Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What, This Old Thing?

Mom is a crafty lady.

Today she told us to meet her at Namdaemun, the ginormous market. Great! No need to discuss any further. It's obvious we're going shopping, right?

We got to the subway exit and found Eemo there. Whee! Eemo was taking us to Mom who was in the market...buying...hanbok?! Uh oh.

Hanbok are the traditional Korean outfits, brightly coloured, silken, flowing robes. Mom had suggested buying hanbok for me and for Isaac earlier in the trip but I had gently declined.

"Mom - when will we ever wear it? It's a nice idea, but really - it's ok." I thought we were agreed. That's what it seemed like, anyway. Not the case.

Eemo led us through teeming streets filled with carts piled high with winter coats, people yelling their prices, ("Man won! Man won ja li!") storefronts blaring K-pop. I was protesting the whole way, telling Eemo I'd already TOLD Mom that we don't need hanbok. Eemo nodded and made sympathetic faces, which I love about her, and said, "But I think your Mom just really wants to buy these for you because it's tradition and you just got married."

We went up a stairwell where a young market worker was smoking a cigarette, turned a corner and popped into a 3rd floor sea of fabrics where I saw Mom's face lean out from inside a booth.

I smiled and waved, thinking, "What on earth is she doing?" Mom indicated to the lady in the stall that we were approaching. Within 5 seconds of saying, "Hey Mom," I was being unburdened of my winter coat and having a chartreuse floor-length outfit put onto me, princess-style, like a paper doll with arms outstretched. This little hanbok-selling grandma was all over me and she was fast.

As she was tying me in tightly, over my bulky sweater, I looked over at Mom. "Uh Mom? Remember I said that I don't think Isaac and I need hanbok?"

On goes the little bolero jacket with wide sleeves. And it is snapped shut. It is electric lime green. I ask if there's anything else, knowing that this means I am now complicit (well, I couldn't let that lime green just happen to me, you know?). Less than one minute in the store and here I was sweating in my boots, sweater and a gigantic, floor-length gown.

The clothes are deemed a perfect fit, whipped off me and the little halmuni with the satoori accent goes spinning over in Isaac's direction. All the halmuni's in the area are saying things like, "He is handsome," "He is tall," "That is a grrreat colour on him," "His Korean is so good!" (This last one is in response to his saying, "Thank you," or "Kamsa hamnida" - Koreans are very easily impressed).

By this time, seeing Isaac in a shimmering pink confection from head-to-toe, I was beginning to enjoy myself. Mom told me later she had chosen this vendor because she said she had extra large sizes for foreigners. Standing there, swimming in fabric, Isaac asked for a little hat. I told him those black hats are just for babies and kings. "I am a King!" Yes, Isaac, you are a King.

It took all of 10 minutes to become the proud new owners of two beautiful hanbok. Feel free to book us for New Year's bowing ceremonies and children's parties.


Anonymous Nancy W. said...

what no pictures!?

sae-bae at your place (when you get back)!!

1:20 PM  
Blogger Hannah Says Hi said...

Your wish is my command...

6:23 AM  
Blogger Hannah Says Hi said...

Not sure why I'm speaking like a genie but Isaac and I do think we're losing our ability to speak English...

6:24 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

This brings back memories! What is it with the color pink? Jim's hanbok was pink as well... oh, love it! Did you do a paebeck?

1:44 PM  

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