Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's That Time...again: 애교 Overdrive

It's that time of the year where even though it's been growing cold pretty consistently that suddenly it's REALLY cold now. So everyone, is walking around shivering, rubbing their hands together and otherwise going on about how cold it is.

"Cho!" or "Cold!" is the frequent refrain heard when you're wandering around. (Note: My Romanization of the term might be completely off...if so, correct me...thanks.)

My thing is I didn't grow up in this country or in a place that is consistently quite cold during the winter. I was born and raised in consistently temperate state of California. I've grown to love the colder months and the distinct changes of season. In fact, this year, the changing of the leaves seems to be particularly beautiful, or I'm just consistenly hormonal. Maybe it's both. This, yes, in spite of the fact that I think Koreans stress too much the "we have four seasons" talk, but the country does have a distinct change of seasons which I've enjoyed experiencing. You can literally feel it when the heat and humidity switches off, and, like today, you can literally feel it when it's time to fire up the humidifier and unpack the winter gear.

Stories of how cold it can get here is something you'll learn if you read even a brief summary of the Korean War.

The Korean winter I've seen described as both "brutal" and "savage". I can't say I disagree with either when winter hits its peak. And, I know that being further south on the peninsula means that I've still not seen the worst of it.

Knowing that there is a clear cycle that means I know that when the leaves start turning and the wind kicks up that I ought to break out the warm coat, warm hat, gloves and a winter scarf. Maybe part of that is because being an insulin dependent diabetic I get sick much more easily than someone without a compromised immune system, but, whatever the reason, still I know to bundle up.

This morning I bundled up and headed out for the day. The cold isn't the only part of this yearly cycle.

The near consistent whining about it is also part of the cycle. I think this is part of the culture. There is a distinct way of communicating here called 애교, egg-yo (thanks to Jen for giving me the term.) My crude explaination is this: whining to get what you want. Both men and women do it here, but it is more predominant with woman. However, I've heard men also turn it on pretty heavy in some situations. Granted, people talk about the weather everywhere. It's the default conversation of choice if it's just time for small talk or there isn't really much to talk about with someone. However, here it feels like it's more predominant, and my untested and, based purely on anedotal evidence is 애교 is a big part of what is going on.

This is a yearly thing. I'm doing my thing bundled up all nice, warm and going about my business, and then I see people who seem to have not bothered to look out the window before opening the door and who didn't notice the cold swoosh of wind when they opened their door. These are adult Koreans I deal with, for the most part, so I always wonder what the surprise is.

I don't get the shock and awe that cold brings to the people who've lived here their whole lives. Photobucket

It's a yearly occurrence! Beyond the culture of 애교, egg-yo, maybe I'm missing a nuanced understanding of the significance of bonding through whining. Maybe today there was a precipitous dip in the temperature, but, even then, it's mid-November. 'Tis the season for precipitous dips in them temperature.

I say just bundle up and enjoy the cold. And, if you're one to get sick more than you ought like me, don't forget to get yourself a flu shot too ;)

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