Chu'sok - Korean Thanksgiving

Chu'sok is the Korean Thanksgiving festival. It's not "Thanksgiving" with Pilgrims and Turkey though, but rather a time when Koreans gather to commerate their ancestors, to honour their memories and to be with their families.

Some things are the same though - the women still have to do the cooking, while the men sit around having a good time. One Korean woman told me how backwards this is, and how it must seem very strange to me coming from the west... Um, yeah, wow.. 'cause the women back home don't do the cooking.. no, not at all.

Meanwhile the men have the responsibility to conduct the ceremony honouring the ancestors. Ancestor worship is extremely important here, and it's the sole responsibility of men to do this task. Women cannot.

I guess this was fine when Koreans were poorer and had larger families. If you have ten kids, I guess you're bound to have a boy in there somewhere, but now that families are down to the good old 2.4 children, what if you don't have any boys?

Well, when pregnant, you get the nice doctor to tell you if it's gonna be a girl or a boy.. and if it's "bad news" you can get rid of it. In Korea there are 128 boys for every 100 girls. There's a reason for this. The government has now made it illegal for doctors to inform patients of the gender of their unborn children ... I don't know how much this still happens.

Sounds repulsive, right? Well, what if you can only afford two children and they're both girls? Then your ancestors get forgotten....
So what? Well, so what to me, and my western tradition of not really caring about the ancestors all that much. I rank abortion as worse than forgetting the great great great great grandpa.. but they don't, and I should try not to judge Koreans by my standards. But still, I can't help it... Killing your child because you don't like its gender???

A Korean woman told me that she's the youngest child of three, and the thrid daughter in her family.

"My father tried really hard, but he still had me...."


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