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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Family and kin) Weddings, and filial daughter-in-law

Hankyoreh has a couple of pieces of modern and traditional Korea, so to speak.

(1) The oldest daughter of the head of the Presidential secretariat (청와대 비서실장) Mun Hui-sang got married in Lotte Hotel in February 1st. No invitations had been sent, "to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding", and all congratulation money (ch'ugûigûm 축의금) and flower wreaths (hwahwan 화환) were refused. (It was most likely Mun who did the refusing and not the couple, since the literal expression is that it was Mun who had his daughter's wedding, 문희상 청와대 비서실장이 1일 낮 시내소공동 롯데호텔에서 큰 딸 수현씨(32)의 조촐한 결혼식을 가졌다. Mun even discouraged the government dignitaries to participate, saying "it's ok if you don't come" to those who had heard that there will be a wedding. Only president Roh's and former president Kim Dae-jung's wreaths were accepted, others were refused (사절했다, 돌려보냈다). So only few dignitaries were present, and the wedding was held mainly in the presence of families and friends. The bride is 32 and the groom 38 (!), a noch'onggak indeed, but he is a SNU politics dept graduate, he has passed the law exam (sapôp kosi) and has finished his law training.

Several years ago, during Kim Dae-jung's presidency, there was the wedding of the offspring of Kwon No-gap (or Kwon Roh-gap, I'm not sure), who is a long-time KDJ confidant and who was in an important party position at the time (after serving some time for the Hanbo scandal). He also didn't send any wedding invitations, but according to different police estimations, 3000 to 5000 people turned up to give their congratulations. The closer to the president the person is, the closer events like this will be watched, and more careful those responsible need to be. The fact that extra carefulness needs to be excerted and weddings intentionally downplayed tells of the continuous importance of the institution.

(2) People in a village in Southern Kyôngsang (Gyeongsang) have given a "Filial Daughter-in-law price" to a woman, who has not lost her smile and friendliness despite taking care of an ailing mother-in-law and working full-time in the township office (myônsamuso). (Hyobu 孝婦 = filial, dutiful daughter-in-law.)
송씨는 특히 시어머니가 중풍으로 병상에 눕자 식사수발과 대소변을 받는 병수발을 마다않고 힘겨운 집안을 척척하면서도 늘 밝고 성실하게 면사무소 공무원으로일해 마을주민들로부터 칭찬이 자자하다.
"People around help me a lot, so this is not hard at all", said Mrs Song in the village hall in the awarding ceremony. "I'm sorry and ashamed to receive such a big price, because I'm only doing what a civil cervant and a daughter-in-law is supposed to do."
Giving awards like this is what makes the blood boil in certain circles, who would call for a more equal burden of homework between spouses and for less practice of filiality through the daughter-in-law. And it shouldn't be in Hankyoreh's editorial policy to advocate filial daughters-in-law who don't spare toil in taking care of their mothers-in-law, as it sounds so patriarchal and conservative. But perhaps it's fitting for the "productive welfare" policy (or what was it called) of the present government. (The article was from Yonhap.)

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