Eun-byul had to translate the same message from her mom to me over and over again, “I am sorry we are not a normal Korean family. We don’t celebrate Chuseok the way the rest of the country does. I don’t stay in the kitchen cooking all day.”
Eun-byul’s brother, Han-byul, had already warned me on the bus ride from Seoul to Wonju… “We don’t celebrate Chuseok like a normal Korean family. And we like Western food. Do you like pancakes? That is what we eat for breakfast.”
DO I LIKE PANCAKES? Typical Korean families eat rice and kimchi for breakfast. This was my first time spending Chuseok (the Korean version of our Thanksgiving) with a Korean family. It was like the Oh family was made for me.
The first morning we had pancakes and scrambled eggs. Then the Oh family learned I like meat. I like meat a lot. Our second breakfast was a bit more Korean. I ate rice for breakfast for the first time, and you know what? I loved it. Especially because the main food was MEAT. Steak, LA steak? I can’t remember what they called it, but I have never had meat that early in the morning, or that much of it, and it was the best breakfast of my life. We had meat for at least three of our meals over the vacation, Han thanked me, “Melody, because of you… we eat a lot of meat.” Hehe, no problem Han!
After spending two nights at Eun-byul’s home in Wonju, we packed up early on Thursday morning and headed to the O2 resort in Taebaek. Do I know where that is? No. But I never know where I am going (usually) when I hop on a bus or get in a car in this country. I have learned to embrace it.
On the way to our resort I read a book on my kindle, wanting to make it easier for Eun-byul. I didn’t want her to have to translate everything her parents were saying. Eventually the van erupted with laughter. Over and over and over again, as Han told a story from the driver’s seat (Eun-byul told me later to be grateful her brother drove and not her dad). I didn’t really question the laughter, I am just not that curious about things… but luckily Eun-byul felt the need to translate once the story was done, and I am so glad she did!
Han had been explaining how he accidentally went on a blind date with a dude. See, in Korea, blind dates are very common, that’s how couples meet and get married because they are too busy studying in high school to gain social skills with the opposite sex, by the time they get to college they don’t know how to ask someone on a date, so they ask their friends to set them up on blind dates… at least that is my understanding. I am sure that is not the whole story.
Anyway, back to Han. Apparently, there was a special showing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s at a theater in Seoul and he really wanted to go but couldn’t get a ticket. His friend told him that another friend had two tickets, and his girlfriend dumped him, so he had an extra… and did he want him to ask if he would be willing to give it to Han? Han was super excited (he loves his chick flicks I guess) and told his friend to ask the poor guy who just got dumped if he could have his ticket. Well, the guy agreed to give it to Han and the mutual friend gave them each other’s phone numbers.
To understand the rest of the story you need to know that Han-byul can also be a female name in Korean (kind of like Jordan and Aaron/Erin) and in the Korean language they do not have the pronouns he/she or him/her.
So Han starts communicating with the guy who was dumped and thanks him for giving him the extra ticket, and did they want to meet at the theater, etc. The guy starts insisting they meet early enough to grab dinner before the movie. Han thinks it’s a bit weird, but agrees. Then on the day of the movie he ends up running late. He texts the guy and tells him that they should just skip dinner and he will meet him right before the movie.
The guy says, “No, no no! I want to get to know you and talk, I will find a place for us to eat, you have a lot to do to get ready.” So, basically he is thinking that Han needs to put a lot of make-up on and primp and prep for their blind date… Han starts to realize that this guy thinks he is a girl. He sends the texts to other friends and says, “does he think this is a blind date?!!!” his friends say, “definitely.”
Han knows he should tell the guy that he is also a guy… but he thinks that if he does, the guy won’t give him the ticket, and he really wanted to see the movie. So. He doesn’t tell him. He arrives at their meeting spot and calls him up, immediately hearing the change in the guy’s voice when he starts to speak. He sees him coming down the escalators and his eyes do dark, then blank.
The guy who was dumped and his expecting a hot blind date barely says a word. When Han offers to buy him dinner he says he is not hungry (though minutes before he was texting him saying, “Get here quick! I want to meet you! I am hungry!” After the movie Han tries to make small talk, “So that was good yeah?” The guy mumbles that he has to go and leaves.
Well, Han got to see his chick flick. And he now has a great road trip story to share. I couldn’t stop laughing for a long time.
The rest of the trip was spent taking these pictures. It was SO NICE leaving the city behind me for a few days and enjoying fresh air. The Ohs were a fun and funny family to take pictures of and with. I loved my Chuseok with the Oh’s!
I love this chingu. Until next Chuseok…