I have learned many things about my language, culture, and traditions that I will pass on to the younger generation, and I hope that you will also learn about my family past and my backgrounds. My father’s family’s last name is Song. Our original hometown is Yeosan in South Korea. My great, great grandfather ran an aquaculture industry in Yongin. He was a member of the city council. My grandfather’s family moved to Suwon in 1945. He has four brothers and four sisters. When the Korean conflict started, the eldest brother joined the army, and he passed away in the battlefield.
My grandfather graduated from the college of Agriculture, and ran a fertilizer industry. Later on, he got married to my grandmother and had three children, two boys and one girl. One of the boys was my dad who was the oldest. My dad’s name is Suyoung, he was born and grew up in Suwon, but he graduated from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. His major is economics, but during his stay at university my dad met my mom. And they got married. Presently, my grandfather has moved to the countryside and manages an organic farm and also makes different types of tea.
My mother’s family’s last name is Seo. Her family’s name is from Dalsung, South Korea. My mother’s great grandfather moved to Seoul, Korea, and her family has lived there since then. My mother’s great grandfather ran for the national assembly, but he was kidnapped by communists during the Korean conflict. Also, my mother’s family was very good at sports and art. My great, great grandfather, Sangchun Seo, was a pioneer in weight lifting, he majored physical education at the Tokyo University. After graduating, he taught physical education at Hwuimoon High School.
He was the first president of the weightlifting union, and he established the gymnastic association, the Korean wrestling association, and the tennis association. He created a newspaper called the Hyundai Daily, and he wrote the books Weightlifting and How to Improve Your Strength. My great grandfather was the first person who did gymnastics in Korea and his brother was a boxing athlete. He took part in the Olympic games three times, although he couldn’t reach his goal of 1st place, he won 5th place at the Olympics. Later on, my grandfather founded a hotel, The Ambassador, with his cousin in Seoul.
He retired as a vice president at the hotel, and he passed away in 1998. My grandfather on my mom’s side was born in Seoul. He studied electricity at Yonsei University, He worked as a engineer and met my grandmother, later on. They had three children two girls and one boy. The oldest girl was my mom. My mom, Seiyoung, was born in Seoul, South Korea. When my mom was very little my great aunt gave my mom’s family a opportunity to move to California, but her family didn’t move because they were so attached to Korea. Later, she majored in Business Administration at a Catholic University.
Then she met my father, got married, and had three children. When I was born, my father was an analyst at the stock company in Korea. But, he wanted to study more, so our family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He had to study hard and work for his family, because he was still a graduate student. I have lots of memories from Michigan, every winter it snowed, snowed, and snowed some more. I also had two ducks and a squirrel who visited my house everyday asking for cheerios. Sometimes my family talks about the times when we were living there. Later, my little brother, Eddie was born.
But, after my dad graduated school, he was able to get a job in Los Angeles, and so we had to move to California. My mother, my little brother, and I traveled to Los Angeles by plane, but my father drove for three days getting to Los Angeles, he even crossed the Rocky Mountain coming here. So from that day on, Los Angeles became my home. By the way, later my little sister was also born. About Korea Because my nationality is Korean, Korea is a very important part of my life. Unlike America, Korea has many different cultures, traditions, holidays, and stories that many people don’t know about.
And so by using this chance, I would like to share information on Korea to you. Throughout the essay I hope that you will be able to learn about my nationality. South Korea is a country in eastern Asia. South Korea’s flag pictures a red and blue Yin-Yang symbol, red (yang) on top, blue (yin) on the bottom, in the center of a white field. There are four groups of long and short black bars called kwae that surrounds the circle. South Korea’s flag was adopted on January 25, 1950. This flag is called the taegukki which means great extreme. The white background represents peace and purity, but the Yin-Yang symbol represents opposites.
This means that allow things in the universe have two opposite aspects that cannot exist without each other. The kwaes also have meanings, the one on the upper right corner means heaven, the one on the lower right means fire, the one on the upper left means water, and the kwae on the lower left means earth. There is also a famous myth in Korea, it explains how Korea became a country. One upon a time, there was a god, Hwang In. He was very interested in the world of the mortals below, and so he gave his son three seals of king and let him down to Earth.
When Hwang In’s son came down from heaven, he became king and taught his people many lessons. But at this time, a bear and a tiger lived together in a cave wishing to be human someday. They prayed to Hwang In and prayed to be a human, so Hwang In gave them a bundle of mugworts and twenty cloves of garlic. He told them to eat garlic and mugworts without seeing sunlight for one hundred days. The bear and the tiger immediately started with determination, but after twenty one days the tiger gave up. As Hwang In said the bear turned into a beautiful woman in a hundred days.
Later, Hwang In’s son married the bear, and had a baby boy named Dan Gun. He succeeded Hwang Woong as king, and selected Pyongyang as his capital and named the countries. He reigned the country for a thousand, five hundred years and Dan Gun was called the founding father of Korea every since. In Korea, the most common religions are Catholicism (I’m catholic! ), Christianity, Buddhism. For Catholics and Christian, people normally attend church every Sunday. While Buddhist go visit the temples in the mountains to pray to Buddha.
But, aside from this there are also silly superstitions that elders tell children as a way to make them listen. For example, when my little sister was young she was a really big crybaby so my mom would say that a tiger would come at night to eat little children who cried at night. There are also many more, if someone blew a flute or a recorder at night and snake would slither into the house, if one day someone’s parents fought then it would be because someone opened a umbrella in the house, if someone breaks glass in the morning bad luck will be coming in the future.
There are many silly superstitions but these superstitions usually help stop children from doing inappropriate or childish behaviors. In Korea, there are many holidays that are different from America. One holiday is called Children’s Day on May 5th. On that day the parents cook delicious food for the kids, go on a picnic, or have a party with the family. There are lots of presents from the parents. In my opinion, it’s a bummer that we don’t have this holiday in America Three days after Children’s Day there is a holiday called Parent’s Day, in Korea they don’t do Mother’s Day and Father’s Day separately.
On Parent’s day the children buys or makes carnations and pin it on their parent’s shirt. The carnations represent gratitude to their parents for the whole year. Also, Korean thanksgiving is on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It is known as Chuseok and we wear colorful silk traditional clothes known as hanbok, and eat rice cakes, traditional food, and seasonal fruits. At this time, families get together and feast. Also, the families set up a table filled with food for the ancestors that passed away long time ago as a sign of respect.
Later, they eat the food. Aside from all these holidays, in Korea the traditional wedding ceremonies they hold are very different compared to the weddings they have in America. In Korea, the betrothal gift would be delivered by the groom’s closest friends. The gift is called a hahm and they group would call out hahm for sale in front of the girl’s house and would be delivered to her. Later on, they would have a engagement party with entertainment and a formal introduction of the family members. Before the wedding, the groom gives a goose to the bride’s mother.
Long time ago, they used a real goose, but nowadays they use a pair of beautiful wooden carved geese. They give geese because they mate for life, so it symbolizes that the groom will take care of the bride for his life. Later, they drink wine to seal their vows. Then, during the reception the parents throw dates and chestnuts symbolizing children into the bride’s dress who tries to catch them. Usually the number of dates she catches means the number of children she will have, then the parents give a white envelope holding money to the bride. Later, they have a banquet with noodles.
Noodles mean a wish for a long happy life, and this ends the wedding. These days, the Koreans don’t usually do traditional weddings, they usually do an Americanized wedding with the white wedding dress, but some people still carry on the tradition and do it. There are specific traditional roles in a Korean family. The mother usually tells the daughter what women have to do in a traditional Korean home and teaches children about the importance of education. Koreans main logic is that they need to study to succeed. Therefore, they don’t hesitate to spend time and support their children’s education.
In the house, there are manners that all Koreans follow. Whenever they see a elder or someone who is older, we a expected to bow and be respectful, if this rule is not followed it is usually a shame to our family. Also, at the table, we have to wait until the eldest starts to eat, and we also have to wait until the eldest finishes the meal before the children leave the table. We can’t make noises and move around in the middle of eating. This may seem strict but it is usually a sign of respect and how well the child is disciplined in the family.