Korean Wedding and Buddha's Birthday

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May 15th 2009
Published: May 15th 2009
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Traditional Korean WeddingTraditional Korean WeddingTraditional Korean Wedding

Miseon's best friend actually took these pictures for me because I was too scared to take them myself. I felt so out of place.
Sorry it's been so long since I wrote in here. I actually typed up a really nice long entry about three weeks ago... I was typing, and typing and the screen kept saying auto-saving, auto-saving... well, after my computer crashed,I discovered that it had definitely not been auto-saving. I keep finding out the hard way that I need to save everything manually and in like 8 different places when typing something online.

Anyway, I started this entry again almost 2 weeks ago because I was real fired up after coming back from the trip to Donghwasa Temple. I uploaded the pictures but was too lazy to write anything so I never posted it. Anyway, today was sports day/teachers day at my school (I'll make a second post for that after I finish this one) and after the sports events in the morning, we ate lunch and were pretty much done for the day by 1pm. Unfortunately, my contract states that even if I am doing nothing, I must stay at the school til 4:30. However, my my vice principal must have noticed that I was on the brink of falling asleep and since all of the other teachers were leaving, he told me to sign out and go home. I wasn't going to argue with him.

So, I figured with my extra time I will finally sit down and do some updating.

The first pictures are from Miseon's wedding. She is a Korean language teacher at my school and her desk is right beside mine in the teacher's office (she is the long term substitute for the woman who was teaching at the beginning of the school year, Sohui. Sohui was only in school for about two weeks before she left on maternity leave.) Miseon is super, super nice and through the use of pictures, online Korean to English dictionaries, gestures, and other English teachers translating things we have gotten pretty darn good at communicating. When she first told me that she was getting married in April and that my boyfriend and I were invited I had thought she had used a word incorrectly. It wasn't until I got a wedding invitation several weeks later that I realized there had not been a mistake. So, Mike and I dressed up and traveled across the city. Bus to bus to subway, met my co-teacher Katie at the subway exit and discovered the wedding hall was right outside of the exit! Lucky for us!

Since Miseon and her husband are Christian, they first had a Christian ceremony (what we think of as a wedding in the states) and then they had a traditional Korean wedding. There were a lot of differences between the American christian weddings that I have been to and this christian wedding. First, the wedding was not held in a church, and it seems that this is pretty much the norm here. Instead, there are these huge wedding buildings. Her wedding was on the 3rd floor and as we took the escalator up to the top we could see that on the second floor there was a wedding hall on both the left and the right. The third floor was set up the same way and I imagine the other floors were the same as well.

We got off the escalator and went over to the check-in table. It is not common to give gifts to the bride and groom unless you are a very close friend or relative. Instead, you simply put money in an envelope (no card), lick it shut and write your
Miseon's WeddingMiseon's WeddingMiseon's Wedding

This is the little booth thing that the bride (Miseon) was sitting in before the wedding. It's me, her, Katie (one of my co-teachers) and another teacher from my school. :)
name on the front of it. So when you get to the wedding, you go to the check-in table and hand them your envelope. In return, they hand you a ticket for lunch (there is no reception). We had not even checked in properly before I heard my name followed by "come! Miseon!" I was ushered over to where Miseon was sitting inside this little booth thing outside of the ceremony hall. I went in with two other teachers from my school and we had our picture taken with the bride.

When the ceremony started the lights dimmed and bride and groom entered from the back of the room together to the tune of here comes the bride. When they got to the alter they first went left and then right to bow to both sets of their parents. The ceremony was conducted in Korean so I no idea what anyone said, but when they started singing, the songs were clearly the same christian songs, just with Korean words. One thing that kind of shocked me though was how people talked and moved around during the ceremony. For example, there was an old guy a few rows in front
Donghwasa Temple Lantern LightingDonghwasa Temple Lantern LightingDonghwasa Temple Lantern Lighting

We were sitting along the side of this when out of no where the lights finally came on! It was soo pretty!
of us and he was having a good old time catching up with lost friends, talking and walking around. We saw at least one person on their cell phone and there was a ton of noise coming in from outside of the hall. No one really seemed to think it was rude.

As I said, there is no reception, so after the bride and groom said I do, the lights dimmed again and they walked over to the right where their wedding cake was sitting and cut it. No one ate any of it, but it was cut. Then two different groups of people came to the front and sang to them. I really liked this. Afterward they made their way to the back of the hall and then came back to the front again for full family photos. I also liked that. It wasn't just mom and dad, it was everyone. Ohh which reminds me, there were no bridesmaids or groomsmen.

After the christian ceremony, I really wanted to see the traditional ceremony. Since we didn't know where we were going and since we couldn't understand anything anyone was saying... we hung around and then followed the
Here comes the bride!Here comes the bride!Here comes the bride!

The bride and groom entered the from the back of the church together. Once they got to the front they bowed to each of their parents who were seated off to the side of the alter.
father of the groom (several feet behind and undetected of course :P) down to the second floor where the rooms were set up for the traditional Korean wedding. There I got to meet Miseon's brother and sister as well as her best friend. They were equally as likable as her and they were very kind to us. However, I still felt really out of place at the traditional ceremony. We were offered the candy that you eat to the couple's health (one of the hardest things I've ever eaten in my life) and when I asked Miseon's best friend if it was okay if I took a picture, she offered to go and take a picture for me.

After the traditional ceremony, we followed her family over to the lunch room (and I'm glad we did because we never would have found it on our own...it was actually in a different building :P ) haha. We ate some Korean grub, said goodbye to the happy couple and then made our way back across the city. By the time we got downtown, we marveled at how much easier it has become to navigate the city. Our first week here, we were angry, frustrated, and tired after a trip like that but this time it seemed so smooth.

Hahah! I almost forgot. On our way to the wedding we got on the subway and shortly after us, a woman in a very bright colored coat got on. She was a very friendly woman and only knew a little English but she was very determined to make conversation with us. She got off the subway and we bid her farewell. You can only imagine our surprise, when on the way home from the wedding, the subway doors open up and that same woman walks into the same car as us again. She was once again very excited to see us and actually offered me a pair of purple exercise pants. I didn't feel comfortable taking pants from a woman I didn't know (I didn't deserve a gift from her) so I tried to politely refuse. She seemed really upset when I did not take her present. I felt bad but at the same time I still couldn't bring myself to be okay with it.

The other pictures are from the Lantern Festival at Donghwasa Temple on Buddha's Birthday (May 2nd).
Miseon's WeddingMiseon's WeddingMiseon's Wedding

Miseon hugging her new mother in-law and her husband hugging his new mother in-law.
We went there with a Korean friend of mine, a friend of hers and two Canadians. The weather that day was actually downright miserable. We had no sooner gotten off of our first bus and were waiting for the second one when the skies opened up and it started pouring. Although this was clearly not ideal weather for a festival of any sort, once we started walking around the temple area the weather actually made the experience that much better. As it got later in the day, the rain stopped, and what was left was a misty fog coming off of the mountains. Standing outside of the largest temple, with monks chatting inside, and the fog rising off of the mountains oooh! It was great!

Later in the evening they lit all of the lanterns that had been hung up around the temple! It was really beautiful. I was really glad that we got the chance to go!

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


After the traditional ceremony.After the traditional ceremony.
After the traditional ceremony.

Miseon and her husband making their way out of the building.
Emergnecy FlashlightsEmergnecy Flashlights
Emergnecy Flashlights

I took this picture on the way back from the wedding. This is some kind of emergency thing in the subway. For whatever reason, it was funny to me. I was thinking, I hope nothing bad happens... I can't read this thing. Although Mike later pointed out that he thinks they're just flashlights.. oh well. :P hah
Donghwasa Temple LanternsDonghwasa Temple Lanterns
Donghwasa Temple Lanterns

The tags hanging from the lanterns contain peoples wishes.
Donghwasa TempleDonghwasa Temple
Donghwasa Temple

I think this picture has a Monet like effect to it. It's a little blurry but I still like it so I will call it impressionistic photography.
Make a wish!Make a wish!
Make a wish!

Just like at home where people toss pennies into ponds and things to make wishes, here there was a circle in the stream and you wanted to make a wish and try to get your coin into the circle. Mike's coin made it, mine wasn't even close :P
Mike investigating.Mike investigating.
Mike investigating.

He actually took some really nice photographs of the inside.. I need to steal them from him to post them. :)
Donghwasa Temple MistDonghwasa Temple Mist
Donghwasa Temple Mist

It was a yucky rainy day and we were really bitter about it until we got to the large temple and realized how wonderfully mystical the fog made the mountains look. Combine this with the chanting coming from the inside of this temple and the sight of people praying to Buddha.
Lantern FestivalLantern Festival
Lantern Festival

This is from Buddha's Birthday Lantern Festival at Donghwasa Temple. You can see the ladles in the fountain. People would go up to the fountain and take a drink with the ladle and make a wish.

15th May 2009

Wow both weddings are beautiful and the temple is too!!! I'm glad you're enjoying it!! Poor little lady with the pants...

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