18 September 2008
Pigs...Not Just Good for Samgyupsal
I'm sorry if you found the picture disturbing, but in Korea, a pig with cash sticking out of its nose is no big deal. More on that in a little bit...
THE HAGWON, newly founded by one my many cousins, has gone under way. Despite all the bureaucratic hoops we had to jump through, we're finally open for business! I've taken the lead on developing the curriculum, which has proven to be demanding, but fun. THE HAWGON is not quite a month old, but if its burgeoning popularity is any indication, I think we have a bright future. Knock on wood. Or should I say, "Help us, Mr. Pig..."
During the opening reception, one of my cousin's friends prepared an old Korean shamanistic ritual. You can read more on the significance of pigs at the Seoul Metropolitan Government website, but basically, Koreans traditionally see pigs as a sign of wealth and prosperity. Thus, it is a common practice for folks to put out a pig's head at the start of a new business or big deal endeavor. The pig's head is placed upon pans of ddeok (the one with lots of whole beans) surrounded by candles and makgeoli. Guests then bow and place money in the pig's mouth (I stuck my bill in his nostrils) as a sign of best wishes. In return, guests and neighbors are given a portion of the ddeok, which I hear, goes very well with kimchi.
My cousin told me that contractors usually conduct this ritual after they've put up a building and will use the money to buy some well-deserved beer for the construction workers. We, however, did not buy beer. The money was prudently used for office appliances.
Prior to the reception, an unmarked cardboard box had been delivered to the hagwon. I unwittingly opened the box thinking it was another box of ddeok. Can you imagine my fright when I lifted up the flaps and found the Lord of the Flies!?!
I like bacon as much as the next Korean girl, but I do not want to see its face. :)
Call me biased, but I think THE HAGWON is special. I hope others will feel this way as well.
May the pork be with us.