Category Archives: Korean

Family Gems Or Pearls Rather

December 12, 2013

Favorites / Korean / TMI / Uncategorized

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Not those kind of gems. These would be the pearls of wisdom sayings you’ll be passing down to your kiddos some day. We’re in Seattle visiting the fam this week, celebrating our dad’s retirement from the Navy! He’s been a Navy dentist for a bajillion years and he’s finally retiring! Yahoo! So this is why I’m thinking of all those little sayings. Ok, down to business.

Let’s start normalzies and work our way up to full-on strango.

“If you want a clean house, invite guests over for dinner or a party.”

“Fish smells after three days.” AKA don’t be a houseguest at someone’s home for more than 3 days.

“If you can handle hot things (temperature-think holding hot dinner plates) then you can handle your mother-in-law.” AKA patience under fire.

Ready to take it to another level?

Men are like woodsmen, the chop women down with, “I love you.” (My sister got this one)

Let’s go on to body parts.

“Thick legs mean you don’t get sick often.” (Mom only ever said this to me)

“A big forehead means high class.”(me)

“Thick earlobes equate to wealth.”(my sister)

Hey, feel free to borrow any of these to add to your family mottos, especially the thick leg one. Basically, learn to turn any unnatracitve thing into a blessing. 


Traditional Korean Wedding

August 26, 2013

Korean / Me and Chris

We had so much fun having an impromptu Korean Wedding last week! The traditional South Korean (friends of the U.S.) wedding is so colorful and playful. The costumes are the best part.

Underneath the special green and rainbow coat, the bride wears a traditional Korean chima-chogori. It consists of a short top and a VERY long skirt that starts under the arms. The front-top portion of this one is longer than most tops-it is a symbol of royalty…oo la la! This one belongs to my mother. The colorful overcoat, Chris’ costume, the screens, mats and fake foods are all rented! So much easier than say wedding dress shopping.


My mother’s friend, who I call “aunt” helps to tie the bridal overcoat.


This long sash symbolizes two families becoming one. I get to wear red dots on cheeks and forehead to represent femininity, luck and chastity!


First we bow to one another. I get help because of the elaborate costume and my fragility as a woman. ūüôā


Then we bow to my parents.

We hold the family-combining sash and my parents throw dates that we catch (thank goodness). These represent how many children we will have! WOW! Look how happy my parents are! We are taking it all in.


We serve rice wine to my parents and then to ourselves.



Then the funniest part of all: Uh-b00-ba. AKA piggy-back-ride. Yes, Chris, the groom picks me up on his back and jogs me around the room. Laugher explosion!

Tina and Chris Ahbuba.

The traditional wedding gifts are beautifully decorated envelopes filled with money.


Then some photos! Here is Tracey, who competed with our dad for the best photo of the day. My fave was the sake drinking photo…drumroll…Tracey took that one!


All of the fake foods on the table symbolize longevity in our relationship and fertility.


The ladies were so beautiful in the traditional dress! They were so helpful and cheery!


Happy bride!


Gangnam Style!


Thanks mom and dad!


What do you think?

Baby Pressure With “Help”

June 18, 2013

BABY / Korean / TMI / Uncategorized


Do your parents put pressure on you to have children? Mine do! We were at a wonderful Bloody Mary type of brunch this past weekend celebrating Father’s Day and they kept asking, “When will we be celebrating Father’s Day for Chris?” Then my mom gives Chris these pajamas, a gift she brought back from her most recent trip to Korea. In Korea, it is popular for guys to be cute too. Baby talk is in and so are male pajamas with teddy bears and bows. Really? Are these pajamas “baby making” clothes? Unless they’re sprayed with pheromones I’m not sure they’re the ticket to a “fertile” evening. Are those cropped pants? Yes. The only triple X here is the fact that in Korea, these are XXXL because no Korean man needs pants this large.


They ARE super soft though and I think Chris will even wear them. I want to stay over at my parents’ one night so he can wear these and my dad can wear the teddy bear ones my mom got for him.


Why the baby pressure is a good thing:

  • The pressure is coming from people who are approving of your union and capability of being good parents
  • You’re building a support system of people who encourage this endeavor
  • The encouragement may be helpful in stepping toward facing your fear of becoming parents
  • This is LIFE, you’re probably going to understand what these people are going through thirty years from now

Really nice ways to pressure:

  • Gifts-I’ve heard of some parents “helping” by getting couples into a bigger/more comfortable living space
  • Offering childcare help
  • Professional help-ways/ideas to make the future parents’ jobs easier like more flexible work hours or taking on jobs where they can work more from home
  • Anything that is going to give the future parents a sense of support and less stress will HELP!

How do you respond to “Baby Pressure?” Any good one-liners?

When does a Korean Mom say, “I love you?”

May 8, 2013

HAPPINESS / Korean / Uncategorized


I remember reading an article long ago that talked about when a Korean mom says, “I love you.” ¬†It was something like: ¬†when you are born, when you graduate from Harvard, when you become a doctor, when you marry a doctor and when you have a son. ¬†This embodies the high expectations and perfection associated with life as a Korean child. ¬†Luckily, my mom says, “I love you,” more than that but the expectations were always very apparent.

Piano lessons, “Korean school” (weekend classes learning how to read and write Korean plus Korean cultural arts), tutors etc. are the usual elements of a Korean kid’s life. ¬†You will constantly hear about the huge sacrifices of your parents giving up their lives to provide these things with the understanding that you will be great and take good care of them in return (i.e. buy them a Mercedes and a house they can tell their friends about).

I remember looking to my American dad in hopes of rescue, only to get, “That’s your mother, she’s Korean and you are part Korean.” ¬†The truth is all she wants is for us to be happy, financially stable, healthy and she worked very hard to do so. ¬†That doesn’t keep her from constantly mentioning things like how she just got back from a wedding for her Korean friend’s son/daughter who is an orthodontist and just married an OBGYN.

We were at the mall one day recently and were browsing separately.  I went to find her and she was chatting with a Korean grandma sitting in a Nordstrom seating area with her infant grandson in a stroller.  I joined, greeted the woman in Korean and my mom introduced us which includes telling me all the show-off stuff the Korean grandmother had told her about the daughter.  I look over to where the women pointed out the daughter.  She was perfectly trim after obviously just giving birth to this chubby 2 month old boy.  She was fashionable with a large, Louis Vuitton handbag and browsed the Nordstrom shoe selection that Tuesday afternoon, while her mother happily sat with the grandchild like some kind of accessory.  She and her husband were doctors (pharmacists).  Obviously.

I said, “oh she is beautiful,” in Korean and her mother replied in typical Korean fashion, “Oh, no, her sister is the good-looking one, she is Lady Gaga’s accountant.” ¬†Right…so Korean to be so matter-of-fact/depreciating-in-a-show-off kind of way. ¬†My mom told her I was an acupuncturist and married to…a banker with no kids. ¬†Yikes. ¬†I saw at that moment how much she wanted to be that lady! ¬†How cute. ¬†She couldn’t stop giggling all afternoon about how fat the baby was (that is a good thing to her).

So, I’m part Korean. ¬†I guess I’ll be doing that stuff too. ¬†Perfect.

P.S.  I totally adore my mom.

P.S.S. She is SOUTH Korean-I heard someone once say they didn’t want to buy a Kia automobile because they didn’t want to support the bad Koreans. ¬†Kia is a South Korean company. ¬†North Korea doesn’t make anything you’d want anyway.

What specific hopes do you have for your children?  Did you feel pressure from your family growing up?  Are these expectations true for all cultures?  Do you wish your parents put more on you or less?

Here’s a funny blog called “Stuff Korean Mom’s Like.”

The Gift to END all Gifts

March 29, 2013

Favorites / Korean / TMI / Uncategorized

One lovely Christmas morning, after all the gifts had been opened, my unpredictable mother shifted into a secretive, whisper-like tone and said, “Girls (to my little sister and I), wouldn’t it be wonderful to know you had a beautiful place to go one day?” ¬†On that note, my father rolled his eyes and said, “I’ll be upstairs,” as he beelined it out of the family room to find refuge in his second story office. ¬†Tracey and I looked at one another in that unsaid knowing/mom is so strange/what now kind of way. ¬†“You know,” she continued without skipping a beat from my dad’s departure, “a place that you knew you had for yourself.” ¬†Oh, we thought, reading each others’ minds, mom and dad have purchased a get-away-house in the country!!!! ¬†Yay! ¬†She stares at us with her secret still kept, salivating at our anticipation. ¬†The silence and expectation are too thick so I break it with, “So, mom, you bought a second home?” “No,” she says, “even better.” ¬†Wow, we’re thinking, what could possibly outshine a vacation home?”

“Girls, it is a place with mountains, a view of the water and the best location on a hillside.” ¬†Mom is bursting with the element of surprise. ¬†She has surely selected the ultimate Christmas gift with careful planning and it is now time to finally unveil the gift of a lifetime. ¬†She has never been good with keeping good-news secrets but this time she shines. ¬†When she can’t stand it another second, she triumphs,”Your father and I have bought you grave plots!!!!”

“Whhhhhatttttt,” Tracey and I say in total confusion and shock. ¬†Mom is now giddy with pleasure at the assured thrill we must be experiencing. ¬†Tracey and I then burst into a total giggle riot. ¬†She is confusing our nervous reaction ¬†and continues. ¬†“We have 8,” mom gloats. ¬†“We have 8 grave plots,” I ask-there are only four of us-mom, dad, Tracey and myself. ¬†Ahhhhh…the foreseeable husband and two-children-a-piece we will be having. ¬†I hear my father groan from upstairs. ¬†He’s never been a fan of death-talk where on the other hand, my mother has even gone as far to give my father permission to remarry (as long as the new wife is not Korean like herself) in the case she passes before him. ¬† The security in knowing where she will one day lie is absolutely heavenly to her and to give that to us is the greatest gift she can give.

“Thank you,” we say in a questioning tone. ¬†She finally senses our disconnect and is flabbergasted at our lack of enthusiasm and gratitude. ¬†Picking up on her disappointment, we immediately shift and begin to grant her the appreciation and excitement she yearns for. ¬†So, here it is….


Our Permanent Vacation Home

(featured photo with Elephant by Alice Popkorn via Flickr)



Decent Exposure: The Korean SPA

February 17, 2013

Beauty / Favorites / Korean / LIFESTYLE

DSC02643There is a mysterious place known as the Korean SPA. ¬†I’m going to de-mystify the legend so that you can prepare yourself to indulge! ¬†This is typically a day spa, run by Korean people, that offers saunas, massages, body scrubs and hot tubs. ¬†I’ve been to several in America and they range from a large one-room setting where all the stations are visible to one another to a multi-level building with separate floor for each delicious relaxation chamber. ¬†Prices vary but these are places of VALUE. ¬†Whatever you pay, you will get MUCH more for your money than at any other kind of spa. ¬†In Korea, these types of spas are frequented weekly so the cost has to be appropriate! This all sounds fantastic but it is not for the modestly inclined. ¬†It is different from an American spa in that you walk around COMPLETELY NUDE, save your little issued locker key bracelet.

The experience begins at the check in desk where you pay your entry fee and receive said-locker key bracelet. ¬†You can add on services like body scrubs and massages. ¬†Again, all are experienced completely nude. ¬†Once you have paid, you are led to the locker room. ¬†There are separate areas for men and women. ¬†Here, remove your shoes, walk to your assigned locker and place ALL of your belongings inside. ¬†WELCOME TO THE KOREAN SPA!!! ¬†Congratulations, you are naked! Try not to make too much eye contact or bump into other bodies around you. ¬†Look confident as if you’ve done this before. ¬†I must mention that there will be a wide variety of body hair choices, so whatever you choose, it’s perfect. ¬†Now to the showers.

There will be multiple shower locations with all the soaps and shampoo you’ll need. ¬†Here you will wash off prior to entering one of the hot tubs. ¬†It is necessary to soak for 15 minutes so your skin gets very soft so it is primed for the sloughing of the scrub. ¬†I HIGHLY recommend you indulge in the scrub and massage if you can! ¬†A person of the same sex will call your locker key number when it is your turn for your treatment. ¬†The person will be dressed in a bathing suit.

For the scrub, you will be taken to a massage table that is covered in plastic. ¬†You will lie on the table while the professional scrubs your ENTIRE body with an exfoliating rag. ¬†The process will take about 30-45 minutes. ¬†You will be instructed when to lift your arms, spread your legs, flip over etc. ¬†Your southern private parts will not be scrubbed but expect an entire chest and inner leg exfoliation! ¬†You will see lots of dead skin in the form of little grey pills all over the place. ¬†You will have water poured over you occasionally to rinse this off. ¬†It is amazing how much comes off! ¬†Your hair and face will also be washed for you. ¬†Some places will even do a mini facial with cucumbers over your eyelids. ¬†My favorite extra is when they pour milk and honey all over you at the end. ¬†Often you will be covered with a moisturizing oil. ¬†Ta-da! ¬†You’ll be smoother than a baby’s bottom.

Now if you opted for the massage, prepare yourself for very deep tissue/acupressure type of work. ¬†Now it is a good time to take another quick shower and hit the saunas. ¬†There may be one sauna or there may be theme saunas with jade, salt, aromatherapy or other treats infused into the room. ¬†Now some of the bigger spas may have a co-ed restaurant area where can eat while clothed in one of the spa’s robes. ¬†Remember, you will be clothed in any co-ed areas!

I am proud of you! ¬†This takes some guts and the reward for the brave can’t be compared to any other type of treatment. ¬†Tell me how it went!