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providing a home for unfounded generalizations and rash decision making

6/1/09 10:33 am - 정 may be responsible for why I feel the way I do about Korea

Hey y'all..
Yes, it's been a while, so much so that I briefly forgot my own login as I typed in the address to this page. Whew! well. I'm back.
and I'm in Korea again, after a year-long stint in Toronto back with the fam and friends.
so, I'm in Incheon now, teaching at a private language school... and I'm studing Korean. Lots.
So! I just learned an incredible word: . (jeong). Naver defines it like this: 정 【감정】feeling;【정서】emotion;sentiment;【애정】love;affection;【열정】passion;【인정】human nature;【동정】sympathy;compassion;【심정】heart...so you can see it's a word heavy with meaning.
I have been reading more about it, and it seems to encompass the feelings of compassion, friendliness and kindness. Now that I know there is a word for this action/feeling, I feel a lot more aware of it in this culture.
Prior to this new discovery, I thought the kindness of people in this country was just based on Confucianism, (which it is).. including ideas about loyatly in relationships, family piety, generosity, modesty, and majorly intense rituals for ancestors. This kind of humanity can be seen everywhere in Korea. On the subway, if an old man or woman comes on, someone will almost always stand up and give them a seat, without even really acknowledging it, or not expecting to be thanked. Or, when you walk into Starbucks and you see a woman's purse sitting on an unoccupied table, it means she is reserving that table, and everyone knows it, so her purse won't (likely) be stolen because it would be against the Korean 정 to do that. (at least, I've seen it a dozen times so that's how I think it is.. but I'm not Korean, so I don't really really know, you know?)
It seems now, to me, that Confucianism exists now in Korean culture as 정. I think 정 is based in these general ideas of human compassion, and it makes me more and more grateful to be in this amazing country. And I feel so lucky that I have enough time and patience (so far) to study this language. Every time I tire of studying, I come across a new word that re-inspires my whole desire to learn this language in the first place. I love finding words that there are no exact English translations for...... and there are lots of those here. :) like the word 금방...geum bang. it means.."the time around the present.." like, just prior, or soon after. I guess our word for 금방 is "nowish".
Anyway, I'm writing all this, because I want to bring more 정 into my own life, and I'm wondering if any of you have examples of "jeong" in your life. Helping someone across the street, being loaned money when you needed it... strangers showing kindess.. I'd love you to share. I know I have a ton of examples too. share the !

4/21/08 11:26 pm

7/6/07 11:36 pm - hanoi

i just crossed the border from china yesterday, which was a strange adventure itself.. the lawn-mower that we rode on to get to the border crossing, walking 600m in no-man's land territory on the "friendship pass" and then waiting in line at the so over-crowded immigration office while being butted by vietnamese dudes handing their passports and 100,000 dong to get in and out fast....
hanoi is just like a game where the object is to get from one side of the street to the other without getting swiped by a motorbike/cyclo/taxi/bicycle/cloud of smoke. the mad honking is polite, to let someone know you're coming up behind them, so unlike the way i used to think of honking...
i'm so happy on this side of the world.....there's just such a feeling that i never felt before, especially here in vietnam. people are very friendly and relaxed and enjoying life (i think).. we saw a man sleeping on the street today, and we walked past that same man later in the evening and he was awake and gave us a big smile as we walked by.. and even bartering prices for things (which is for everything you buy off the street) it's sort of a joke.. you want 40? how about 5? 5!!! but this is very good quality!! ok, 6. oh no... 30 is ok.. ok, 10! ok!
oh i am so thankful to be here....

5/31/07 11:40 pm - 14 days left in korea

i'm leaving korea in 2 weeks, and i'm feeling the days whizzing by. i'm getting nostalgic already, and i know i'm going to miss my cute students so much, and the amazing kindness and generosity of all the people i've met in this country. here are a few of my experiences from the last couple of weeks...

why i adore korea...Collapse )

5/9/07 12:31 pm - more self-reduction

emily and i playing that terribly overplayed song.

5/9/07 12:15 pm - look what we've been reduced to...

this is emily (my buddy in korea) and i sharing the beauty of giant beer with the world

4/24/07 01:14 am - jim jil bangs and being naked and looked at

i have just discovered my new favorite passtime... the jim jil bang.

allow me to elaborate: a jim jil bang is a series of dry sauna rooms... all different sizes and temperatures.. ranging from the room shaped like an igloo to 100 degrees..
the jim jil bang is coupled with awesomely awkward and totally relaxed public baths. women and men are separate and it's hot tubs with different temperatures then a few wet saunas.. the hot tubs are in the middle surrounded by little bath stations with mirrors and showers and everyone is naked...
the best part is that it costs 5000 won. 5 bucks. and you can stay as long as you want. you can sleep there, so instead of paying for a motel, you can pay 5 bucks and sleep in a warm room on a mat.
so i went on saturday with eric for the first time and i went again after work tonight and i feel so refreshed. i might go again tomorrow night..
i had a good foreigner confusion mis-understood "oh yeah i don't really know korean" kind of moment in the jim jil bang tonight.. after i took off my clothes and locked them into someone else's locker.. :) love being told i did something wrong now that i'm naked. love it.

4/19/07 11:49 pm

In memory

Pretty little Anni
was sitting on a meadow
when a bee stung her
on her sweet mouth.
Forgive me, said the bee,
I didn't mean to do it.
I thought your lips
were a rose.

your friend
Schneck Gisela


this is a poem i copied down form aushwitz concentration camp in krakow, poland, last summer.

4/4/07 10:21 pm - as promised...

hee hee hee

4/4/07 12:27 am - i love foreigner!!

on saturday, eric and i went out for dubu kimchi (tofu and kimchi) and dong dong ju (delicious rice wine) and we made a new friend. rather, he made us.

his name is jong won park.

e and i were chatting and i saw him trying to take a picture of his friends.. i offered to take his picture with him in the picture.. and he replied in English "no thank you"...

then before we knew it he was sitting at our table holding hands with eric (because same-sex friends hold hands here and it's not gay) and he was telling us "I love foreigner" and "we are the world" and "canada is very beautiful"..

i've posted the pictures from the night, as well as some pictures of my apartment, finally:


man, saturday was funny. video to follow shortly. how's everyone?
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