Sunday, October 26, 2008

#52 Punishment

Punishment is the Korean Mom's art form. This is where they let their creative juices flow and their imaginations take flight. They are the Mozart of punishers everywhere; prodigious, misunderstood, and just a little crazed. A simple swat on the ass is not ingenious enough for the Korean Mom. Too boring. She will dream up more unique ways to make you pay for things you've done...things you will do, things your brother/sister did, things you ate, things you said, things you did not do, and things you just happened to see while strolling by on your way to doing something entirely wholesome and normal. Often you will even be punished for things entirely out of your control, such as being left handed, being short, or being lactose intolerant. You get the picture. Your life is just one big reason for punishment and your Korean Mom will find new and exciting ways to help you understand this fact. Fun.

Face it, many of us have been victims to some of the classic forms of Korean Mom punishment. Whether you were forced to kneel and carry a large bucket of water above your head for hours at a time, told to go and collect your own whip/switch from the backyard, or simply stand with your hands in the air, just know that the worst is not yet over my friend. You can never outgrow Korean Mom punishments. As long as she is able bodied enough to wield a tree branch, a rice paddle, or raise her voice, she will punish you.

The key thing to understand about Korean Mom punishments is that they will not make sense. Ever. It will not teach you that you have done something awful, or that you have made bad life decisions, and it will definitely not build character. It will simply let you know where your pain threshold lies, and whether or not you should seriously consider working out. Not only does a Korean Mom administer a physically challenging punishment to drive home what she considers the lesson of the day, she will also yell at you throughout the entire process. While you are struggling to keep that giant jug of water aloft military press style, she will wail, yell, and inform you that she wants to die (see # 3). Don't worry, all is not in vain. This will eventually teach you how to multitask; to listen, learn, and endure physical pain. Were you able to get your weekly report done, listen in on your conference call, all the while doing lunges across your office floor? It is all thanks to your Korean Mom.

Warning: do not ever, e.v.e.r., talk back, or even utter a single word while your Korean Mom is punishing you. To do so is to give yourself the death sentence. Even if you say "I love you" in your most loving and contrite tone, in the heat of the moment, while you are being punished within an inch of your life, all your Korean Mom will hear is "Hit me harder!", and she will.



For Renee: Keep fighting and laughing my dear. :)

65 comments:

hreeves said...

At least it's clear.
For white people you are just made to feel guilty all the time and you never really know why.
I love Koreans. They always get to the point.

joK said...

My mom used to hit me with white plastic hangers, and if i cried she would keep yelling "WHY YOU CRYING??" while she was beating me! HAHA, and in my head I would think "CAUSE YOU'RE HITTING ME!!" but I would never ever say anything out loud! Oh hell no, thats how you get yourself into round two of the beatings!

dreams2ashes said...

yaa they always ask why you're crying ahahhaa
LOL a the multitasking ahahahhahaa

Thea's SoapBox said...

yes- kneeling on raw rice kernels for hours while holding big cans of tomatoes with my arms extended out.
they are truly creative.

good stuff.

Renee said...

Keep laughing, well that is something I'm doing right now.

My husband is from Trinidad and he is West Indian and so many of the things you write make me laugh because they sound like punishments he has had. Not that he was telling them to be funny.

Thanks for the talent to have the ability to make us all laugh.

Renee Khan

ngf said...

oh dude, my mom and dad would beat me and days later ask where i got the bruises...like during the beating, you keep your mouth shut...

seriously made me suicidal when i was in grade school...i almost went to my grade school teacher for help...but i was afraid i'd just get an even bigger beating...

imagine my parents talking to my teacher: "he needs to be beaten, he doesn't listen"...and then at home after the meeting: "what the hell's wrong with you?"...

makingpapercranes said...

yes, you're right, i think my pain threshold is unusually high...from the tortuous daily hair-brushing to being chased around the house with a vacuum hose to standing facing a wall with arms up in the air for hours...

thank you for bringing back such interesting memories...

<3

Anonymous said...

hows this for creative punishment--my mom left piles of dead bugs in the corners of my room and spread all over my dresser to prove that having a messy a room leads to having bugs.

i tried to make her admit that she was the one who put the bugs in my room but she never fessed up. she insisted that the handfuls of dead bugs just all happened to die together in their little clumps like mass bug suicide and then made me vacuum them up.

Since then Ive never left my clothes scattered all over the floor again.

Anonymous said...

My KM used to make me pick out a stick for her to beat me with whenever we went to the park, just to have at home in case I did anything wrong later. Very pro-active on her part, traumatizing on my part.

Amber said...

Picking your own switch from the backyard spans cultures--I grew up in the southeast, and my grandmother did the same thing. I always picked out really large branches that I knew she wouldn't use on me, so then she just used her bare hand on me instead. Slap! Slap! Slap! Geez, I still remember that...therapy ahoy.

I guess I came out lucky, though, because my mom told me Grandma used to pop her on the mouth if she talked back. Yikes.

hmmm said...

You never fail to make me laugh. My mom used to make us bring meh, so I hid them all under the bed. We did the hands in the air, kneeling on the floor, etc. And she would also ask why we cried. She added "you can't cry, because you did something wrong." HUH????

queenbae said...

ari says more

suzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela said...

I love your blog!!

My KM is actually pretty nuetral..It's my korean father that gets me wondering if he has bipolar dissorder or something...
You should also write what korean father's like that would really get the ball rolling lol.

whatitis said...

my mom would usually get me with the handle of a fly swatter, stung like a mofo. when i was in big trouble she'd thump me with the plastic bagaji from the bathtub. i guess the most creative thing she beat me with was a dinner plate. who beats their kid with a dinner plate???

i love my mom :D

Anonymous said...

I was never physically punished with a smack on the bottom by my parents, but I suspect that it had a lot to do with my grandparents. My grandparents used to live with us so whenever I felt my parents get mad at me, I'd run to my grandparents. So instead, my parents got creative. Copying words out of the dictionary, eating food I hated (yuck, bitter melon!), and washing the floor everyday (think on my hands and knees with the bucket and a cloth).

Kevin said...

I posted a "top 10 korean stereotypes" on my xanga a while back.. it was ok, but your site is AWESOME!

www.xanga.com/kebiseo

Annie said...

Ah, so awesome! My mom's weapon of choice was the fly-swatter and it's handle - she once broke it on my older sister's butt while she was alternating between whacking the two of us! Though, admittedly the scariest thing was when she threw a spatula at the same sister, who dodged it - the spatula was then stuck into the wall, wedged in right where my sister's head had been. It was the most amazing and terrifying thing I've ever seen my mother do, haha.

Ah, and my sisters and I have the unfortunate habit of verbal diarrhea - my mom was once screaming at my sister, asking her how old she was, and my sister blurts out (in the heat of the moment, having been trained by our mother to answer any and all questions honestly) - "I AM SIXTEEN!"

I was a little different and had an unfortunate sarcastic streak - she was asking me similarly, "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!" and I went, "I'm Annie...?" I then proceeded to run around the house, my mother in hot pursuit with the fly-swatter. XD

see k: through the looking glass said...

LOL. My mom would pull out the thin wooden slats in the bottom of the blinds (you know, the cheap white curtains) or use this dried bamboo stick we had lying around. We always knew a beating would be coming because she'd pull down the curtains in our living room 1) so passerbys couldn't see and 2) to get the damn sticks.

Anonymous said...

i got metal flyswatter handles and whatever was within reach with my mom. with my dad...he's a taekwondo sabum so we'd spar.It was a sly plan, while everyone thought he was just 'training' me he was actually punishing me! ..oh man the memories of being in pain AND embarassed simultaneously! he literally whooped my ass.

ngf said...

damn you and your left-handedness!!...you abomination!!

DJ said...

I remember holding up a stack of books for long periods of time...

I know it's not related but I still wonder if you will get to the subject of dads and their love for Soju and smoking? Also how moms are quiet and submissive to their husbands but crazy loud and scary with their kids, it's bipolar thing. They both agree that the old folk singers from Korea are the best and modern Kpop groups are inferior.

oogi said...

i know that this has nothing to do with this website or post, but i just thought that only fellow koreans could really enjoy this clip~

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpgKB9WvkUQ

by the way, it's not the real park ji sung~

meems said...

ok seriously, it's 11pm on a weeknight. i woke my sister up because I had to read her the blog about extra homework and Kumon. I couldn't even read it because i was laughing so hard. I love your blog! It makes me feel "normal"!!!!

Cindy (and Brian) said...

I wish I had this blog as a kid so I didn't feel like I was the only one getting smacked with plastic hanger/hairbrush/back-scratcher/spoon/etc - all while being yelled at and not being allowed to cry. Its so great to be able to laugh about it now!

Cindy (and Brian) said...

I wish I had this blog as a kid so I didn't feel like I was the only one getting smacked with plastic hanger/hairbrush/back-scratcher/spoon/etc - all while being yelled at and not being allowed to cry. Its so great to be able to laugh about it now!

suzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
me said...

If you've ever watched "My Sassy Girl", the main character mentions how he has to be careful sneaking in since his mom will use whatever is at hand to beat him. And he sneaks in while she's pounding the laundry. With the sticks. I thought that was awesome.
Coming from a drycleaning family, we had a neverending supply of hangers with the cardboard tubes. They may not seem like much, but when they come swishing at your legs, you regret not having taken them seriously.

Anonymous said...

I recall having my mouth washed out with soap whenever I would back-talk, or say a dirty word. The old fashioned brown lye soap that came in big bars, in the days when washing machines in Korea were still a pipe dream.

Tracy said...

I was never stupid enough to talk back during punishment, but I soon learned that looking her in the eye was just as bad! Word from the wise: keep your eyes downcast -.-

seitzk said...

My mom SO DID THIS - with our wooden shoehorn! Then, when that went missing (nothing to do with me - honest!) she upgraded to a hot-pink, utterly terrifying car windshield ice scraper, one of the big ones that was a good 18 inches long. It had a huge brush on one end. It still scares me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man. I ALWAYS talked back, I ALWAYS looked them straight in the eye to make them as guilty as possible for hitting me. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes, time for a day long whooping!

Anonymous said...

bahaha...this is soo true....the thing is, chinese people are even more crazy...like korean parents are strict, but chinese parents dont give a crap about their girls. I have a friend that is beaten like everyday and is too scared to do anything...but this forum is funny hahaha

Anonymous said...

bahaha...this is soo true....the thing is, chinese people are even more crazy...like korean parents are strict, but chinese parents dont give a crap about their girls. I have a friend that is beaten like everyday and is too scared to do anything...but this forum is funny hahaha

Anonymous said...

i had a korean friend whose parents gave her all these crazy punishments. i think that's why she's bipolar now.

soso said...

This is all incredibly disturbing. I guess because people don't really know what to do or say when confronted with the spectre of "child abuse"--an inflammatory phrase--at the same time, the knee-jerk emotion here seems to be laughter.

I wonder why that is?

Having had a pretty volatile KM, I identify. In my Korean culture class my prof said Korean cultures aren't more violent than others; but I do believe that physical violence is more common in K families than Western ones. I wish there was a study to demonstrate this. Maybe I'll do it someday.

JijiN3k0 said...

My mother (Not Korean) used to tell my sister and me "Bring the swizzle stick and come"

It is very sad when you have to bring the weapon used against you. :(


jijineko.blogspot.com

sandra said...

yeah my mom would smack me over the head plenty of times, or just throw something at me (tis the 'korean temper') or when i was younger she would take a stick and hit it on the bottom of my feet- the thinner the stick, the more it stung. hitler would have made a great korean mom.

johnji said...

thanks chiyo for bringing up old memories, i had a KM and a KD, my KD would be the main punisher, he would line all three of us(3 brothers) he would hit the youngest one first and work his way up to me. he would use a broom handle like stick that he kept in a special place and he would only stop if we fell down, and of course we couldn't fall down on the first hit. we would all struggle to our rooms after the beating and my KM would put neo-sporen on out bruised ass while all of us were in tears including mon and tell us to be good saying things like "you know you dad only hit you because he loves you"

Hannah said...

Man, I remember getting beat by my umma 'til I was TWELVE. Yea, she would grab anything hard enough to hit me with, her hands, hangers, wooden spoon, those little brooms to sweep up dirt, etc. (never got beaten with the dinner plate though LOL). One time I remember BEGGING for mercy in kneeling over the tub with my bare butt out for her to spank, and afterwards I'd look in the mirror and my butt looked like peacock feathers from her handprints :bright red and pink.

Anonymous said...

my KM's weapon of choice was a long plastic shoe horn. now this plastic was made of some special monster blend of poly-eurathane (sp?) as now, more than 15 years later, it still hangs in her garage with nothing more than a few dents and probably a few old layers of dead skin from my ass cheeks. oddly enough, i now have an obsessive fascination with shoe horns and can't live without 'em...

Anonymous said...

oh man this brings back memories :P ~ one major weapon of my KM was to not only tear me down with her viciously sharp words but make up conversations and insults she 'heard' from other people about me to drive home her message of the day

n s c said...

oh man! i thought my KM was the only one that thought up that whole "find your own stick" punishment trick! it was such a mindgame, b/c you can't bring back something too small, or else, catch the wrath... and so spot on about the not talking back part. you learn that really quickly.

Anonymous said...

mine was always a wooden spoon or a ruler..and i remember my mum chasing me around the house with a wooden spoon. i would run to the bathroom (the only room with a lock) and lock myself in there until she had calmed down..thank God for locks on doors

Anonymous said...

I was a wooden spoon kid, too. My Korean mom would start screaming at us from the kitchen, when we heard the rattle of utensils from her pulling out the kitchen drawer- we ran! Her other favorite weapon was a chopstick. This was especially useful for piano practicing. I knew I was in trouble when she turned off the metronome. She would use the chopstick to tap out the rhythm. If I made a mistake while praticing Czerny (Korean style of course- left hand 20 times, right hand 20 times, together 20 times), she would whack me in the head and then continue tapping out the rhythm WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT!

Anonymous said...

two words...fly swatter

tisher and adam said...

White mom's DO torture with guilt. And it's never direct, so your anger gets all wonky-jawed. Sucks big time. I wish I had a Korean Mom, they sound awesome.

Maida said...

My mum entitled a wooden stirring stick as the "mmeh mmeh" stick. My brother and I feared that stick. We cried before we even felt the stick touch our butt!

My mum never made us do anything seriously heinous. We got to sit in the corner, but the mmeh mmeh stick is what we feared the most. D:

Anonymous said...

I don't have a korean mum, my dad is japanese and my mum's chinese. I remember getting caned almost everyday due to either my own fault or my sister's (she pushing the blame on me).

Anyway, I got smart and ran or grabbed the cane from them and then ran. I think they gave up trying to discipline me after I was 11. I joined the track team two years later.

J said...

My mom was never that creative (thank God... or maybe I blocked it out of my memory) but my ex's KM once punished him by making him hold a chair over his head in a corner until sunset!

Anonymous said...

Love the rest of this blog but this post sucks. The saddest part is you've convinced yourself it's funny.

Anonymous said...

I agree, anonymous—
all the LOL's and mawkish nostalgia mask a frightening reality. Asians are notorious for being complicit in domestic violence cases.

Angela M. said...

I thank my KM for the discipline she provided. I can relate to several of these posts. I would bet that most of you who have endured KM discipline are quality individuals. You respect authority, the elderly, and hard work. You have a clear sense of right and wrong and you chose to do what is right. When a friend or family is in need, you are the first to help wanting nothing in return. You have a professional career or you are currently studying for one. Your future is bright. Thanks again to all KM's and the discipline you provided!

elizabeth said...

Angela, let's be honest and think clearly. There is a difference between "discipline" and "abuse," especially when it comes to teaching CHILDREN. You can teach a child how to be a "quality individual" by showing them how to be a quality individual. Thinking that the professional and personal accomplishments/qualities you mention required beatings from a parent to achieve is just plain foolish and it is a lie you are telling yourself in order to cope. It makes me very nervous to read these "funny" stories. I cannot respect people who hit children. It is not funny now or ever. For the sake of the Korean American community, and all of us, I hope this is a tradition that gets dropped quickly. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

stuffkoreanmomslike.blogspot.com; You saved my day again.

Anonymous said...

My KM loved having me bring rulers to her. I soon developed a compulsive habit of hiding rulers. To this day I don't have any rulers at home or in the office!

Anonymous said...

Being born and raised in the states. I remember back in the day, swapping playground smack down stories with friends of different backgrounds and you're right. Myself and others with KMs always had the most oddly crushing defeats. While I always had the arbitrary "hands up" with no deadline and ass kickings. It was times when she'd bust out her birthright powers of distilling schemed punishment into wit and WTF that truly scared the shit outta me. I can only compare it to a master haiku poet telling someone a dead baby joke. I remember one time I got in trouble. She told me that she would punish me later on that night. It got late, nothing happened and I went to sleep. Some time afterwards she came busting into my room and tells me to go down stairs. Then orders me to take off my shirt and go into the empty garage. Tells me I can't turn on the lights and leaves me there for god knows how long. After sitting there for a while, she randomly flick on and off the garage lights in quick intervals from the inside switch, waits a long while and does it again. When she let me back in, she says nothing. Sensory deprivation time warp is truly cunning. She majored in child psychology in Korea. All I can say is that shit works, but I'll never do it to my kids.

Dori Dori! said...

I remember when I couldn't solve math problems as fast as her. She would beat me with the math book. I was beat with other subject books too.

When I was little, my parents locked me and my sister in a dark closet because we were too noisy. there was spiders in that closet, and wow, I would never do that to my kids.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. I believe 맴매 is done to those who really deserve it - either you were being disrespectful, you were being 'fresh,' or you just really needed a good beating to get some sense into you. I totally believe in corporal punishment - too many kids are running around these days having no morals and no sense of respect to elders.

It's a Waddles World said...

Haha! My KM once made my brother squat in the corner holding a dictionary over his head for an hour because he forged her signature and got caught!

unchienne said...

Master interrogators too. I remember my mother use to constantly accuse me of being promiscuous in HS (I wasn't allowed to date). Like a human lie detector, she'd rely on the force of my denials to let her know what, if anything, I'd done. Most times she had me in tears, protesting my innocence, and shielding myself from occasional smacks used to emphasize her point. Is it any wonder I was almost 20 before going on my first date? :)

Anonymous said...

I had a KM who did all the whcking, yelling, throwing things, pulling my hair, disowning me and my brother, calling us ungrateful "green frogs," etc.
Now she denies she did any of it.

It was terrifying atthe time and is confusing now. I can't imagine what I did to deserve all that; I mean, I was a good kid. Straight A's from kindergarten through Harvard, never got in any trouble of any kind, did my chores, never missed a day of school, didn't drink, do drugs, or have sex, quiet and inconspicuous because I was always reading.... And yet she was always going on about putting me in a "Tough Love" program. For what, I never could understand. Being class valedictorian? A virgin? Sober?

Maybe I didn't get it because my dad was not Korean.

But I consider it child abuse, and her denying it ever happened plus calling me a liar who "makes up stories" -- and not being above slapping me in the face to this day -- have made me decide to have no further contact with her. She's screwed with my head enough. No more. I've asked her to stop and she won't, and I'm invoking my right to self-defense. Because that s--- hurts. I am afraid of her to the extent that if I get a letter from her, or an e-mail, I'm actually scared to open it. Who knows what craziness it contains.

And it is enough, already. No more.

Jessica said...

So true XD
My mom's favorite form of punishment was forcing me and my sister to hold our hands out while she cracked a wooden spoon (with a hole in the middle) onto our palms repeatedly. If that was not accessible, she would beat us with whatever she was holding. I once got knocked over the dome with a coconut ladle for telling a joke. Ahhh yes, good times. =)

Anonymous said...

I am korean, and my mom keeps beating me up for not studying. My grades are average, I get about 3 As, 3 Bs and 2 Cs. I don't really like studying and I already planned what I want to do in the future and that is being a pro skier or working in a fim production company. I am tired of my mom beating me up, swearing at me, telling me that I am just worthless garbage. And I don't want to call the police or the child abuse place because I don't want my relatitives think I am not normal and not loving my mom.
What should I do?

Anonymous said...

My mom beats me up when I don't study. what should I do?