give it to us.  Most times I have been in someones home, they have given me or my children a small gift, even though I try hard not to “ask” for things.  These are the unwritten cultural rules that are most difficult to learn.

When my teacher asked if she could have the owl, I quickly gave it to her.  I had lots of fabric left to make another one, and she has been a great teacher.  I have learned so much from her and I was wondering what to give her as a gift.  I only have a couple more classes and I will really miss it.  That class has been one of my favourite things in Korea.

The picture above is dad #2.  Don’t tell my real husband.  He’ll never know.


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