Friday, April 20, 2007

Wild Seed

We all want to be lucky, but it's been my experience that good luck - or the desire for good fortune - is particularly ingrained in Asian Cultures, and Korea is no different. It's what lies underneath the surface of the rituals we go through here, and why the fear of the wider social network turning against us is so palpable.

So when a large plant which Korean Mother bought two years ago, and which only flowers once every ten years, suddenly came into bloom, it was the cause of much excitement in her immediate social circle; i
n Korean, the plant (a Dracaena subspecies) is called a 'luck tree' - '행운목' ('행' means luck). It seems that these luck trees are sometimes bought as gifts, especially on occasions when luck is felt to be important, such as starting a new business.

Korean Mother's Friends came round to visit, one imagines partly in the hope of some of that good fortune rubbing off on them, and it wasn't long before we had our official viewing as well. This being Korea, she has of course taken a multitude of photographs of said flower with her mobile phone, so I think she's genuinely quite excited by it, but perhaps in a nod to the ethereal nature of these things she hasn't rushed off and bought a supply of lottery tickets - although it seems this is not an uncommon response in some other people.


Anonymous said...

Nice blog... Good to read something from someone who isn't (1) American or Canadian (2) a teacher (3) in Seoul!

Mike said...

Thanks for the blog comment. I suppose many foreigners come here to teach, and I'm afraid that using my TEFL qualification is one of the backup plans if I ever quit my current job, but I just don't think I have the skill or stamina to stand up in front of a class of children every day.

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