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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The funeral...

One of the teachers at my schools mother in law died this past weekend, so all of the teachers went to the funeral after school yesterday. I was told to wear black, so I did... and so did everyone else.

When we arrived at the funeral home, we (the teachers, principal, vice principal, secretaries, assistants, etc) all piled into a little tiny room, filled with flowers and a single picture of the woman who had died. The family members all stood in black robes with yellow arm bands, on the side of the room. My Principal and Vice Principal walked up to the front of the room, where the 8 x 11 picture of the womasn was standing, picked up a stick of inscense, lit it, and placed it in a bucket of sand. They then, with all of the teachers, bowed to the picture 3 times. And not just a little bow... They were on their knees with their heads on the ground. I began to kneel down, because I thought it would be rude if I didn't, and my friend April (also a teacher) tapped my shoulder and said, "We don't do this part." She was implying that Christians do not participate in the bowing. So, we stood in the back while everyone bowed. At the end of the 3 bows, we all walked up to the front of the room, where there was a wooden box with a small slit in the top. Just like at weddings in Korea, you have to bring money to offer to the family. So, dropped my 30,000 won into the wooden box and tried to convince myself that it would be spent on something worth while.

After we "paid," we all filed into the dining commons. The family served us soup, rice cakes, vegetables, and Sprite. We all sat and talked for about 10 minutes, and then off we went. It was a strange experience to say the least, but like all of my strange experiences in Korea, I'm glad I was given the opportunity to experience it.

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