Hello Readers! It's the lovely or for some of us not so lovely week of Valentine's Day! V-Day is a big social event and commercial event in the states. Everyone who's got a date runs out to buy cards, flowers, and candy. Some of us make reservations at bistros, or cook romantic dinners for two at home. For those of us who don't have dates we go to "I Hate Valentine's Day" parties, or just spent a quiet night at home. The point is in the states this shit is a big fucking deal! So what is it like in Korea?
In Korea V-Day is for only the men. Woman give their dads, boyfriends, brothers, and male friends gifts. The most popular is handmade chocolates. Handmade shows a high level of care, value, and respect for that person. Handmade also shows a very high quality gift. One month later on March 14th the men in turn gift the woman gifts. Like many Asian countries Korea is obsessed with branding couples. There's a lot of boyfriend and girl shirts that when they stand together it's two cartoons kissing, or both holding an end of a red stringed can phone. Why the red string? Well it's not just red for love and V-Day.
The string between the can phones is from the a Korean belief in the red string of fate. A classic example is one of my very favorite Korean stories to tell..
There's a sweet Korean girl sitting on a bench in Seoul, and she's crying softly to herself. A very handsome university grad walks up to her. He sits with her and asks what's wrong. She looks up at the kind stranger and tells him she has just ran from her home. She tells him how when she got home from school that day her parents said they have arranged for her to marry and that she will be engaged tomorrow. She respects her parents decision for her, but says she's never even had a real boyfriend and she wants her first kiss to be from one of her choosing. The handsome stranger wipes her eyes and says that he will be her boyfriend for tonight, and tomorrow she can start her new path knowing she chose him first.
They spend the day together having fun, laughing, and their hearts glowing brighter. When the night ends they share their first kiss.. He tells her he is so happy to have met her, his wife to be. She steps back in shock. He knew who she was all day, that fate brought them together when she needed the kindness of a stranger for her to choose. And she had chosen him, her husband to be. That is what the red string of fate is, everything comes full circle.. Just like Ben Kweller's really fanatic song! (That's not Korean btw; I just really dig that song.)
Sometimes I feel that red string of fate, but being I'm an atheist and a social scientist I know it's not fact. Or at least I can say I personally believe what I'm feeling is not fact. But maybe I'm wrong? This semester on Thursdays I have a night class, hurray! Since we have a class on V-Day my professor decided to make it and exam day, and a high scored activity fallowing the test so we can't rush it and leave early. A few of the guys I've been seeing have asked me out for V-Day, but none of those dates worked out because no one wants their date to start at 10pm. I do not blame them at all.
Ok now let's get really personal with this Valentine's Day stuff. The last guy I shared to you all about was one of my best bros. We've both got the feels, I don't want a relationship, and la la la la la la. He doesn't care that I have a night class and asked me out for Valentine's Day, and I said yes. I also shared before that he's Caucasian and very into Asian culture, but not in a creepy scary way. I don't think we're doing the White Day thing, but I do think some of my bros will wish me a happy White Day when it rolls around in a month.
This is the first Valentine's Day that I've been single in years!! I love how little pressure I feel.