Friday, February 4, 2011

Korean New Year

About twenty of us scaled the steep dirt cliff. It seemed improbably that anyone in their right mind would have cleared that path, or used that particular path to carry a body for burial. Our party had everybody, the young, the old, people in suits, and this year around there was a foreign observer.

The initial climb only took about fifteen or twenty minutes, but I had never been more happy to see a grave in my life. When we finally got to the top, candy was unwrapped and thrown around, alcohol was poured in offering and money was displayed. Then we all took two bows and headed back down the trail.

Little did I know that this ceremony would happen three more times. At the second grave, my father in law told me that his great grand father was buried there. The first grave could have been a great great grandfather or a great great great grandfather, I'm not sure because I don't speak Korean that well. We visited some others. We visited a grandmother who was about a kilometer down the road and about a half kilo up a mountain.

Not everybody in the party went to visit the grandmother. Many stayed at the base of the hill where somebody else was buried, I accompanied my father and brother in law to that one, there were also a couple other relatives there too. When we got back down, we greeted the person at the bottom of the hill, and then another person who rests about ten meters above.

The weather was warm and sunny, as it is about ninety percent of the time in Jinju. I enjoy visiting my wife's ancestral land. I think they can account for thirty generations of relatives who had lived there. The quaint and well kept rice fields can attest to their diligence in maintaining the land.

I've never visited the graves of my great grand parents, and I don't even know where my grandparents are buried, but now I'd like to know. I quite enjoyed the whole ordeal. In my mind I asked the dead to look after my unborn son. Maybe the ghosts can whisper inspiration into his ear sometime. I'd like to think that.

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