23 (Mon) January 2012
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ
In Korea, traditionally, when it comes to preparing for and participating in holiday gatherings, the sons-in-law are practically free of obligation. The patriarch of the family, and his sons by extension, are responsible for the ritual aspects of the occasion – this is relatively easy, given that very little actual ritual is required nowadays. The matriarch of the family, and the daughters-in-law by extension, are responsible for the cooking – this is the most labor-intensive and important part of the occasion nowadays. The daughters, who may be formally absolved of direct responsibility with the understanding that they will be required to work as daughters-in-law in their own husbands’ families, are nevertheless obligated to pick up the slack and assist their mother when necessary, given the female-oriented nature of the food preparation. But the sons-in-law, who may otherwise have their own responsibilities at home, where they’re the actual sons, aren’t really expected to do anything except eat.
However, as my wife (the daughter), her brother (the son), and his wife (the daughter-in-law) were raised to be utterly incapable of fulfilling their traditional duties, I (the son-in-law) take it upon myself on every occasion to ensure that the table is set properly, both literally and figuratively.
With the leftovers – perfect for bibimbap – we enjoyed a quiet dinner later that evening.
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