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  • Writer's pictureChristensen

Seollal (설날)

Updated: Mar 21, 2018

새해복많이 받으세요! ^^ Saehae bok mani badusaeyo! This is the greeting that is said during the season of the lunar new year, or Seollal, here in South Korea. Yesterday morning, as I was going to my in-law's house, I brightly stumbled over the greeting as I bowed to our apartment building's "kyonbishil ajoshi" (similar to a security guard but not as scary). He smiled and gave the greeting back to me. I like the greeting. It translates to: "I wish you blessings in the coming year."

Though, I like it even more this year. My wife is pregnant, and in the Korean culture, you give the unborn child a nickname. A placeholder name, if you will. My wife chose 축복이 as the Korean name, which means "God's blessing", and I chose Little One. But Chukboki is the one that we use the most. When she asks me to put my hand on her belly to feel our baby moving, we say "Chukbokiya!" instead of Little One. So, I like the Seollal greeting. It reminds me of the child I haven't seen yet.

At my in-laws, I mostly played with my nieces. Why, you might ask? Well, when your Korean is still improving, it is sometimes easier to talk to people who are also learning Korean.

And I just like hanging with my nieces and nephew. I like trying to guess at what they are saying to me in Korean. Like when one of my nieces came in the bedroom that I was taking a nap in and almost started yelling at me between sobs, and I just sat up on the edge of the bed confused about what exactly she was saying. "Yes, I hear you." I was guessing on what I heard., but I thought she needed me to say something comforting. Later, my wife told me that she was actually angry at me for giving the other niece some paper and not giving her an equal amount...something like that. In the end, it turned out to be a misunderstanding. Though, later, that same niece confided in me that she didn't want to go to the US because she wanted to go to China, where one of her friends, a guy, had moved to. In fact, she told me that I should name my baby after him. So, she might be confused later when it turns out that we didn't. She's just seven years old, so hopefully, she will forgive me.

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