The purchasing of wrapping paper and ribbon are a few of the things that Korean Mom's consider "waste money"(see # ). Instead buying these things, they will get them for 'free'. When a Korean Mom opens a present, she will first admire and attempt to salvage the wrapping paper and any accouterments like ribbon or plastic flowers dangling on the outside of the package. It will take her 30 minutes to open a present, because she is attempting to do as little damage as possible to the precious wrapping paper she already plans to reuse two or three times. Why two or three? Because she will re gift the paper at a later time to you, then as you try and open your present, she will forcibly rip it from your clutches, open it for you, then carefully fold it, and take it back home to use again. If you ever tear open a package in her sight and create such havoc that none of the wrapping paper can be salvaged, she will make a sound similar to that of a wild animal dying ending in a sharp,"aaigoh!". Do not be surprised if a Korean Mom gives you a gift wrapped in the very same wrapping paper you gave her 10 years ago. They also do not care if the wrapping paper says "Merry Christmas!". They will wrap your birthday presents in paper decorated with fir trees and give them to you. They will also save gift boxes. Although a Korean Mom hands you a gift wrapped with "Happy Birthday" paper, and packaged in a Bloomingdale's box, do not be confused...no, it is not your birthday, and no, the Chinese herbal medicine is not from Bloomy's. You cannot return the item for a full refund at the concierge, believe me, I have tried.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The three magic words that a Korean Mom will say only 5 times to you. 1) When you are born. 2) When you get into Harvard. 3)When you marry someone who graduated from Harvard. 4) When you buy her a house. 5)When you have a son.
Have you ever seen an episode of Full House? Whenever DJ or Stephanie do something stupid Danny Tanner is always there to tell them that he loves them (weird organ music and all). Korean Moms are the anti Danny Tanner. A Korean Mom feels you should already know that she loves you. She does not need to say the words. To a Korean Mom, if she has beaten you, or screamed at you, she has told you that she does in fact, love you. When your Korean Mom beats the crap out of you with a stick she lovingly gathered from the backyard, or begins to scream at you in that high pitched voice only dogs and birds can hear, pretend she is caressing your hand, kissing the top of your head, and saying "Kid, I love you"...because that's what she is really doing. If you tell her that you need to hear the actual words come out of her mouth, she will throw back her permed head and laugh until you cry from the cruel sting of mockery.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Korean Moms have many secrets. Basically, they lie to us all the time. Accept it. They will keep all sorts of secrets from you because they feel by telling you these details, your brain will implode, and you will be damaged beyond repair. Korean Moms have secrets ranging from secret siblings to your next pre-arranged doctor's appointment. This 'keeping secrets' is affirmed by all the Korean Dramas out there that glorify the heroine who keeps her leukemia and cancer a secret from everyone in a self-sacrificing act. Here's the thing though: It's one thing to have a secret and keep it. It's entirely another to reveal that secret randomly in passing. Korean Mom's have the wonderful gift of "Tactlessness". They will keep a secret, and then at the most inopportune moment reveal it as if they are discussing the weather. "Did you go to store and buy onions? By the way, did you know I have third nipple?" "Aiggoh, sunshine so nice. You had brother who died 5 years before you". My Korean Mom always kept secrets from me, especially about Dentist appointments. She would keep it a secret, saying "Get in car! We go to Mcdonald's...". Then once I was buckled in and the car was rolling out of the driveway, "...after Dentist!". To this day, I have a huge fear of anything having to do with dentistry...or nuggets.
Korean Moms hate pets...or so they say. Even if a Korean Mom currently allows for a family pet(a dog, a bird, a hamster), at some point she rejected and abhorred the idea. Korean Moms feel that pets are dirty, and that if anything, they do not belong in the home. A Korean Mom feels that raising an animal indoors will cause the home to reek like shit. Even more than when they cook dwen-jang-jji-gae. They are also mortally afraid of pet fur. Pet fur to a Korean Mom is like what water was to the Wicked Witch in Oz. If you are fortunate enough to get your Korean Mom to yield to your pet-longing, she will then proceed to force your puppy, hamster, or whatever, to live outside. It doesn't matter if it's 10 degrees outside, your dog will be tied to a pole in the backyard treading a 5 foot radius at all times. Cats? Don't even think about it. Cats are despised above all creatures to the Korean Mom. They are the spawn of the Devil.
The Korean Mom may make an exception for a small dog. Something tiny, fluffy, yappy, brainless, and insane, basically a genetically mutated animal, which they will name something ridiculous like "Mandoo" or "eepooni", or some fucked up name like that. This creature will then become the most beloved being in the home. It will not even have to eat dog food, it will consume Korean food. Beware: if you plan on buttering up your Korean Mom, or compromising with her by getting one of these glorified breathing teddy bears, you must accept the fact that you will then proceed to become a second class citizen in your own home. "Eepooni" will be hugged, loved, kissed, and fed more than you. Your Korean Mom will even pick up "Eepooni's" shit. She will make you pick up your own. I once wanted to adopt a puppy, so after much begging my mom took me to the Humane Society. After seeing and smelling the place, she then proceeded to cry on the bench by the entrance, beating her chest and saying that she wanted to die (see #3 ). We eventually got a dog, and no, she didn't in fact, die.
Monday, March 24, 2008
All Korean Moms think they have some sort of pychic power to interpret dreams. Anytime someone has a random dream with a dog, teeth falling out, or a death, a Korean Mom will try and tell you what it means. She is like a Korean version of Miss Cleo and the psychic hotline, except her opinion is always free, and you can't even pay her to stop. Believe me. I've tried. Don't ever tell your Korean Mom about a dream that you've had because she will try and use its 'meaning' to wield her power and control in your life. A Korean Mom will also try and use her own dreams to wield her power and control in your life. Anytime she has a dream, she believes it is a sign from God, as if she is the only existing conduit for divine intervention. Once my mom had a dream I fell off my bike. I wasn't allowed outside for a month. When I finally emerged, my skin was so pasty white, the kids at school started calling me Boo Radley and Powder. To this day she tells everyone she saved my life. I don't even know how to ride a bike. I never had one...my Korean Mom said it was "Waste Money"(see #13).
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Face it. If you're a short guy, Korean Moms do not fancy you. They are vertically prejuduced. Korean Moms think you or your parents did something wrong for this tragedy to have befallen you. Secretly they believe that either you or your parents didn't pray hard enough. If you are a girl and you are short, Korean Mom's are telling you to thank your lucky stars you weren't born a boy. If you look at all those male Korean movie stars our Korean Moms admire, many of them are outrageously tall. Not only are they tall, they are very pale, have large eyes, long permed hair, willowy figures, soft voices...basically they are women. Korean Moms want their Korean daughters to marry tall men, especially if their daughters are short. The man's tallness will negate their daughter's unfortunate shortness, like yin and yang. To a Korean Mom, shortness is a sign that not only did your Korean Mom not feed you enough bahn-chan and goh-ghee/meat, but there is something seriously wrong with you. To a Korean Mom a short man is the Quasimodo of society. You should be riding the short bus shorty. The only way a short man can redeem himself in a Korean Mom's eyes is by being undeniably successful. I'm not talking about being a 'good person', I'm talking about being rich. I once (OK twice), dated a short guy...my mom still pretends it never happened.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
...their skin off. Yes, it's time to mention what every Korean Mom has in the shower. The infamous 'Italy Cloth', or 'Ddeh' cloth. It removes dead skin, a layer of fat, some muscle, and if you scrub hard enough; your soul. Korean Moms are gangsta because they don't cry out from the pain, they say 'Joh-ttah!' instead. Scrubbing with the ddeh cloth should be on a Fear Factor episode. It's either red or green with 2 black stripes running down one end. Either way...it hurts like a mofo. Korean Moms use this EVERYWHERE. They will even hire other Korean Moms to use it on them at Saunas while they lie there in their flayed pale nakedness. Like a piece of raw chicken. They will try and scrub off dirt, hair, moles, birthmarks...everything is up for grabs. Warning: if you know your Korean Mom has used this cloth, no matter how curious you may be, or how 'Shee-won-hae' she claims it is, do not use it on yourself. It's been.....*whispers* there. The Ddeh cloth is a one woman cloth, get your own.
How many of your Korean Moms have those photos of you somewhere at home? You know, the ones where if a child protective services agent ever got a hold of them, your beloved Korean Mom would be cuffed and awaiting trial? Every Korean Mom feels they must document naked pictures of their babies in some way shape or form. It's a proud moment. They grandiosely display you in your ass naked glory, in your first bath or on a bear skin rug, and send them to grandparents and other old people as proof that yes, you are indeed a real live boy/girl. No, your Korean Mom didn't hide a beach ball under her maternity mumu for 9 months....she really did have a child. These pictures are not the tasteful sort where your wang is covered by a rubber ducky. It's full monty. Your nether regions are the crowning glory of the shot...in some cases the ONLY thing in the shot. Who cares about your face as long as you have plumbing down there. Everyone who's anyone gets to see your junk before you even know what it's there for.
What? What's that you say? You mean this didn't happen to you? Oh.
(Yes...that is Burt Reynolds....don't ask me where I got that. Don't front. You know you like it.)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Korean Moms firmly believe that all Korean children must play a classical instrument. They will break you in with private piano lessons, then attempt to add to your musical repertoire by enrolling you in orchestra or band. Choir does not count because Korean Moms believe all Korean people can sing, which is why they will force you to sing the "Song-ah-gee" song at family gatherings like a preforming monkey. A Korean Mom will go out of her way to make sure her kids are improving in their musical abilities; forcing them to practice until their fingers or lips begin to bleed and swell. These physical ailings are signs of good progress, and when she sees them she may reward her children with an exuberant "Joh-ttah!", "Good Job!". Korean Moms will often ambush you when other Korean Moms are over at the house, demanding you to "Play song!". You have 2 choices: 1) Play the damn song (...and you better not make any mistakes, because if you do, she'll make you practice over and over after everyone leaves as punishment), or 2)...wait, there is no 2. I remember dreading my piano lesson days more than any other day of the week. The 1 hour I had to spend with the piano teacher from hell felt like 10. I am one of those unfortunate souls that was forced to take lessons for over 8 years. I am now classically trained to play a very stirring rendition of 'Chopsticks' and when I am in the mood, 'Heart and Soul'.
The enemy of every Korean Mom? Abercrombie and Fitch. They do not understand why anyone would purchase jeans with holes deliberately ripped in them. They do not understand why said jeans cost double the price of the jeans they bought at Nordstrom Rack and were made in Korea. It baffles them that their children will continuously wear any type of clothing with holes in them at all; worn in over time or bought. My mom once put knee patches from Joanne's Fabrics on a brand new pair of jeans I bought from A&F, covering the precious holes I had meticulously singled out from a stack of jeans. Not the cool patches in the shape of 70's flowers or ladybugs; I'm talking about knee patches that you buy in a farming catalogue. Needless to say, she made me wear them to school and I looked like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.
Korean Moms love everything made in Korea. They don't just love it, they will put their lives on the line for it. They firmly believe that everything made in Korea is far superior to things made elsewhere. When they buy things at Costco, like socks or bbanse, they will scour the package for the label that says, "Made in Korea". If this label cannot be found, they will say, "Aigoh, Korea make better". If they purchase items made elsewhere, like Mexico or Japan, and they fall apart or break, Korean Moms will say, "Because not made in Korea". Don't ever show your Korean Mom something you bought for a lot of dough that was not made in Korea. She will take it as a personal slap in the face. Korean Moms will attempt to obstain from purchasing things like the 'Italy towel' (special back scrubbing towel) in America, in order to wait until their next big trip to Korea and purchase items there. Then they will proceed to lug these items home in giant, and I mean giant, plaid bag. Some of my fondest memories are of my Korean Mom going to Korea and bringing back so many Korean made bras that you would think she had 20 pairs of boobs like that one Indian god, or a pregnant animal.
Sure, it's a habit leftover from war time, but girl please. How many of you have ever been embarrassed when your Korean Mom grabs 30 napkins instead of the 3 she actually needs? When you open the kitchen drawer at home is it filled with packets of ketchup from Mcdonald's and sauces from Burger King? Once my Grandma gave me a Mcdonald's ketchup packet from so long ago, the contents looked like melted chocolate. Sometimes a Korean Mom will make her child steal napkins and ketchup from an eatery in her name. God forbid you only bring back 2 packets of sauce. The Korean Mom will make you return to the counter to retrieve more and you will have to make an excuse like "We dropped the other ones", to defend yourself from the annoyed service person.
All Korean Moms claim to have decended from Korean royalty. Not just any Korean royalty, but the best dynasty, with the best King and the best rice...ever. Korean Moms also like to claim that they are from the 'purest' line of Kims, or Jongs, or Shins. They will assure you that their last name is like the holy of holys...so pure in fact, that people cannot directly look at her lest they burn up and die. They will not only ingrain this fact into you from birth, she will tell you to tell other people of this fact when they ask. No, people will never ask. If it does ever come up among a group Koreans however, at some point all 40 people will look at each other sheepishly and admit that they got this information from their Korean Moms. Let's face it, no one wants to be a szhang-nom/peasant.
A Korean Mom will always make Mee-Yuk-Gook/Seaweed soup on your birthday. Without fail, it always appears faster than the enchanted food at Hogwarts. The minute you wake up, hop or stumble out of bed...there it is...a nice hot steamy bowl of seaweed soup. She may not give you a cake(you might get some dduk/rice cake though you lucky bastard), a gift(maybe a crisp 20, or a benjamin if she's a baller), throw you a party (where other people besides your relatives are invited), or even let you go outside after a certain hour, but she will wake up extra early and make you some seaweed soup. Do not ever cross a Korean Mom and tell her that you do not like Seaweed soup. Even if it makes you break out into hives or throw up in your mouth, it will be to no avail. The Korean Mom will simply scream,"Is good for you!" and proceed to give you stank eye(see #5), but 'The Eye' will be slightly toned down because it is indeed your birthday and she does not want to kill you the same day she pushed you out (with no epidural and while biting down on a stick or rag...according to her.). She will also tell you very seriously that you must consume every single drop or else you will not grow a year older. At my age I plan to never slurp another drop of Mee-Yuk-Gook again, that way I can stay this age forever. Unfortunately, when I moved to my current apartment, my mom stocked my pantry with enough dried Mee-Yuk to last me until I turn 100 or until Bush finds Osama...both which will be never.
Monday, March 17, 2008
They love this. If you are between the ages of 24-40 and unmarried, your Korean mom is currently trying to marry you off. Don't deny it. The sooner they get you married, the sooner they get to be 'halmoni's/grandmothers and not 'ahjumahs'/older-married-women. You are not to marry just anyone. Your Korean mom is planning your marriage to either a Korean Doctor or Lawyer, and maybe if she's liberal and a little out there...a Korean businessman or woman. As you grow older, her attempts to 'get you married' will escalate. She will even resort to setting you up with people in Korea who are looking for Greencards, that you have never met, and have only seen photoshopped pictures of (...that guy in that picture she showed you? You know, the one from Daejon that works for Samsung? He's actually bald, 5 feet tall, and has a snaggle tooth...but you won't know until the wedding). She will never ever ever, I repeat...ever...be ok with you wanting to marry Artists, or Ministers. She may say she is eventually ok...but deep down she is not. Mainly because she can now never brag about you again (see#18). The last category in this set is considered a death sentence to a Korean Mom who does not want to see her child suffer at the hands of other Korean Moms at the Minister's church. If her child does choose to marry a minister, and the Korean Mom somehow agrees, she will complain, but secretly enjoy her new status as 'one who gave birth to holy child'. If you choose to marry or date a person belonging to the other said groups, be prepared to have your partner experience shunning, an elevated form of the silent treatment, whenever he/she is in the presence of the Korean Mom. If you are currently dating, partnered, or married to anyone in the list above...I salute you. You're my hero.
Korean moms will go out of their way to point out any sort of physical deformity. Even things that you never noticed about yourself; like your receding hairline, bushy eyebrows, yellowed teeth. If you have spent a few hours around a Korean mom, she will proceed to nitpick on your physical appearance. Moles or 'Juhm' that you once thought were 'beauty marks' will have to suffer an attempt to be picked off by a Korean mom with her fingernails. If she cannot accomplish this, she will refer you to a Korean doctor who will remove it and use no anesthesia to do so. It is important if you are getting ready to visit a Korean mom to cover up all sorts of pimples, pock marks, or blemishes on your face by any means nessecary. Otherwise, she will point them out loudly to you and all those in earshot, causing you to be wracked with guilt, anger, and yes, shame. I had a stressful semester once and went home for a visit. You could literally play connect the dots with all the zits forming constellations on my face. I swear you could see Orion's Belt forming on my chin. After being subjected to my mom and grandma pointing them out to every passerby (church ladies, the pharmacist, the chinese herbal medicine guy, the mailman, our dog) I vowed to never go home without a mask again.
(This post is dedicated to Little Bae)
Korean moms love to brag. Bragging often leads to competetive comparing (see # 2). They will brag regarding just about anything, usually in the presence of other Korean moms. Anything from bargain shopping, their children's accomplishments, or the daughter-in-law's Korean cooking are up for bragging rights. When a Korean mom brags it is extremely deceptive to one who has never witnessed this event before. At first glance, the Korean mom is complaining about her child's straight A's or her 50 for 1 dollar panties from Costco. She will act as if these things are burdens to bear, not crowning achievements. Do not be fooled, she is indeed bragging. If you are foolish enough to enter into a brag-off with a Korean mom, do not attempt to console her while she acts sad or annoyed by the home made kimchee her daughter-in-law made on her hands and knees on the linoleum floor. Instead tell your own brag-sob-story to one up her. Then watch out....game on. Be forewarned, do not attempt to enter into the conversation while a large group of Korean moms are bragging. It will only result in your demise due to the overwhelming power of several Korean moms' stank eyes (see #5) bearing down on you at once. Once when I was a kid I overheard my mom bragging to her church friends about how I was finally growing boobs. You should have heard her pained and annoyed tones, punctuated with sighs, as she described my anatomy to her Korean mom friends. I can still hear her now...
Korean moms do not understand why their kids move out. If they had it their way, kids and parents would live together until marriage -- at which time the kids would buy a house big enough for everyone, with parents living on one floor and grown, married children and their spouses living on the other. The only exception is if the kids have faraway (100+ miles) jobs or schools. Often this small detail will not stop a Korean mom from packing up her shit and moving in with you anyways. At which point she will ferment vegetables on your radiator, and hang your handwashed 'bbanse' in the backyard of your french colonial in your gated community. You have been warned.
Most Korean moms do not believe in dishwashers. They say it "waste water" and "do not clean good," and prefer to roll up their sleeves and scrub with their bare hands. They often claim that loading a dishwasher requires more work than handwashing dishes themselves. Dishwashers do serve a very important function for Korean moms -- extra storage.
All Korean moms disapprove of their daughters-in-law on some level. This long tradition of hatred is deeply rooted in Korean moms' unreasonably high opinion of their sons (See #7) and the belief that their precious sons are being stolen/taken away through marriage. Moms are encouraged by Korean dramas to exhibit erratic behavior when sons develop an interest women...any woman. This adversity can begin as early as the dating period. One time I didn't wash a dish (yes, one dish) that I used at my ex-boyfriend's house and his mother called me a whore, and yes, he called to tell me.
No matter how much they may deny it, all Korean moms are racist. One Korean mom might be a little less obvious about it than another, but when it comes right down to it, they all believe that other races are inferior to Koreans in intelligence and cleanliness. They also like to use derogatory names for the other races: "jok-bahl" for japanese, "ddae-nohm" for chinese, and even "bbal-gang-ee" for North Koreans, who are in fact, yes, Korean too...an easily overlooked fact. In fact, they are so racist that they even discriminate against Koreans from other provinces within South Korea. My mom will say, "Oh Mrs Lim is a liar because she's from Pusan. All Pusan people are liars. Big liar". They will also often say, "Korea is not shaped like a rabbit, it's a tiger". When I try to look for the tiger, it's like the magic eye trick painting...I just can't see it.
Korean moms believe that most gifts (especially flowers, chocolates, and other items of indulgence) are "waste money!" They prefer gifts to be a bundle of cash that they could squirrel away in their sock drawer and never spend. This stash is moderatly depleted during holidays like New Years or birthdays when they will hand out crisp 20 dollar bills to kids. Gift certificates are also considered wasting money. Korean moms typically take one step into the shop and declare, "Nothing to buy!" and "Too expensive!", and the gift card will never see the light of day again.
Korean moms are addicted to sacrifice and pain. If they were sexual beings, which they are not, they would be kinky and love S&M. They are convinced that no one has had it harder than them. They also enjoy letting their children know how much they have sacrificed and endured pain -- usually to give a guilt trip or to trivialize their children's own pain. (e.g. Child: "Mom, my legs hurt so bad from running a marathon." Korean Mom: "Waaah? You hurt from little exercise? I carried you and your father on my back, scrubbed floors and survived Korean War!! You run marathon? I run from communist! No one give me medal."). They also enjoy physical pain like acupuncture and massages that are really more like getting beaten by the mafia (except you're naked in a steam room).
Korean moms will go out of their way to tell people that they are fat. Sometimes they will say that you look 'healthy', but do not be decieved by this outwardly friendly comment. Really, it just means you're fat. There's no getting around it. Many Korean women live in fear of heading to Korea for vacation because they will be called fat by many Korean moms, sometimes by more than five different moms per day. A Korean mom does not have to have a personal relationship with you to call you out on your fatness. Her Korean momness is permission enough. One time while at work, a Korean mom walked past my open office door, then moonwalked back, popped her permed head in, and said, "You gained wieght". After she left, I hung my head and cried. I still don't know who she was.
Korean moms love to diagnose themselves and everybody else. They will often attempt to cure various diseases by consuming what other people might consider 'weeds' or 'deer shit'. My grandmother was once almost arrested in a National Forest for pulling baby ferns from a conservation area and stuffing the limp green carcasses into hefty garbage bags. Sort of like fern-napping. Many of them also believe that the expiration date on medication does not stand for anything; it's "still good".
When a Korean male is born, Korean women will sometimes hang red peppers resembling penis' around the house as a mark of pride. When a Korean girl is born, it's not like all of a sudden they're hanging taco shells or hot dog buns from the rafters...it's just not fair. Korean moms love to remind their sons and everyone else of how special and miraculous said sons are, even when they grow up to be bald 40 yr olds living at home, sleeping in the same twin bed with threadbare spiderman sheets they've had since they were 10. They are still special and miraculous.
When I call my mom to tell her I got rejected from Grad School she responds "OH MY GOD" in her accent...which somehow makes it all the worse. Then proceeds to tell me not to cry because then she'll be sad, and she doesn't want to be sad right now...and oh my God she just wants to die. (See #3)
They give good stank eye. It's almost like a super power, but often worse. Korean mom stank eye can bring anyone to their knees. The stank eye is usually paired with a sharp intake of breath that ends in a sharp 'tsk!". It is not only a mark of disapproval, it is the kiss of death.
All of us have heard our moms tell us that they wish they were dead...this is then an invitation for those in earshot to protest and list reasons for living. If you want your mom to stop saying that she wants to die, just respond, "When? Today? How?"
Korean moms love to compare. When they compare; whether it is food, races, genders, or the fruit of their own loins, they come alive with a fierce joy that is particular only to Korean moms. Although one would think that comparing would make Korean moms feel jealous or sad, comparing makes them feel better about themselves. It can almost be considered a sport of sorts where there are no losers; only winners....and whiners. Note: The right to 'compare' does NOT extend to you. This right belongs solely to Korean Moms. You should never compare your Korean Mom to other Korean Moms in her presence. You will be repremanded at once with, "Don't Compare!", followed by Stank Eye (See #5).
At a certain juncture in a Korean mother's life...she feels the undeniable urge to rock the Little Orphan Annie look. The perm is supposed to enhance fullness in her hair...but usually results in a frizzy halo that ushers in another era in a Korean mother's life (see 'Ahjumah'). This is a rite of passage and cannot be stopped. One will often hear young Korean women saying to each other "I'm never going to get that perm thing", but they all know deep in their hearts they will eventually succumb to the undeniable pull of the Perm. As a Korean mom ages, the perm will never change or deteriorate...although her face might.