18 June 2009

I swear. I do not have Swine Flu.

I just got back from a quick trip to Seattle, where I attended my sister's college graduation. (Congrats, Doogal!) That was my second trip to and from the Homeland, over a span of two months. Of course, I had the great fortune to travel during the HINI pandemonium, I mean, pandemic.

Anyone who's arrived in Seoul by way of some swine-flu infested nation will know that shortly after your arrival, you will receive a call from the Korean Center for Disease Control. I've been called twice now by the CDC, and I have to admit, both phone calls were quite entertaining.

SCENE 1: The First Call
When I returned to Seoul in May, I had no idea that the CDC folks were calling all the Miguk-ins, so this is how my conversation went.


CDC Lady: (Speaks rapid Korean, none of which I am able to comprehend)

Annalog: Yes? (I say in terrible Korean) I'm sorry, but I don't speak Korean very well.

CDC Lady: (She kindly, yet nervously switches to English) Um... You know CDC?

Annalog: Um... you mean like the American CDC?

CDC Lady: No.

Annalog: Oh, no. Then, I don't know...

CDC Lady: (pause) Uh... you know INFLUENZA?

Annalog: (A light bulb switches on) Oh! Yes, I know.

CDC Lady: Do you feel any flu or cold symptoms?

Annalog: No.

CDC Lady: (longer pause) Um... (reverts back to Korean) If you are feeling any cold or flu symptoms over the next seven days, please call your local health center.

Annalog: Okay. Thank you,

CDC Lady: (Hangs up, and takes a shot of soju.)

SCENE II: The Second Call
It is my second day back from the States. A phone call from the Korean CDC is expected.

"Gotta get that-that..."

Young CDC Dude: (in fluent English) Hello, is this Annalog?

Annalog: Yes, speaking.

Young CDC Dude: I'm calling from the Korean Center for Disease Control. I'm calling because you arrived from America, blah, blah, blah.... Are you feeling any cold or flu symptoms.

Annalog: (Trying desperately to hide a lingering cough) No.

Young CDC Dude: Really?

Annalog: No cold or flu symptoms...

Young CDC Dude: Can I ask you one more question.

Annalog: Yes.

Young CDC Dude: Are you Korean American?

Annalog: Yes...

Young CDC Dude: Really? You don't sound Korean-American. (pause) You sound like a pure white person.

Annalog: (Is unsure whether or not that was a compliment, so she emits an awkward half-laugh) Really? Oh...

Young CDC Dude: If you experience any cold or symptoms, please call your local health center. Also, we will calling you 4-5 more times within the next two weeks.

Annalog: (Thinks to herself, WTF!?!) Ok. Thank you.

- End -

I'm not sure if the CDC rep was simply captivated by my "pure white person voice" or if one of the passenger or airline personnel narked on me, but calling me 4 to 5 more times seems a little much. I told you already. NO COLD OR FLU SYMPTOMS! Cough. Cough. Cough.

03 June 2009

What is Chejil?

I don't know if you're tired of hearing about my chejil, but I swear, it's kind of taken over my life.

So, y'all are probably wondering, what is this chejil (체질)? Here's what I've learned through my Cousin N, our hanuisa, and some cursory searches through Google. For a long while, according to findings in Oriental Medicine, humans were classified as one of four body "constitutions" or chejil. One's chejil is determined from birth and is distinguished by the relative size and strength of one's organs. In turn, one's chejil influences one's appearance, temperment, physiology, and pathology. A specially trained hauisa, is able to determine your chejil based on your pulse. source

In 1965, after extensive research and practice, a Korean Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Dr. Do Won Kwon, developed this concept of chejil further and found that humans may be classified as one of eight body types. source

Go ahead and search "8 Constitution Medicine" if you'd like the complete listing of the eight body types. I am only familiar with three.

Pretty much everyone at The Hagwon has gone to see the hanuisa - my cousins (the bosses), our office manager (kwajang-nim), and the other instructors. Funny enough, we all fall under one of three chejil: toyang (Pancreotonia), mogyang (Hepatonia) , or gu-um (Colonotonia).

Here's what I know about the three:

1. Toyang [토양]
The most common body type, according to the doctor, is toyang. Folks with the toyang chejil are advised to avoid fowl, spicy food (including mustard, green onions, and onions!), sesame oil, and nuts. Theoretically, this diet doesn't seem so bad, unless you live in Korea. The toyang chejil is apparently very common amongst Koreans. Good luck trying to get Koreans to cut out kimchi. Toyangs are known to be sweethearts, but they can also be impulsive and quick-tempered.

2. Mogyang [목양]
One's chejil is hereditary. Thus, based on the fact that all three of my co-workers/cousins are mogyangs, I've surmised that my mother is most likely a mogyang. Given that I'm surrounded by mogyangs, I learned a lot about this particular chejil. For example, typically, mogyangs are shaped like a snowman. (In English, we call such figures, pear-shaped, but I suppose that pears are round in Korea so such a term would refer to a different body shape.) Due to their weak lungs, mogyangs are told to avoid seafood and leafy vegetables. I would have thought that leafy greens are good for the lungs, but what do I know? It's also important for mogyangs to sweat. If they don't sweat, something is wrong with their body.

In terms of temperament, mogangs are known to be kind-hearted risk-takers who don't like to talk. In fact, excessive talking is bad for a mogyang's health.

Cyndi, Cousin N, and Cousin N's eldest daugter, J, have all been sticking quite faithfully to their mogyang diets for the past three weeks. They all seem to be enjoying their prescribed diets, though they're still waiting to see the results on their figures.

The doctor did note that if a person wants to lose weight, s/he must eat the same portion size for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I would have interpreted that to mean a super-sized breakfast, super-sized lunch, and super-sized dinner, but it sounds like he was saying to limit one's portion size.

3. Geu-eum [금음]

This is my chejil. Wah. Wah. Wah.
I'm told that my chejil is not very common. Probably for good reason. I think a lot of people with my chejil must have died -- out of misery. As I've whined about before, geu-eum aren't allowed to eat meat, dairy, flour, root vegetables, coffee, sugar, soy beans, and a bunch of other things that I'm going to ignore. As the doctor explained to me, I'm like a cow. If a cow can't eat it, I can't eat it. I didn't realize that cows like seafood, but I'm sure glad that it's on my "good for me" list. Geum-eums are also supposed to avoid excessive use of the computer. In fact, continuing with this long rambling post might be quite detrimental to my health.

Cousin N. translated a few passages from the book she purchased at the hauiwon. According to this book, ge-eums are very intelligent (true dat), but also ambitious, potentially tyrannical, and well-suited for politics (Who determined this? I'm going to punch his lights out and burn down his village!) Geu-eums are thought to make great marathon runners. The first reason being, we have strong lungs. More importantly, however, when a geu-eum sees a person fall in the race, she will be energized and more motivated to charge on ahead. (For the record, that's so not true...I would never run a marathon.) Famous geu-eums include Picasso and Nero, ancient Roman tyrant. I didn't realize that both Picasso and Nero went to a hanuiwon.

I've been pretty darn faithful to my chejil diet for the past three weeks. Do I think it's worth the effort? I'll have to give you my response in another post. This post is already way too long. Plus, I have to go terrorize the downtrodden.