My Chuseok

I have to write a short essay on the subject “How I spent my Chuseok” for my Korean Language and Culture class.  Yes, that’s a real assignment for a real class.  Anyway, here’s what I ended up writing.


How I experience Chuseok

For the past five years I have spent Chuseok with my wife’s family. I have to assume that that my Chuseok experience is fairly typical.

On Friday, the night before Chuseok, I left work early, both to see my wife’s family and because everyone else at my company was doing it as well. I got home at seven only to find that nobody was home. My wife, her mother and sisters were all out shopping for groceries and getting things together for Chuseok. They got home around 8:30, so in the meantime I watched television. My wife called me and told me to buy some beer because my brother-in-law wanted to drink, and I did even though I didn’t really feel like drinking. I bought the beer and came home. My in-laws, sister-in-law and her husband, my wife and I had dinner and then out came the beer. It turned out that my brother-in-law didn’t want to drink either, so we ended up being forced to drink together against our wills. As soon as the last glass was empty he went home and I went straight to bed.

The next day I studied for the CPA exam in my room while the women prepared all the food. I came out only to eat intestine stew (곱창전골) for lunch. Saturday evening my wife’s uncle and his wife came over and I had to drink again. This time we drank soju with 오디즙 mixed in. It tasted like a cross between grape juice and gasoline.

On Sunday we woke up around eight, put on pants and socks, set up the Chuseok offering table, did our bows and changed into shorts within about an hour. We had a huge spread of food: 잡채, three kinds of fish, boiled pork, 산적, fried fish and zucchini, ribs (my favorite), 약과, apples, pears, grapes, and plenty of cooked vegetables. Like everyone, I ate far too much, and spent the rest of the day laying around the house and eating 약과, marveling at how someone had essentially found a way to fry corn syrup. On Sunday night everyone was too sick of food and alcohol to drink in our house, but of course many of our neighbors had rousing soju parties and we had to wear ear plugs to bed.

On Monday about ten of my wife’s aunts and uncles came to our house. I went to Starbucks to study, but despite what some people think you can’t stay in Starbucks forever. When I finally got home the house was overflowing with people laughing, drinking, and telling stories about people I don’t know, so my wife and I holed up in our room and I studied some more. I had to get up at five on Tuesday so I would have liked to go to bed early but there was a loud party going on in our living room so I got to bed around eleven when everyone left. I was tired on Tuesday.

While I will naturally never know how typical my Chuseok experience is, it’s mine, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.


~ by Joshing on September 21, 2008.

One Response to “My Chuseok”

  1. Ha, I can’t help but think I’d have added something after, “while the women prepared all the food” along the lines of, “because, as my fiancee likes to say, women do all the real work in Korea.” I wonder what kind of grade I’d get?

    Yes, I am catching up, and glad to see you posting again. I’m behind on everyone’s site, but, well, the semester’s almost over now! 🙂

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