Christmas Eve is the biggest date night in Korea. Guys better have a plan for a romantic evening or their in trouble. I was in a little trouble or so I thought, because we didn’t have anything super special. We went out and had some sushi and went back home.
Christmas Day was the big one for us, no traditional gift giving. Hyun Mi bought me a nice wool jacket last month for my gift, and her gift is coming in the mail from Amazon. I got some neat water-color pencils and a pad of paper. Perfect for an artist like her as we travel around different places.
Later in the day we planned to gather at her families house and enjoy a nice dinner together. I may have mentioned it before, but their family rarely eats together. Dinner together has become a big desire for me, and I think I’ve grown up a lot with regard to that. I used to play video games and sometimes skip the family dinner, but now I can’t really think of something else I would rather do. I bought a Costco chicken and friend up some veggies, Hyun Mi made a sea snail salad, and Dad brought a big hunk of high quality tuna (he kept telling me it was because I was here and it was a gift from him) It was really kind of him. I printed out photos of our Jeju travel and wrote them a short card in Korean. They seemed pretty happy.
I was talking with one of my Korean friends and we both agree Korean society is entirely too materialistic. I think for most families, quality time together is sort of skipped, taking a back seat to school, work, and social commitments. It’s a little sad because my friend described a Korea of 20-30 years ago where people were poor, and had to work together and get along out of necessity. As the country has developed people have become more isolated and without a need for family or community the worship of money and material has become the norm. I think Western countries suffer from this too, but in Korea it has happened in less than 30 years.
My friend made mention of recent news stories of people complaining about their upstairs neighbors being too noisy, so they would tape speakers to the ceiling and leave it on max volume. It’s this kind of attitude when people stop viewing each other as people and more as obstacles or targets of vengeance,that I find the most disturbing. Our building has a security officer who basically cleans up the trash around the place, organizes the recycling trash, and accepts packages. Last night I heard some women screaming at him, I talked to him some with Hyun Mi as translator and he said people has stolen his elevator keys from the elevator (had it on CCTV), and that he was getting fired because of a government mandated pay increase stating in 2016. Previously they could be paid 90% of minimum wage (strange, I know) but starting this year they need a full minimum wage of roughly $5 an hour to be treated like crap by tenants. Most of these security officers are old men in their golden years that are working out of necessity.
Anyway I figured like they say, be the change you want to see in the world. I made a little gift basket of fruit and some other things and gave it to him on Christmas. He was thoroughly confused at first, but then he understood and was really happy. He’s a really nice guy and was usually happy and cheerful, the world needs more people like that.