Friday, August 17, 2012

Korean Diary Day 8

Sung Hyun ordered pizza for breakfast.  He didn't tell me -- it just showed up at the door.

Korean pizza is so yummy and is often decorated with various strange toppings like sweet potatoe, mayonnaise, chips, shrimp, corn.  Pretty much anything you can imagine goes on top.

Sung Hyun got pepperoni.  The garlic dipping sauce is the best part.  Pizza in Korea is my favourite.  It's probably a good thing I can't get this in Canada or I'd eat it everyday.

Mom sleeps in the kitchen hallway by the door when we are here

We sleep in the living/ dining/ everything room

Today I set out by myself so I could meet my good Korean friend -- which some of you suspected might have been a previous lover (teehee).  See here.  I meet Charlie 7 years ago when I first came to Korea.  We'll be friends forever!

We ate shabu shabu. 

That's meat and vegetables in a boiling broth.

First you boil the vegetables.  Don't forget to cut them with your scissors.  Then you add in the meat.  It cooks in like 20 seconds.

A pool and waterslide in the middle of the outdoor mall.  Geez, Korea is so random. 

After Charlie treated me to lunch we went for smoothies.

And we talked about life and goals and dreams like we always do.  We're good at that! 

Then I quickly went home to pick up Sung Hyun for a special meeting regarding the possiblity of being a visiting student in Korea next summer.  Before we left I got in my first fight with my Korean mom.

When Sung Hyun was in the shower getting ready to go, mom was asking me questions about what I was doing that night.  Sung Hyun said "okay I'm going to translate for you".  So I started off in Korean telling mom about where I was going and why. 

"Mom, I'm a student right now.  I am researching Korean students in Canada.  Tonight I'm going to meet with the Vice President of a university here because next summer I want to come to Korea alone and....."

"ALONE?"  She didn't let me continue.  "What about Sung Hyun?!!!!"  she snapped back.

I knew what she was thinking.  I knew that my job was to care for my husband.  I hung my head in disappointment.  She didn't even want to hear what I was going to say.  About how I might have an opportunity to come to Korea next year for my research in my graduate program. 

She repeated "what about Sung Hyun?  He'll stay in Canada alone?  Answer my question!"

I didn't answer her question. 

Finally after asking for a third time I responded with "MOM, I'm NOT a housewife!!!!"

"You're not?" she asked in surprise.  "Then what do you do?" 

"I work mom".  At this point I was already disappointed that my mom was not excited about my success as a student.  She didn't want to hear about any of it.  I certainly didn't feel like she was proud of me.  She was only interested in her son, not her daughter-in-law. 

Tonight my Korean mom became my Korean mother-in-law. 

She knew I was upset.  She could see it in my eyes.  I packed my bag and left without saying good-bye!  She chased me out of the house to kiss me on the cheek.  I didn't say a thing.


This lead to a good conversation with Sung Hyun and I regarding communication.  "This is why I don't communicate with my mom," he said.  "Everytime I say something she doesn't listen so she doesn't care.  Sometimes it's just better not to say anything at all.  I can't communicate with my mom.  My sisters too, they sometimes don't say things to mom.  Sometimes a small lie is better." 

I see this with my husband.  We've worked really hard in our relationship to build a solid base of communication where we both feel safe to express ourselves.  It takes trust and sometimes our egos need to be pushed aside.  But despite our language barrier we are successful at this.   

Maybe I over reacted with my mom.  But I cannot deny that I felt hurt.  Okay, enough of that!

Cookies on the subway

Books too :)

Samgyupsal (pork) for supper

Along with a few glasses of beer and shots of soju.  I've never tried putting pepper at the bottom of my shot glass but the spicyness of it really takes away from the strong soju taste.  It was a nice realization.  I lived in Korea for 5 years and this is the first time I've tried it.

Mr. Lims daughter.  I teach her private lessons in Canada.  She's on vacation in Korea visiting her family before she starts high school next month.  It was cool to see her with her dad.  He's a philosophy professor.

And the meeting was a success.  It looks like being a visiting student next summer will be possible on this end.  In Korea it is often more about who you know.  Now I need to work hard to put together a proposal, much like this, and get it approved in Canada.  The process in Canada always appears to be a bit more lengthy and time consuming.  Now I need to squeeze in a bit of time on my vacation to work. 

Alcohol makes my husband turn red

After ripping up the hot pepper and putting it in my soju glass I touched my face.  It went all red and felt like it was on fire!  This lasted a good 2 hours.

Red everywhere!

Sung Hyun came home, showered, went out drinking with another friend, returned at 3 am where I found him in the kitchen making ramyen noodles.  He said "I'm hungry because I throw up all of the food.  My stomach is a empty."

Observations of the Day:

1.  Connections are key.  If you're new to Korea, learn to network.  It will help you a lot. 

2.  I can't decide if I should revisit the issue with my Korean mom or just let it be.  I have no problems telling her exactly how she made me feel.  I have no problems telling her that I'm sorry I didn't say good-bye to her when I left for the evening.  This direct straightforward approach is not how Koreans would deal with this situation.  It would be best to just do nothing and pretend that it didn't happen.  This would be an example of 'saving face'.  What would you do?

3.  Soju is dangerous -- BEWARE!!


Foreigner Joy said...

I would give it some time and maybe take her out somewhere.

Since you guys are there in person she probably has a lot of questions. I'm sure from her perspective she can't quite understand her husband's wife. But if you approach her without letting it get to you it might help. I mean try to listen to her message and not how she delivers it.

Remind her that you take care of him in other ways and tell your hubby to remind her that he is a happy and satisfied husband.

I'm sure in time she will see that whether u are at home all the time or at work, her son is loved.

Jacky said...

I think I would drop it. If she's happier living in ignorance, I think you'd both be happier not arguing about it. Maybe let her bring it up later if she chooses to. My boyfriend's parents are uncomfortable talking through Alex so we have very little conversations. Even though you had an unpleasant confrontation, I'm a little envious to not even know their personalities/views.

Shelley said...

You just can't get around the cultural expectations sometimes. It might just be better to leave it be, she is never going to change her thinking. You can try and explain it to her, but don't expect her to suddenly get it. Believe me, you know I know this first had. I could write a book about me and my MIL's differences.

Amyable said...

I would drop it and go back to behaving as a loving daugheter (as if nothing happened). This will likely come up again so you'll have another chance (or multiple chances) to argue/discuss again.

Amyable said...

What happened to day 8?

Why am I here??? said...

Thanks for that catch Amyable. I just mistyped the days. Don't worry I didn't leave out any day.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Sorry to hear about how your mother-in-law reacted to your schooling, etc.. That is tough. I would definitely talk to her about it again.

That pizza looks great!