Saturday, February 17, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon

Yesterday Korean Mother received a present from one of her friends for the Lunar New Year, which falls this weekend. As the associated Lunar Festival is dominated by a mix of family and food, a bulk order of Frozen Yellow Croaker Product of China was perfectly in order, and no doubt will end up in many of the dishes tomorrow. It may tell you something about Busan residents' attitude to seafood that she quite happily left the fish out by the sink while we went out, despite the obvious odour consequences for the entire apartment.

The local market was unexpectedly out in the streets today - it transpires that because of the New Year they're having it today and tomorrow. People need to buy a lot of food, and there were a lot of customers. The bank was also crowded - not just because it's shut on Monday for the holiday like most places - but also because there were a queue of people waiting to exchange their money for new banknotes which will then be given to children who come to New Year's breakfast. This is a tradition and it has to be new money to symbolise the new year. As children - though not the kind who are young enough to financially benefit from this arrangement - it's also expected that we give a gift (or money in the absence of a gift) to our Korean Parents.

Today my wife went over to help her mother prepare the food for tomorrow, but in a sign that I am rapidly settling into my role as a Korean husband, I stayed at home and did nothing. The food preparation took turned out to be a mammoth task that took from 10am until 8pm, with me popping over for an hour to be fed. In another sign that my assimilation is continuing, I happily ate fried prawns and potato over a box of now cooked fish with melted eyeballs, and it really didn't bother me.

Tomorrow we're supposed to be up early for a special breakfast, and a visit to the temple where everyone will be asking Buddha for good fortune in the new year, and I'll be asking if he can sort out a 100-point drop in the FTSE.

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