Monday, April 1, 2013

Korean Birthday

I am a little behind in my blogging but I will try to catch up today. A couple of weekends ago was Jihyeon’s fathers birthday. He was kind enough to invite me to spend the day with his family and share a meal with me. I had met him on one previous occasion soon after arriving in Korea but I was very sick at the time.

So off I went to Iksan again. At the train station I noticed something interesting. I have walked past it a few times but never taken much notice of it. Can you guess what it is?

It is a parking structure for push bikes. I have seen this sort of thing a couple of times for cars (you drive your car into a lift at street level, and the lift carries your car automatically to a parking space). This is a similar thing, but for bikes!

Both Jihyeon’s parents speak no English, so I had to do my best to get in their good books without speaking English. Korea is very big on customs and rituals and buying gifts for the both the parents is seen as quite an important thing. Greeting people appropriately is also seen as a very important thing. You need to bow and use respectful greetings and only shake hands if the older person extends their hand to shake your hand. If you do shake hands, the younger person needs to use both hands when shaking the older person’s hand. 

The gifts and greetings went well. I didn’t put my foot in it, though in hind sight red wine wasn’t the best gift for Jihyeon’s father. I bought her mother a small plate in Australia which was decorated by an aboriginal artist which she seemed to really like.

As with all birthday parties there was food and cake. The food was great. There was smoked duck, bulgogi, seaweed soup (standard thing for Koreans to eat on their birthday) and a large array of side dishes (which were all great) and rice (standard with every meal). We all sat on the floor around a low table and ate until we were about to burst (well, I ate until I was about to burst) and then there was cake…..

I was really excited about the cake. Would it be chocolate? Would it be sponge? What cake do they eat in Korea for their Birthday. I turns out they eat rice cake…. I don’t mind it but it is not as good as Chocolate cake :(. The “cake” is made up of many small rice cakes of different flavours and textures.

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