Wakey wakey!

17 Mar

I had hoped that I might get invited to a wedding whilst in Korea, but never did I think I’d be asked to a wake…

Thankfully it was no one I knew directly, but the father of my favourite Korean teacher, Lynn. I was told he had been ill and bed-ridden for some 20 years so his passing came as a blessing to the family. And as seems to be the way in Korea, everyone and their granny is invited!

I got a phone call late on the Friday night from my vice director at the school who told me the news and asked myself and the other foreign teacher if we would accompany them to the funeral tomorrow (Saturday) – what do you say to that? Another phone call on saturday morning informed us that it’s custom to give MONEY at a funeral – 30,000 won as standard – which is near enough 20 quid! So before we knew it, we were dressed in black and on our way to the hospital to pay our respects, not quite knowing what to expect, but hoping the buffet would be worth the money.

My kids: Joey, Lucy and Jemma in their Hanboks for the Lunar New Year

I didn’t know this until afterwards, but the family are Buddhists, which is quite uncommon in Korea. But that meant the whole affair wasn’t as morbid as it might have been if they had been Christian. Following the directors’ lead, we were lead into a room which had a shrine to the deceased, as the family stood at the side dressed in black hanboks (traditional Korean dress – see the photo above for an idea). We bowed twice to a photo of the departed and once to the family. After that we were ushered to a table, told to sit on the ground, ate squid and seaweed, drank beer and had a good ol’ natter. Overall a more pleasant afternoon out than I had anticipated.


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