The Holidays in Korea

I apologize for the long break between posts. I know I said I would be able to write in mornings at work, but I’ve been mad busy the past week or two. Truthfully, work has been really bad, and if I had written something before now, it would’ve just been some long bitch-fest, so it’s probably for the best that I didn’t write anything. I was actually motivated to write this because of something that happened last night. After a night out, a friend and I were in the 24 hour KFC downtown getting a nightcap. Another group of foreigners came in, and they were discussing one of the photos on the walls. Apparently, the stock photo that someone had chosen to use in the store had a book in it that is rather strange. The Eletric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. It’s essentially a book that chronicles the early history of LSD use in the US, so it’s rather amusing that it’s plastered on the wall of a KFC in Korea. Anyway, my friend interrupted because he wasn’t sure about the author, and after a little discussion, the guy came over and introduced himself. Another Colin. Gotta love meeting those guys. Anyway, on the way out, we said goodbye, and a girl at the table asked me if I was the Colin, as in Colin in Cheonan.

So I stopped and had a small conversation. I’ve had similar things happen. People just say they Google Cheonan and my blog is one of the first hits, I guess. My blog is how I started with the hapkido class, and I’ve had people mention that they’ve read my blog before. Still, she said that it was really helpful for her, which was a first, so cheers to that. It was a strange ego boost. Not trying to say I’m a celebrity or anything, but it’s definitely a cool experience. WordPress keeps statistics on how many people visit your site and what they search for to find it and all, but I stopped looking at those. The stats got too depressing. When I first started, I could get around like 50 views per post basically, but when it started sinking into the 20s I just stopped looking. Still, I guess if only 20 people see it but it’s useful or entertaining to them, then I guess it’s worth it.

Anyway, it’s Christmas here in Korea, though honestly it doesn’t feel very much like it. People who know me well already know that I’m not a Christmas person to begin with. I haven’t celebrated Christmas in 10 years now. I just quit celebrating it freshman year of high school. I don’t really feel like I need to get scrooge-y on a soap box about why I don’t like it though. I don’t really wave it in people’s faces. Anyway, I was thinking recently about how when Thanksgiving rolled around, I had really looked forward to it, but back in the States, I wasn’t like super excited for Thanksgiving either. I thought maybe being away from home I might get more sentimental about Christmas this year, but I really haven’t.

Part of the problem is that Christmas really isn’t that big a deal here. Kids get presents, and families spend time together, but it’s not like a huge deal like in America. In two separate conversations last night, I found the perfect analogy for how Christmas in Korea feels. It feels like the week after Halloween when you first start seeing Christmas decorations in Target and stores like that. It’s in the back of your mind, but it still feels like it’s a long way away. That’s a pretty good way to describe Christmas in Korea, in my opinion. It’s almost hard to believe looking at a calendar that it’s actually Christmas today.

Tonight I’ll be going to a newly made Korean friend’s house for dinner with another friend. Other than that, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I had wanted to go to Seoul, but I’ll have to see how much I’m up to traveling after dinner. I discovered this morning that my scooter is leaking oil really badly, and the bike shop near my place is either closed for the weekend or Christmas, so it’ll be a day or two before I can get it looked at. Harsh.

Also, New Years Eve is not a big deal in Korea. It’s just not special. The lunar/Chinese New Year is much more important. It’s a three day event. This year, it’s the 2nd through 5th of February. So, that’s the big important holiday in Korea. Still, it’s not like NYE in America. They don’t use it as an excuse to go get wasted and make out with people. It’s a more serious, family-centered holiday that revolves around tradition and honoring elders and ancestors. It just strikes me as so strange that NYE is not really celebrated much here. The most people do is go watch the sunrise and have a romantic moment with their boy/girlfriend. Either way, for NYE I’ll be going to Hongdae to see a friend put on some music and I’m sure that if something is going on in Seoul for NYE it’ll be happening in Hongdae, so it should be a hopping night there. Already looking forward to it.

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