Monday, October 4, 2010

My Big Fat Korean Wedding


Well, it really wasn't *my* big fat Korean wedding but a big fat Korean wedding nonetheless. It was the wedding of my grandfather's brother's daughter's daughter's wedding so it was imperative that I go. The wedding took place in Busan, about a 4 hour drive from Seoul. The parents of the groom and bride rented a huge tour bus for the guests driving down from Seoul. However, this was no ordinary tour bus.

The wedding started at 2pm, so the guests gathered at the bus terminal at 7 in the morning to ride down together. I got up at 4 am to get ready and get down to the terminal so I was pretty exhausted and prepared to sleep on the bus. Unfortunately, this "tour" bus was equivalent to a night club bus that operated also in the morning. I got in my seat and got cozy to sleep when the driver blasted karaoke music at 7:30 in the morning. 7:30 in the freakin' mornin! And they proceeded to pass out breakfast complete with rice, bulgogi (marinated beef), donkatze (breaded pork), and various side dishes along with beer. The heartiest breakfast I have ever seen in my life.

As people filtered into the bus and my aunt introduced me to all the people that I was distantly related to, I realized that most of the people on the bus were my relatives! They were mostly the descendants of my paternal grandfather's brothers. A lot of them knew who I was because they knew my dad. I learned that they referred to my dad as Hee-ya oppa (my dad's name is Byung-hee, and oppa means older brother). I felt very welcome and stunned at the fact that I had so many relatives.

I thought about all my cousins in the States and how they don't even know these people exist on the other side of the globe. I also thought about the cultural collision and shock they will experience when they meet these people. It was a strange feeling straddling the two worlds of the same family.

Anyway, we arrived at Busan around 1 pm and waited around until the wedding started. The ceremony was short and quick. We finished eating and socializing around 4 pm and the bus came to drive us back up to Seoul.

Most of the guests got up at the crack of dawn to come down to Busan so I assumed most of them were exhausted after the wedding and reception. After all, most of them were in their 50s, 60s and 70s. I fell asleep almost immediately after we departed. But only for a short while. Another session of blasting karaoke music shocked me out of my sleep. But this time with disco lights. The entire ceiling of the bus was lined with bright, eye-blinding technicolor. After a couple of hours of singing, the MC (yes, there was an MC) suggested dancing.

I huffed at this suggestion. There was no way these old people were going to get up and dance on the aisle of the bus. But to my utter surprise, with the start of the deafening blast of techno remix of Korean oldies (ppong-jak), people in their 50s-70s stood up, went to the aisle and started doing a very jolly rendition of I-have-to-go-pee dance as they basked in the schizophrenic beams of disco lights. My. Jaw. Dropped.

Who says Asian people don't know how to party?

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