Friday, October 06, 2006

Amazing Day, Part 2

Yesterday, I met my buddy Jang Woong at Ju-an Station, in Inch'eon, and we drove to the maternity ward where his wife Bo Hyun has been staying for the past couple weeks. We had lunch with Bo Hyun in the ward's cafeteria (decent food, but JW had his reservations based on previous meals there), and saw the baby.

The baby's name is Ji-an (wisdom and peace); as you might imagine, his Western name is John. JW said, "If you say 'Ji-an' quickly, it reminds you a bit of Gianni Versace." I had to agree, and I thought about other Italian names like Giancarlo Giannini. It turns out that JW's parents were the ones who named the baby, but I think they picked a good name. JW said that it'll be up to Ji-an, later in life, as to whether he keeps his Western name or leans toward a particular rendering of it (Jean, Gianni, John, Johnny, etc.).

The maternity ward occupied several floors of a seven- or eight-storey building. We had to go to the fourth floor, which was labeled "5" on the elevator (4 is a bad luck number in East Asia; the Chinese character for 4 rhymes with the character for "death"). After eating lunch, we went over to where the babies were being kept and I had my first glimpse of Little John. Ji-an was wrapped papoose-style; he looked like a human bullet or a white-and-pink exclamation point. As with all babies, he was cute as hell, his head turned to one side as he slept and dreamt infantile dreams.

We went back to Bo Hyun's room-- essentially a glorified yeogwan-- and talked for a bit. Bo Hyun's father was supposed to arrive around 2 or 3; he finally showed up and I had the chance to speak a few words with him before he immersed himself in conversation with JW. I decided to take some pictures of the happy family; here they are:

I gave the family some humble gifts-- baby toys that John won't be able to use for another month or so. JW drove us back to Seoul; I had the chance to listen to the many voice options on his satellite navigation system: sexy moll, goofy airhead, gangsta from a southern province, anxious father, and chirpy daughter. Pretty funny stuff. I especially enjoyed the sexy voice: she sounded as though she were having an orgasm every time she talked: "Ooooooh, you want to turn left here, baby."

JW and I hit JW's home, then went over to Namsan for a hike (the easy route-- I ribbed JW about being out of shape, and he didn't take that so well), talked about whatever, and by the time the day was over, it was 7:30pm. I had hoped to hit Smoo to do some work in the evening, but discovered I was just too tired.

Today, I've once again skipped out on my relatives (this time, though, I can't say it's because I'm sick: the past couple of years, I have indeed been sick), and will be trundling over to Smoo shortly. Charles lent me his copies of "Donnie Darko" and "Monty Python's The Holy Grail," so I might viddy those while I'm at the office.

And that, folks, is my Ch'useok in a nutshell. I hope your own holidays are going well, and if you're in a country that's not currently celebrating the harvest moon, I nevertheless hope the day brings you some good cheer.


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