Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Hot Bed

When I originally moved into a one-room apartment with my girlfriend, in was a blank slate, to be furnished with what few possessions we deemed it necessary to buy. But moving into an apartment with Korean Mother has certainly taken my experience to a whole new level, as I find myself immersed in more Korean objects. This cylindrical wicker-looking affair is for sleeping with, but it is not, as I first thought, one of the many tortuous pillow-substitutes you can find the older generation resting their heads on at night.

This is in fact, a sleeping companion of sorts, called a '죽부인' ('jugbuin'). It's actually made from bamboo, and the idea is that when positioned next to you in bed at night and hugged, air can circulate within the enclosed space, which in combination with the bamboo, keeps you cooler. It's unclear however, whether there's a danger of waking up with a deeply imprinted diagonal pattern on your body...

Prompted by Cat's comment, I have to edit this to add that that it transpires '죽부인' literally means 'bamboo' (죽) 'wife' (부인). Interestingly, it also transpires that strictly speaking '부인' is the respectful form for somebody else's wife. Since committing adultery is actually illegal in South Korea, this might be the closest you can get without actually breaking the law.


Cat said...

I saw these on sale up here (Seoul) with a sign in English that called them a "bamboo wife." (??)

Anyway, when I asked, I got the same explanation as to what it was for. Not sure about the creative translation. :-)

Mike said...


Yes, my wife has just told me that '죽부인' literally means 'bamboo' (죽) 'wife' (부인).

I wish she had shared this with me earlier because somehow that just makes them more bizarre.

Evidently my Korean has not yet advanced to the stage where I can work these things out for myself.

Interestingly, it also transpires that strictly speaking '부인' is the respectful form for somebody else's wife, which means that...

Jon Allen said...

We bought one when we there.
I had always seen them translated as "Dutch Wives". We never did figure out where that came from.

I tried it once, but it was way too uncomfortable and soon put it to one side.

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