Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Four Seasons

Apparently today is the start of summer in the Korean lunar calendar, but aside from an unseen monk loitering somewhere near our apartment chanting and banging his mogtag ('목탁') there was little to mark the occasion and in any case, it's already been uncomfortably hot for weeks. There was a lot happening in Trafalgar Square in London though. Go figure.

As time has moved on my thoughts have turned increasingly to the question of where I might base myself in the next few years, and there are no prizes for guessing that Korean Family would probably like that to be here rather than the UK. So when I complained to Korean Mother about the heat lately, it set up a rather more robust defence of the Korean weather than one might have thought necessary without this increasingly important subtext. Apparently attempting to spin something negative into a positive, she delivered her reply with the conviction of a closing defence lawyer in a trial - Korea has four seasons - and stared at me for extra effect as though somehow I would suddenly realise what a truly remarkable place this was and how I should welcome the soaring temperatures as a triumph of Korean something-or-other. So I told her that in England - where our weather is notoriously changeable - we had four seasons as well, sometimes in the space of the same week. This didn't seem to go down terribly well, and maybe not just because of the brewing subtext battle.

Of course, I've heard that Korea has four seasons before, because it is something of a running joke amongst foreigners here, but the seriousness with which it's treated is somewhat inexplicable. I might have to be careful who I explain Britain's version of the four seasons to here. Or maybe I'll just go the other way with it and start telling people that we actually have five seasons back home. Decisions, decisions.

One thing we don't have - at least not officially anyway - is a monsoon season. The forecasters here have been telling us for a few days now that Korea's month of rain will start on the 22nd, after which of course, it gets even hotter...

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