Seollal

It’s the lunar new year today. We’re back at the beginning – the year of the Rat – the first of the Chinese zodiac signs. It’s a time of wealth, order, and prosperity. It’s also a time of death, war, pestilence, and mysticism. Should be an interesting year.

If I was Korean, I’d be aged two digits more than my current Western integer. Which reminds me… A couple days after arriving back in Korea I got a knock on my door. Usually when I answer my door, the person in the hallway says something in Korean, gives an embarrassed look, smiles, and leaves. But not this woman. She said in perfect English that she was from a Buddhist monastery and was collecting money for poor children.

We talked a little bit and at one point she asked my birth date. I told her. Ah, she said, you’re a hen (not sure why she said “hen;” I’ve always heard “cock” or “rooster”). She then looked into my eyes for a couple seconds, grabbed a pen, and scribbled something on a note pad. Then she looked up at the ceiling as if doing some calculations. Four years from now will be your most prosperous year, she said. You will achieve wealth and something big will happen. I think maybe you will get married. She looked intensely at me and then smiled. I can see that you are a kind person, she said.

I smiled back and thanked her, then gave her 10,000 won. I either had my fortune told and helped some poor kids or I was just swindled out of $10. I never know the real answers to questions like these living here. But as I’ve said before, in any ambiguous social interaction, I choose to believe in the more benevolent version of whatever just happened.

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2 Responses to “Seollal”

  1. I think that’s good, but odd that she came to your door.
    The world is supposed to end in 2012 also,

  2. I know! I thought of that too. At least I’ll go out with a bang. :)

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