Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Main Event: A Confucian Wedding

Saturday was the main event; the traditional Korean wedding of Number One Son and The Bride for which me, The Wife, Number Two Son, and my fellow crockheads, The Humble Philosopher/Carpenter, BS, The Sensible One, Seester, Baby Milton and EIEIO have traveled half way around the world. This will be the third formalization of their marriage for NOS and TB. The first was a city hall wedding a year ago to help her visa application, the second was the Roman Catholic church wedding on Friday night and the third is the traditional Korean wedding on the grounds of a former Confucian monastery, now part of a University in Seoul. This is the one for which we came.

Traditional weddings are held on auspicious (auspicious, not suspicious -- go look it up if you don't know the meaning) days and Saturday, June 8 was an auspicious day, so lots of couples wanted their weddings on that date. The location of this wedding is a popular one, on the grounds of a temple whose front is pictured on the 1,000-won note of the Korean currency, so lots of couples wanted their weddings on that date in that location. Our time slot was 12:30 p.m. Mr. Cha showed up at the hotel at 11:00 with rented cars to chauffeur us to the temple. Here is the entire crockhead group,minus the photographer, of course, waiting for the cars. Mr. Cha is on the left, calling to see where the cars are. I told you I'm not a good photographer and I realize the background leaves something to be desired, although it might work as an album cover for a cutting edge music group. (Number Two Son doesn't think so.) The Wife is on the right, carrying a box with the hanbok she will don for the affair. Although we come thinking she is renting a hanbok, it turns out the bride's family has this one made for her to keep.

When we get to the temple grounds, another event is in progress, so we wait while The Wife goes to be helped into her hanbok. Although Mr. Cha and I are wearing ordinary business suits, we are given boutonnieres and white gloves to wear. As I struggle to put on the gloves, all I can think of is, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

At the entrance to the temple grounds, there are two huge bouquets of flowers and some signs, which have our time, 12:30 on them. A friendly man, who speaks very good English and turns out to be a colleague of Mr. Cha interprets the flowers and the signs and tells us a little about the ceremony in which we are about to engage. The bouquets are for the wedding. The one on the left is from a construction company (I'm not sure why they sent a bouquet, but I know the Cha's have just moved into a new house, so maybe it is from the company that built the house.) The one on the right is from the company for which Mr. Cha works, a travel agency of which he is the general manager.
The signs announce the Otto-Cha wedding. The one on the right lists my name at the top, then the name of Number One Son, his status as "firstborn" and the date and time of the wedding. The one on the left has the same information for The Bride.

The flowers and the signs, along with a guest book and someone to receive the gifts, which are primarily money are set up under a 500-year-old gingko tree, which split hundreds of years ago and now has main limbs supported by iron supports.

With all due respect for the Confucian principles upon which the ceremony was based, the main event seemed to be primarily a vehicle for the photographers' arts. (Confucianism is not considered by Asians as a religion, but a set of principles on how to live, thus there is no anomaly with devout Catholics having a Confucian ceremony.) There were two professional and an amateur who seemed to be running the show, shouting directions at NOS and The Bride about how they stood and how they tilted their heads, even during the ceremony. The marital couple first came out and posed with some nice temple tiled roof backdrops. I would hate to think what Number One Son's reaction would have been if The Wife and I had tried to dress him up in a Mickey Mouse hat and a red robe, but he was all smiles today. The Wife had been outfitted with a hanbok and here are TW and the Mother of the Bride, with the Bride in all their finery. The two red dots on the bride's cheeks, by the way, are not the result of a bad makeup artist, but are red paper circles. I am sure they have symbolic meaning of which I am unaware, although I know red is thought in Korean culture to ward off the evil eye and brides are thought to be especially susceptible to the evil eye.

The ceremony started with The Bride sitting in a small enclosed tent behind the main one. Two Confucian priests officiated, with NOS standing in front of his best man, who was holding a wooden duck. (In the olden days, they used live ducks. Ducks are used because they supposedly mate for life and are a symbol of fidelity.)

(I'm having trouble with blogspot. Earlier I lost an entire post. Right now it's not letting me upload pictures, so I'm going to go ahead and post this before I lose it, and then try continuing with more commentary and pictures.)


eburk said...

John and other crockheads - I find this totally fascinating and educational as well, especially the abbreviations and the new words.

I'll be back for more later. In the meantime, enjoy yourselves totally in spite of NW (they do not have a monoploy on screw-ups - I never did reconnect with my checked luggage on my visit to Frank in Africa several years ago).

When will you visit the DMZ? Don't forget to tell us about that as well.


Amishlaw said...

Thanks, Earl. It looks like the DMZ visit isn't going to happen because of an accident the rail line is shut down. And, there's really too much going on to fit it in. Maybe next time.