If you were expecting an entry on fortune telling and soul mates, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. Stay a little bit longer and you just might find yourself smiling as you read. When that happens, as I’m sure it will, then sharing this will be worth it.
I have learned–quickly and humbly–that Koreans just might give Filipinos a run for our money if there will ever be a competition for the title, “Most Romantic Asians.” The second and last (but not least) installment to my Chuseok blog theme explains why…
(Disclaimer: I share these stories not to poke fun at Koreans, but to recall these moments with fondness and understanding. Naks!)
Chuseok Entry No. 2 : How to Make a Promise
I was scheduled to have a one-to-one video conference with Big Brother K (my Korean boss–and no, I didn’t want it to sound like a mob). It went on for almost an hour, and before it ended, my boss suddenly asked, “Do you have a promise?”
I froze. I racked my brain for as long as 2 seconds would allow me. From what we had talked about, I could not, for the life of me, think of a single instance in which I had to make a promise. Oh my God, had my mind been drifting off during the meeting, causing me to miss out on something that I should agree to and promise to accomplish?
As most cultures with Confucian roots, ethics, loyalty, respect, and propriety are the strongest of Korean values. Therefore, I didn’t want my boss to think that I had very little of those. After all, former bosses have written “outstanding work ethics” in my performance reviews. What promise should I make?
2 seconds up!
Sensing my confusion (and concern, perhaps), Big Brother K added, “Do you need to leave?”
Aaaah… “Oh, Mr. K, you mean an appointment?” I pulled the words out of my mouth while asking Jesus to grant me His grace, so as not to offend my boss.
“Yes, yes, an appointment, sorry,” my boss said with a nod and a smile (Thank you, Papa Jeesuuus…), as if he was also trying to keep himself from smacking his forehead with his hand.
“Actually, Mr. K, you are right. I have a prior commitment,” I said, deliberately emphasizing the word to assure him that he has no need to be embarrassed. After all, in English, an appointment is also synonymous to a commitment, which is, in turn, synonymous to? Correct! A promise.
And so, we exchanged our thank-you-for-your-times and have-a-nice-days before we bade our goodbyes. End of call. And story.
Chuseok Entry No. 3: “I know! It’s destiny!”
HL, one of my students, is a witty 10-year-old girl (I’m not sure whether it’s her Korean age or “international age,” though.) She is also my best student in the Juniors category.
One time, I was building background knowledge for a new word, which happened to be “mystery.” I showed her a cartoon-y picture of Sherlock Holmes holding up a magnifying glass.
“Do you know who this man is or what he’s doing?” I asked.
“Yes, he is an investigator. He is investigating something,” she replied. (Wow. “Investigate”! I was impressed. I told you, she’s smart.)
“That’s a very good answer! He is an investigator, or a detective. He is searching for clues… Can you tell me what a clue is?”
“Hmmm, I think I know “clue,” but I’m not sure.”
“Okay, I’ll show you more clues, I mean, pictures. This one here is an example of a clue.”
(Uploading document… JPEG file… filename: fingerprint)
Image pops up on the screen.
“Aha! I know! It’s destiny!”
Story ends here. I explained that it was a fingerprint, which tells you that someone has touched something. It was a clue to finding out who touched it. And yes, a fingerprint is part of a palm print, and if you believe in palm reading… the lines on your palm tells your destiny.
So, why do I think that Koreans are romantic? It’s in their choice of words. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but then, that’s just me.