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Bear with me, guys, as I’m trying very hard to get back into the practice of daily writing. The topics are going to seem a little all over the map for a while, but I hope there’s at least still something of interest in it for you all. I’m trying to figure out exactly where I want to head in the future, and for the moment, that’s going to mean doing two things repeatedly, whether I want to or not: Following my gut and just doing the damn thing.
I was in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago before work, wrapping the chicken caesar wrap I had made for lunch at the shop in aluminum foil, when I realized I was almost out of foil and needed to buy a new roll. A memory came flooding back to me then that made me laugh out loud. I’ve been thinking about that memory on and off since, and this little ditty is the result. Hope you enjoy.
Shortly after I started kindergarten, my family and I were sitting around the table in the dining room having dinner when the phone rang. My father got up and answered it. He looked, at first, confused, and then perturbed. “Well, we are in the middle of dinner right now, but I will have her call you back. Okay. Bye.”
My mother, being the only “her” in the household besides me, and the only adult in the household besides my father, naturally assumed the phone call was for her. When my father returned to the table, she asked who it was. “We need to talk. It wasn’t for you.” He then turned to me. “Who is Lee and why is he calling you?”
I sensed trouble, but wasn’t exactly sure what the cause of it was, so I proceeded with caution in my answering. Lee was my friend, and I couldn’t be sure why he was calling me, but probably to talk?
“You gave him our phone number?”
You know it’s trouble for sure when your parents start asking you questions you know they already know the answers to, but I took comfort in the fact that my mother seemed to be holding back laughter on the other side of the table.
“Yes? Was I not supposed to?”
“And Lee is a little boy.”
“Yes. He’s in my class.”
“And he’s your friend.”
“You don’t have little boy friends and you don’t need to be giving boys your phone number.”
I was crushed by this. I had been having a difficult time adjusting to attending school. I had taken like a fish to water to the studying parts, but I was struggling socially. I felt like I had been faced with an overwhelming number of strangers and, as I was painfully shy, I couldn’t figure out how to break in. Everyone else seemed to just find their people, and I didn’t know how to do that. But Lee had come right up to me and made everything feel easy.
Eventually, I think probably thanks to conversations with my mother that happened out of my earshot, my father relented, and I was allowed to stay friends with Lee. We even ended up carpooling to school, since it turned out he lived just a few blocks over. Lee eventually moved away, and I made other friends, though I wasn’t as close to any of them as I was to Lee, until second grade rolled around and I met Zach.
It was at the end of the school day, and I was walking down the hallway to go meet my mother out front, when I dropped my 64-pack of crayons and they spilled all across the hallway floor. I was bent down on one knee gathering them up, and suddenly there was Zach, with his red hair and freckles, helping me. He followed me out to the front, talking nonstop the whole way, and before I left, he asked me what class I was in. I told him, and every day after that, when the final bell rang, there was Zach, waiting outside my classroom door to walk me to the car.
Eventually we worked out that he also lived only a couple of blocks away, and after that, he would meet me at my house after school. We would ride bikes and play with the other neighborhood kids. He started coming with us on Saturday childhood outings. And, yes, eventually I did give him my phone number. We were allowed to play in my room but, bizarrely to me, only with the door open. He talked — a lot — and this was comforting for me, because I didn’t know how to talk that much. He, much like Lee, helped to draw me out of my shell.
One evening, after Zach had stayed for dinner and then eventually gone home, my father suddenly announced, “That boy is here too much.” I felt a familiar sinking in my stomach.
Luckily for my father, the situation soon resolved itself. One day, while we were playing in my room after school, with the door open, Zach pointed to the window and shouted, “Oh, my God! Look at that!” I turned my head to look and he kissed me. I don’t remember exactly how I reacted. I think I just asked him why he had done that, and he shrugged. What I know for sure is that I moved past it as if it were some kind of bizarre momentary insanity and tried to forget all about it. But a few days later, when I was walking him to the end of the block on his way home, he asked if he could kiss me again. I said no. I only saw him a few more times after that.
Even my mother started to worry when third grade rolled around, and I immediately took up with yet another boy, Ryan. Ryan, who constantly got in trouble for talking during class, who was thrilled to wind up with a row of C’s on his report card. Who once, misunderstanding the point of a class recycling project, came to school with an entire unopened roll of tin foil, beaming with pride about his contribution.
Ryan was the first boy who didn’t pick me. I picked him, and even the teachers seemed to be worried about this association. They spoke to my mother on parents’ days about how concerning it was that I, as a straight-A student who never got in trouble, seemed to be clinging so completely to a … questionable student, such as Ryan. And on top of everything else, of course, he was a boy. And I seemed to be making no effort to make any friends with the girls in the class. I wasn’t making any efforts to make friends with the other boys in the class, either, but that didn’t seem worth mentioning.
There was little my parents could do about Ryan, however, as he didn’t live in our neighborhood, so my time with him was limited to school hours and therefore outside of their jurisdiction. They were somewhat dismayed to find that the following year, in fourth grade, we were yet again placed in the same class. The teachers tried to do their part by not allowing us to sit together. But we still found our way to each other during lunchtime and recess and during any partner activities or group projects.
By this point, the situation had become serious. I had begun to fight back against my mother’s attempts to braid and curl my hair, wearing it instead in a simple ponytail. I was refusing to wear dresses, or anything pink or purple, opting instead for sportswear, which was more conducive to the soccer matches Ryan and I would play together during recess. My parents’ concern shifted from worry over the potential promiscuity of their elementary-aged daughter to something far worse. What if I wasn’t befriending all of these boys because I liked them like that? What if I was befriending them because I didn’t like boys like that at all?
I don’t remember this being articulated to me, exactly, but I picked up on it all the same. Even at that young age, I caught a whiff of hypocrisy in the way that they didn’t want me to attract boys’ attention, but wanted me in some way, it seemed, to want to be attractive to it. I would sit through lecture after lecture about not wanting to look “nice”, meanwhile my brother was off to school in more or less exactly the same clothes I wanted to wear with nary an eyelash batted.
I made straight As. I was placed in the advanced program at school. I never turned in an assignment late. I was never in trouble with my teachers. Wasn’t this enough? What could I possibly be doing to cause so much distress? I wasn’t allowing Ryan to “take me down with him”, as the teachers had expressed concern about. I couldn’t understand what all this fuss was about boys and girls and clothes and hair and phone numbers and open bedroom doors.
The irony of it all was that Ryan was the first boy that I had picked instead of letting him pick me. I still didn’t want to be kissed, not even by him, but I wanted to be near him all the time. I admired the way he could get scolded by the teacher — something that would have absolutely devastated me — and just shrug his shoulders and smile. How, when the whole class laughed at him for bringing in a brand new roll of tin foil for the recycling project, after the teacher explained to him that the point of recycling was to gather used materials, he simply turned to the room full of students, broke into a wide grin and took a bow, genuinely pleased to have entertained them, even at his own expense.
I liked that a boy like him should have wanted to spend all his time with other boys, but he figured I was just as good as any one of them, if not better. That he stood up for me when other boys didn’t want to play soccer with a girl, telling them that I was probably a better player than all of them combined, and they were probably just afraid I would beat them. That all the other girls in the class — both years — tried to get close to him, but I was the only one who succeeded.
I loved him in a way that was brand new to me. In a way that would have set my parents’ minds at ease on the one hand, and caused them to panic all over again on the other. There was no winning.
Ryan was important to me for other reasons, too. My third grade year, something had begun to go wrong at home. I couldn’t understand all of it, but I know that my mother came flying out of the back bedroom after a screaming fight with my father one Sunday afternoon and shouted at us kids to follow her out of the house. My father came shuffling after her, telling her to stop overreacting.
We walked around the block to a neighbor’s house with my father driving alongside us in the car, shouting at my mother to get in and stop embarrassing him and causing a scene. Tears were streaming down my mother’s face, and she was furious. Inside the neighbor’s house, we were sent to a bedroom in the back while our mother made phone calls in the kitchen.
Shortly thereafter, it was announced that my mother would be getting a job and attending night classes at a community college. That I, as the only other female in the house, would be taking over most of the household duties.
After the teacher spoke to my mother about Ryan, and after a few strange and vivid nightmares, I was deposited onto a counselor’s sofa for a few weeks in a row. Apparently, there was concern that the trouble at home was causing me to act out. I didn’t know how to explain that whatever was going on at home made my time with Ryan sweeter, and my time with Ryan was helping me to realize that I didn’t like being a girl in the way that my parents wanted me to — that the chores at home were helping me to realize that I didn’t want to be a girl in the way that my parents wanted me to — but that I would have chosen Ryan regardless. And the clothes, as well.
Ryan, it was explained to my mother, was troubled in part because he was the product of a single parent household. My parents were going to work it out. None of this felt right to me. There was nothing wrong with Ryan, and there was nothing wrong with me. Ryan knew that there was nothing wrong with me, and I knew that there was nothing wrong with him.
The next year, in the fifth grade, I would move up to intermediate school, and because Ryan and I didn’t live near enough to each other, we would end up being, finally, separated, as he graduated into a different school closer to his neighborhood. That year was profoundly lonely for me, not only because I had lost my best friend, but because the trouble at home had only gotten worse, and my girl body had begun to betray me in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined.
There was the training bra that was — humiliatingly — covered in tiny pink flowers. There was the last pool party of the summer that was ruined by the arrival of this truly ghastly, inhumane nightmare called a period, which I was taught at church was part of my punishment for Eve talking Adam into eating the apple. There was my mother telling me that, suddenly, the hair that grew naturally all over my legs was unsightly and unacceptable, and telling me that every week from then on, I’d have to spend up to an hour in the bathroom struggling to remove every speck of it.
There was the Saturday morning when my father walked out of the bedroom to find me in the hallway in my pajamas, walked back in and spoke to my mother in hushed tones, who then came out to tell me that I needed to get fully dressed from now on before I left my bedroom in the mornings.
I began to realize that the world was going to conspire to make me a girl in that way, whether I liked it or not. That there were, after all, some things that were very wrong with me, not because of any choices I had made, but just because I was born into this body. I needed to hide so much about myself to be fit for the outside world. I was dirty, unsightly, inappropriate by nature. And I didn’t have a say in any of this.
And then there were the contradictions. Liking boys too much was a problem, as was not liking them enough. Showing too much of my body was a problem, but drowning it in athletic clothing and sweats was an even bigger one. Not caring about how I looked told the world I was an undisciplined slob, but caring too much would mean I was shallow and vain.
It was like my body, which up until that point had been nothing more than a tool for experiencing and moving me through the world, had become the sum total of me. And everything about it was wrong. And there was no clear answer on how to fix it.
I missed Ryan profoundly, not only for who he had been to me, but also for how he had seen me. He hadn’t cared one way or the other that I was a girl, and he hadn’t stood for anyone else caring either. He hadn’t thought the ways that I was a girl were wrong, or that being a girl made me any different from the boys. He knew that I was a girl, existed in a girl’s body, but above and beyond that, he knew that I was me, the person who lived inside that body, and that the body was merely coincidental. And I realized, finally, how rare an experience that would be. I think, in some ways, I’ve been chasing it ever since.—
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.
One block up from the beach
I can help mediate between you and landlord
Indoor parking available
MOVE IN DATE
November 1st, 2022 (or earlier)
I'm opening a business elsewhere and must move closer
Otherwise I would've stayed
I'm a bit messy but this is the layout
Everything you see was purchased within the year
You can come check it out, keep it the way it is or I will have it removed
My dog never goes inside. Hence no smells, stains, etc.20221004_132626.jpg
Sinwonsa Temple is located in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. More specifically, Sinwonsa Temple is one of three major temples located in Gyeryongsan National Park alongside Donghaksa Temple and Gapsa Temple. Sinwonsa Temple is situated in the western part of the park. Sinwonsa Temple was first established in 651 A.D. by the monk Bodeok-hwasang, who was also the founder of Yeolban-jong (The Nirvana Sect).
Eventually, the temple was left in disrepair and eventually rebuilt by Doseon-guksa (826-898 A.D.) at the end of Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). The temple was later rebuilt in 1298; and then again in 1393 by the monk Muhak-daesa (1327-1405). After this rebuild, the temple was destroyed in 1592 during the Imjin War (1592-1598). The temple was later rebuilt and moved slightly to the northwest from its former location. Eventually, the temple would be renovated in 1876 led by the monk Gaeyeon-hwasang. And in 1885, the temple was repaired and renovated, once more, this time by Sim Sanghun, who was a government official. He did this to help quell any troubles the country was going through. Interestingly, it was also at this time that Sim Sanghun changed the Chinese characters of the temple name. Originally, Sinwonsa Temple meant “Spirit Garden Temple” in English. It was changed at this time to mean “New Era Temple” in English, instead.
More recently, and over the past few decades, Sinwonsa Temple has undergone numerous changes and additions like the casting of the large Brahma Bell in 1982, the rebuilding of the five-story pagoda in 1988, and the addition of the Cheonwangmun Gate in 1998.
Arguably Sinwonsa Temple’s greatest feature is the Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain, which is Korean Treasure #1293. The shrine was first built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) to hold veneration rituals for guardian deities at Mt. Gyeryongsan, which was regarded as a sacred mountain. Mt. Gyeryongsan was one of the major mountains where veneration rituals took place during Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). The mountains were Mt. Myohyangsan, which was known as Sangak (Upper Mountain); Mt. Jirisan in the south, which was known as Haak (Lower Mountain), and Mt. Gyeryongsan, which was known as Jungak (Middle Mountain) during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
It’s believed that the first veneration ritual took place in 1394 at Mt. Gyeryongsan after Muhak-daesa said that a Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) visited him in a dream. The altar in this mountain was closed in 1651. Then in 1879, the altar was restored at the behest of Queen Myeongseong (1851-1895), who named it Jungakdan. The hanging tablet for the shrine was written by Yi Jung-Ha (1846-1917), who was a high-ranking official. And inside the main shrine hall of Jungakdan, you’ll find a wooden altar with a memorial tablet and a painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) on it.
In total, Sinwonsa Temple is home to one Korean Treasure: the already mentioned Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain. The temple is also home to a National Treasure, the Hanging Painting of Sinwonsa Temple (Rocana Buddha), which is National Treasure #299.
Admission to Sinwonsa Temple is Admission 3,000 won for adults, 1,300 won for teens, 700 won for children, and children under 6 are free.Temple Layout
As you first approach the temple grounds, you’ll first be greeted by the Cheonwangmun Gate. Housed inside this entry gate are four modern images of the Four Heavenly Kings that are smaller in appearance.
Slightly to the left, and up another pathway, you’ll pass by the Beomjong-gak Pavilion at Sinwonsa Temple. This open-designed bell pavilion houses the large bronze bell cast in 1982. And it’s beyond this bell pavilion to your left that you’ll next encounter a five-story pagoda. This pagoda stands out in front of the Daeung-jeon Hall. Rather interestingly, a set of eight murals depicting the Shimu-do (Ox-Herding Murals) surround the exterior walls of the main hall. What’s unique about this is twofold: first, there are only eight murals, which was the original number in the set before it was expanded to ten. The other interesting feature is that you find the ox-herder pointing upwards in the seventh painting in the set reminiscent of the baby Buddha pointing upwards at his birth.
As for the interior, the Daeung-jeon Hall is rather modest with a triad resting on the main altar. In the centre sits a statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who is joined on either side by statues dedicated to Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) and Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). On the far left wall, you’ll find a Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) joined by a replica of the much larger National Treasure at Sinwonsa Temple, the Hanging Painting of Sinwonsa Temple (Rocana Buddha). And to the right of the main altar are a collection of three murals dedicated to Korean monks. The first on the left is dedicated to Doseon-guksa, while the central image is dedicated to Bodeok-hwasang, while the right mural is dedicated to Muhak-daesa.
To the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Nosana-jeon Hall. Housed inside this shrine hall is a large, modern replica of the temple’s National Treasure, the Hanging Painting of Sinwonsa Temple (Rocana Buddha). Joining this large Gwaebul (Large Buddhist Banner Painting) inside the Nosana-jeon Hall is a beautiful Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).
As for the historic Hanging Painting of Sinwonsa Temple (Rocana Buddha), it was first produced in 1644. In the massive painting, which is 11.18 metres long and 6.88 metres wide, it depicts Nosana-bul preaching the truth to the crowd of devotees alone. Joining this central image are ten additional Bodhisattvas in the Gwaebul, as well as the Four Heavenly Kings on both sides of the central Buddha and Bodhisattvas. In the crown of Nosana-bul, you’ll find the image of Seokgamoni-bul with his fingers pointing downwards. The clothes of Nosana-bul are green, red, and pink. Overall, the Gwaebul has a delicate and pleasing overall appearance that expresses itself through various colours.
To the rear of the Nosana-jeon Hall is the Dokseong-gak Hall. As the name of the temple shrine hall hints at, it’s dedicated to the shaman deity Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). Also joining this older mural dedicated to Dokseong is an equally older mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Both beautifully compliment the other in their older overall aesthetic.
And to the right of the Daeung-jeon Hall, on the other hand, is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with beautiful paintings including an all-white image dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), a Taoist image of two youthful dongja (attendants) carrying a giant peach (a symbol of immortality), and a pair of dongja. One of these dongja is holding up a lotus flower like an umbrella, while the other partially ignores the first almost like the Bodhidharma. As for the interior of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, you’ll find a solitary image of the Bodhisattva on the main altar. This central image is then joined by hundreds of smaller images of Gwanseeum-bosal.
And out in front of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall is the Yeongwon-jeon Hall. This hall is surrounded by beautiful images around its exterior walls. On the backside, and in the centre, is another all-white image dedicated to Jijang-bosal. To the left of this image is a monk-like Dokseong image that’s actually Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) with his tiger. And to the right of the central image of Gwanseeum-bosal is that of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).
To the right of the main temple courtyard, and as though it’s purposely separated from the rest of the temple shrine hall and grounds, is the previously mentioned Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain. The earthen walls are adorned with beautiful tile designs. You’ll step through the Daemun-ganchae to gain entry to the outer precinct at the shrine. Next, you’ll need to pass through the Jungmun-ganchae, which are beautifully adorned with a pair of faded guardians on these entry gate doors, to gain entry to the inner sanctum of the shrine. This 19th century shrine is simplistically adorned around its exterior walls. Stepping inside the Jungakdan Shrine, you’ll notice arguably Korea’s most recognizable Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural adorning the main altar with a quizzical tiger looking upwards at the magpie that’s perched peacefully on the tree branch overhead of the tiger. This image is then fronted by a pair of paintings dedicated to King Gojong of Joseon (King Gojong r. 1863-1897; Emperor of Korea, r. 1897-1910) and Queen Myeongseong (1851-1895).
Rather interestingly, you can find a five-story pagoda in the temple parking lot near the Jungakdan Shrine. What’s interesting about this, and was hinted at before, this five-story pagoda used to stand in the centre of the former main temple courtyard at Sinwonsa Temple. And while the temple was moved slightly to the northwest after its destruction after the Imjin War (1592-1598), the five-story pagoda remained in place. While damaged and missing both the fifth story and the finial, the pagoda is a beautiful example of Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) artistry. The five-story pagoda is Chungcheongnam-do Tangible Cultural Heritage #31.How To Get There
From the Gongju Train Station, you’ll need to take either Bus #205 or Bus #206 to get to Sinwonsa Temple. The bus ride will last around 38 minutes over 24 stops. You’ll need to get off at the Sinwonsa Temple bus stop and then walk 7 minutes, or 500 metres, to get to the temple.Overall Rating: 8/10
Obviously the main highlight to Sinwonsa Temple is the Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain. Both the architecture of the structure, as well as the painting of Sanshin inside, are the finest examples of the Mountain Spirit in all of Korea. Take your time when you’re at the Jungakdan because you won’t see anything else like it. In addition to the Jungakdan Shrine, the original Hanging Painting of Sinwonsa Temple (Rocana Buddha), the artwork inside the Dokseong-gak Hall, the Shimu-do surrounding the Daeung-jeon Hall, as well as the artwork surrounding the Gwaneum-jeon Hall are all superb and second-to-none in their artistry. Overall, Sinwonsa Temple is a peaceful site for visitors to relax and explore.One of the Four Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate. The Goryeo Dynasty five-story pagoda in the temple parking lot. The Beomjong-gak Pavilion with the 1982 Brahma Bell inside. The five-story pagoda that fronts the Daeung-jeon Hall at Sinwonsa Temple. The Buddha-like image of the Ox-Herder that adorns the exterior wall of the Daeung-jeon Hall. The newly painted Nosana-bul (The Perfect Body Buddha) Gwaebul inside the Nosana-jeon Hall. And the historic Hanging Painting of Sinwonsa Temple (Rocana Buddha), which is National Treasure #299. (Picture courtesy of the CHA). The older image of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) inside the Dokseong-gak Hall. Who is joined by this equally older image dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars) inside the Dokseong-gak Hall. The image of Gwanseeum-bosal (top) and the Taoist painting (bottom) that both adorn the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. The Dokseong-looking image of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that adorns the backside of the Yeongwon-jeon Hall. The entryway to the Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain. One of the guardians that adorns the door to the entryway of the Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain. The Jungakdan Hall. The signboard above the entryway. The painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside the Jungakdan Shrine in Gyeryongsan Mountain. (Picture courtesy of this blog). —
I often get asked how much Korean a person should be studying every day in order to learn Korean effectively.
The answer isn't so simple, since it depends on each person's situation and their goals.
In this episode I talk about how much I'd recommend, as well as some more and less effective study methods.
The post How much Korean should you study every day? | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.—
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In this article, you can find all of the most common and useful Korean greetings, which will help you get started in using Korean faster. After all, many of these are Korean phrases you’ll use in your very first conversation in Korean!
Even if you have no intention of becoming fluent in the Korean language, learning different greetings and other basic dialogue will be of tremendous help during your travels.Why is it important to learn Korean greetings?
If you have been exploring our lessons for some time now, you may have already come across multiple greetings. Learning Korean greetings is one of the first things you will learn in any language. And it’s also one of the most important aspects of learning a language if you want to be able to communicate properly, starting from a basic level.
No matter how fun traveling can be, it can be quite daunting to visit a new country, especially if you are hearing an entirely unfamiliar and new language. It’s not always a guarantee that native Korean speakers you interact with can speak enough English, and especially the street signs may feel like confusing blabber to you.
Unfortunately, we cannot translate those street signs for you right now, but we can ease your arrival in South Korea a little bit with these greetings in Korean.What are Korean Greetings?
Just like in your mother tongue, greetings in Korean are also simple ways to start learning and initiate conversations with both strangers and familiar faces. They can be used in shops and restaurants, and other similar establishments.
They can be used with friends and family, and they can be used when meeting someone new. Some of them are useful for any scenario, while others may be perfect to use in a certain situation.
By greeting a person in Korean, you can not only impress them but also make them feel more at ease. Even if you switch the potential conversation to English right after, knowing how to greet a person in the Korean language is a great show of respect and appreciation towards them.Common Korean Greetings
Below, you can find all the basic Korean greetings that will be useful to you when you visit South Korea. We’ve included how they’re written in Korean along with the romanization to help you read them easily.
However, we encourage our learners to focus on learning Korean characters as much as possible and not rely on romanization for Korean pronunciation. This will help you accurately learn the proper pronunciation, which is more helpful in the long run. We’ve included the standard, formal and informal ways of saying them. Let’s start!“Hello” in Korean
Depending on the level of formality required in the situation, there are three ways you can greet someone with “hello” in the Korean language: 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka), 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo), and 안녕 (annyeong).Standard “hello” in Korean
안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) is the standard version for hello in Korean. It’s undoubtedly the most common way to say “hello,” as it is applicable to nearly any situation. Thus, it’s also likely to be the very first word you’ll be taught in a Korean class.
You can use 안녕하세요 whenever you walk into a store, when greeting your teacher, or when meeting with someone you know but may not be that close with. You actually can also use this when greeting an unfamiliar person, too, in most cases.Formal “hello” in Korean
안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka), on the other hand, is the most formal version. You can hear this being used in announcements and speeches, for example. It is also quite often used in Korean news.
This is a great way to say “hello” on your very first meeting with someone and want to show extra respect to them. Especially if the new person is someone who is much older than you or has a higher level of authority, 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka) should be used.
For example, if you are about to meet your friend’s parents for the first time, you would want to greet them with 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka).Informal “hello” in Korean
Finally, there’s also the casual hello: 안녕 (annyeong). If you are greeting someone who is younger than you or is a close friend, you can drop the formalities and simply say 안녕 (annyeong).
However, you may want to refrain from using casual/informal speech on more formal occasions or around older people in Korea. You can think of 안녕 (annyeong) as a way to say “hi” in Korean.“Hello” in Korean for phone calls
If you need to say “hello” over the phone when answering a call, you can use the phrase 여보세요 (yeoboseyo) instead.
You can learn more about this by reading our article dedicated to “Hello” in Korean.“Good Morning” in Korean
There are various ways to say “good morning” to someone, depending on who you are speaking with.Standard “good morning” in Korean
One way to say “Good Morning” in Korean is 좋은아침이에요 (joeunachimieyo). This is the standard way of speaking and is thus appropriate to use in most situations, except when a higher degree of formality is expected. Its literal translation is, “The morning is good.”
Additionally, you can also greet someone in the morning by asking 잘 잤어요? (jal jasseoyo?). This is the Korean equivalent of “Did you sleep well?” and is an incredibly common way for local people in Korea to greet each other in the morning time.Formal “good morning” in Korean
However, sometimes you may need to be more formal when greeting someone in the morning. In this case, you can ask them if they’ve slept well by saying either 잘 주무셨어요? (jal jumusyeosseoyo) or 안녕히 주무셨어요? (annyeonghi jumusyeosseoyo). They both essentially have the same meaning.
Although in the latter’s case, the implication is more on asking whether someone slept peacefully rather than well. Alternatively, you can also use 좋은 아침th입니다 (joeun achimimnida) in a formal speech in the morning hours.Informal “good morning” in Korean
Finally, it is also possible to greet someone with “good morning” in an informal way. If you are greeting a close friend, you can get casual and say 잘 잤어? (jal jasseo) or 좋은 아침 (joeun achim).
You can learn more about this greeting by reading our article dedicated to “Good Morning” in Korean. If you’d like to say “good night” instead, we also have a separate article for “good night” in the Korean language here.“Welcome” in Korean
There are multiple ways to welcome someone in Korean, for example, when they are visiting your home.Standard “Welcome” in Korean
You can typically say 어서 오세요 (eoseo oseyo). This is the standard form for saying welcome in Korean, applicable in many different situations.Formal “Welcome” in Korean
If the situation is more formal, such as if you are arriving for a job interview, the proper phrase used is 어서 오십시오 (eoseo osipsio). As you can see, it uses a more formal grammar pattern for speaking.Informal “Welcome” in Korean
Also, if you are greeting a close friend or a much younger person in a casual way, you can simply use 어서 와 (eoseo wa). It is the informal version of “welcome,” perfect to use when you are closely bonded with someone.Uncommon way to say “welcome in Korean”
You may have also heard of the Korean word 환영하다 (hwanyeonghada) as one that means “welcome.”
It is not incorrect, as this is something that you can find in the dictionary. It is also a word that you’ll be taught in your first Korean class, right alongside 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo). However, this is not actually a common way you’ll hear in use when someone greets you with a “welcome” in Korean.
You can learn more about this by reading our article dedicated to “Welcome” in Korean.“Nice to Meet You” in Korean
Just like with other greetings up until now, there are also three ways to say nice to meet you in Korean: 만나서 반갑습니다 (mannaseo bangapseumnida), 만나서 반가워요 (mannaseo bangawoyo), and 만나서 반가워 (mannaseo bangawo).Standard “Nice to meet you” in Korean
만나서 반가워요 (mannaseo bangawoyo) is the standard way of saying “nice to meet you.”
It’s still under polite speech and can be used in any situation. However, it is recommended to use this mostly in cases where you are speaking to someone of the same age or rank. Otherwise, it’s better to stick to being formal when saying, “nice to meet you.”Formal “Nice to meet you” in Korean
If you want to say “nice to meet you” in a more formal version, you can use the phrase 만나서 반갑습니다 (mannaseo bangapseumnida). This is great to use when meeting someone for the first time, especially if you are in a business setting.
It is also the perfect form to use when addressing a larger group of Koreans or when meeting someone of a higher rank.Informal “Nice to meet you” in Korean
Lastly, 만나서 반가워 (mannaseo bangawo) is the informal way to greet somebody with “nice to meet you.” You will likely only use this in situations where you are talking to children upon meeting them for the first time.
You can learn more about this by reading our article dedicated to “Nice to Meet You” in Korean.“How Are You” in Korean
There are different ways to say “How are you?” in Korean, in different levels of formality, including. If you’d like to learn all the different possible greetings for saying “How are you?” in Korean, we have an article dedicated to How Are You in Korean Directly below, we will introduce you to three possible ones you can get started on using right away.Standard “How are you” in Korean
잘 지냈어요? (jal jinaesseoyo) is the standard way of asking, “How are you?”. Or specifically, whether someone has been living well. As a response, you may get a short “yes” or a longer explanation.
If you want to phrase your question as one that might prompt a more detailed answer, switch 잘 (jal) with the question word for “how,” 어떻게 (eotteoke). You can use this with anyone you are not close to, excluding situations where a higher level of formality is expected.Formal “How are you” in Korean
For a formal question, you may use 잘 지내셨어요? (jal jinaesyeosseoyo). It literally means, “Have you been living well?”. This is also typically answered by a “yes” or “no.” But just like in the standard version, you can replace 잘 (jal) with 어떻게 (eotteoke) if you want a more detailed response.
You can use this question with those of higher status or age than you. However, if you are being asked this question, don’t forget to answer using the standard form of speech rather than formal.Informal “How are you” in Korean
Finally, 잘 지냈어? (jal jinaesseo) is what you can use when speaking at an informal level. You can use this when greeting a close friend you haven’t seen in a while.“Have a Nice Day” in Korean
Here are three ways in which you can say “Have a nice day” in Korean: 좋은 하루 보내십시오 (joeun haru bonaesipsio), 좋은 하루 보내세요 (joeun haru bonaeseyo), and 좋은 하루 보내 (joeun haru bonae).
Although other expressions are used more often than “have a nice day,” you will not be wrong or weird for saying this when greeting someone goodbye.Standard “Have a nice day” in Korean
좋은 하루 보내세요 (joeun haru bonaeseyo) is the standard version of the greeting. You can use this with just about anyone, and the polite -세 (-se) inclusion ensures you are not accidentally sounding rude to someone you are not close to.Formal “Have a nice day” in Korean
좋은 하루 보내십시오 (joeun haru bonaesipsio) is how you say “have a nice day” when being formal. You may say this at the end of a job interview, for example.Informal “Have a nice day” in Korean
좋은 하루 보내 (joeun haru bonae) is said when you want to be casual and informal. You can use it with your close friends, but it can also be appropriate to use with your classmates.
You can learn more about this by reading our article dedicated to “Have a Nice Day” in Korean.“Happy Birthday” in Korean
As with the other greetings, there are three ways to wish someone a Happy Birthday in Korean: 생신을 축하드립니다 (saengsineul chukadeurimnida), 생일 축하해요 (saengil chukahaeyo), and 생일 축하해 (saengil chukahae).Standard “Happy birthday” in Korean
생일 축하해요 (saengil chukahaeyo) is the standard level speech version for the greeting. It can be used in most situations to wish someone a happy birthday.Formal “Happy birthday” in Korean
The informal 생일 축하해 (saengil chukahae) is perfect when you are wishing happy birthday to a close friend or a child.
You can learn more about this by reading our article dedicated to “Happy Birthday” in Korean.“Congratulations” in Korean
There are three ways you can say “congratulations” in Korean: 축하드립니다 (chukadeurimnida), 축하해요 (chukahaeyo), and 축하해 (chukahae).Standard “Congratulations” in Korean
축하해요 (chukahaeyo) is the standard form of speech and can be easily used with almost anyone.Formal “Congratulations” in Korean
축하드립니다 (chukadeurimnida) is used in formal situations, such as with Koreans who are older or of higher rank than you.Informal “Congratulations” in Korean
And 축하해 (chukahae) is the informal way to say “congratulations,” most appropriate to use with close friends.“Long Time No See” in Korean
Here is how you can say “long time no see” in Korean: 오랜만이에요 (oraenmanieyo) and 오랜만이야 (oraenmaniya).Standard “Long time no see” in Korean
There is no formal speech version for this greeting. The standard version 오랜만이에요 (oraenmanieyo) is applicable in most situations.Informal “Long time no see” in Korean
And, of course, you can be informal with your close friends and Koreans younger than you, in which case you would use 오랜만이야 (oraenmaniya).
You can learn more about the greeting by reading our article dedicated to Long Time No See in Korean.“Please Look After Me” in Korean
잘부탁드립니다 (jalbutakdeurimnida) is the way to say “please look after me” in Korean.
This is a Korean greeting that is perhaps quite unique to Korean culture. It can be said at the start of a presentation or after you have introduced yourself in a school or work setting. You may also hear idols and other Korean celebrities say this a lot.
Essentially it can be seen to translate as “please treat me well” or “please be nice to me.”Holiday Greetings used in South Korea
Here you can find greetings specifically fit for situations where you are celebrating some type of a holiday.“Happy New Year” in Korean
You can wish someone “Happy New Year” in Korean by saying 새해 복 많이 받으십시오 (saehae bok mani badeusipsio), 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (saehae bok mani badeuseyo) and 새해 복 많이 받아 (saehae bok mani bada), depending on which level of formality is required.
This can be used both during the global New Year’s night and on Lunar New Year.Standard “Happy New Year” in Korean
새해 복 많이 받으세요 (saehae bok mani badeuseyo) is the standard form for saying Happy New Year. It is appropriate to use in most situations.Formal “Happy New Year” in Korean
새해 복 많이 받으십시오 (saehae bok mani badeusipsio) is the formal way to greet a person with Happy New Year. It is used in greeting cards, but also in formal situations and with people you want to be extremely respectful towards, such as your boss or the elderly.Informal “Happy New Year” in Korean
새해 복 많이 받아 (saehae bok mani bada) is the informal way to greet someone with Happy New Year. You can use it with close friends and those younger than you, such as children.
You can learn more about this by reading our article dedicated to “Happy New Year” in Korean.Korean Lunar New Year greetings
Here are a few greetings which you can use to wish someone to have a happy Lunar New Year’s holiday.
설날 잘 즐기세요! (seollal jal jeulgiseyo!)
Enjoy Lunar New Year!
행복한 설날 보내세요! (haengbokhan seollal bonaeseyo!)
Have a happy Lunar New Year!
설날 휴가 잘 보내세요! (seollal hyuga jal bonaeseyo!)
Have a great Lunar New Year’s holiday!
All of these are standard-level greetings, which are appropriate to use in most situations. You can read more about how to celebrate Korean Lunar New Year in our article dedicated to Korean Lunar New Year.Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) greetings
Here are a few greetings you can use during Chuseok, which is Korean Thanksgiving:
추석 잘 보내세요! (Chuseok jal bonaeseyo!)
Have a Happy Chuseok!
즐거운 한가위 보내세요! (jeulgeoun hangawi bonaeseyo!)
I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
좋은일만 가득하세요! (joeunilman gadeukaseyo!)
I wish you all the best!
즐겁고 행복한 추석 보내시길 바랍니다. (jeulgeopgo haengbokan chuseok bonaesigil baramnida.)
I wish you a happy and enjoyable Chuseok.
가족들과 함께 즐거운 추석 보내세요! (gajokdeulgwa hamkke jeulgeoun chuseok bonaeseyo!)
Have a great Chuseok with your family!
You can read more about how to celebrate Korean thanksgiving in our article dedicated to Chuseok.Korean Christmas greetings
The most basic way in which you can greet someone during the Christmas holidays is saying 메리 크리스마스! (meri keuriseumaseu!). This means wishing someone “Merry Christmas!”. You can also use the following greetings:
휴일 잘 즐기세요! (hyuil jal jeulgiseyo!)
행복한 크리스마스 보내세요! (haengbokhan keuriseumaseu bonaeseyo!)
Have a happy Christmas!
즐거운 성탄절 보내시고 새해 복 많이 받으세요! (jeulgeoun seongtanjeol bonaesigo saehae bok mani badeuseyo!)
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!Korean greeting gestures
Besides verbal greetings, there are some gestures that are also quite important to express when meeting with someone.Korean bow
As you may know, bowing is an important way to greet someone in some cultures, including South Korea. As there are a few different ways to bow, it is crucial to know beforehand what type of bow is expected in each situation. Many of these are accompanied by greeting someone with “hello.”Casual bow
This is how you can greet a colleague or a classmate of a similar rank or with your superior when you are passing them by multiple times over the course of the day. It is barely more than a simple nod and is especially done in places like elevators or public transportation, where there is no room to bow any deeper.Respectful bow
With this bow, you will bow at most 45 degrees. Here you’ll bow starting from your waist, so don’t only use your neck for it. This is a common greeting that can be done in most greeting situations while seeming respectful enough towards the other person.
In stores and at airports, you may see personnel doing this bow with their hands clasped in front of their waist.90 Degree Bow
As the name entails, in this bow, you are bending yourself down all the way to 90 degrees. It is done when you want to be incredibly respectful, as well as show obedience and servitude to the person you are bowing to.Big bows
A big bow is the type of bow where you are kneeling on the floor and bending so that your hands touch the ground or floor in front of you. These types of bows are typically seen during special occasions like Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving, as well as weddings and funerals.
Sometimes they may be done in front of the elderly, when greeting someone after a long time of not seeing them, or when wanting to show more respect or remorse.Korean handshake
While handshakes are not as prevalent in Korean culture as they are in Western societies, they do exist. They are more common with men than they are among women and are mostly done in business settings.
What is notable about Korean handshakes is that both hands are used, with one hand supporting the other forearm, and the grip is typically kept soft and light.Wrap Up
The best thing about these Korean greetings is that they are not difficult to learn. You can use them to speak Korean even if you are otherwise far from being fluent, and with them, you can easily make a Korean person feel really good.
They can also be an excellent starting point in your Korean learning journey. Let us know in the comments if your mother tongue also has similar greetings and what other types of greetings they have!
Perhaps you’d also like to go on to learn more useful Korean phrases next?
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When I was in college, in a small writing program at a an art school in New York, it was around sophomore year that we were sitting in studio and one of my professors said something that would stick with me through the rest of my time there, when thinking about my purpose when it comes to writing, and which continues to resonate with me now. My memory of the actual conversation—including which professor said it—is hazy now, but I believe it was something that a mentor of the professor’s had passed down to them, which had stuck with them as well. The professor said that instead of trying to find your voice as a writer, you should try instead to find your question. That most good writers spent the majority of their writing lives trying to answer a singular question, and that once you found your question, your writing would have new direction.
My question has never been entirely clear to me, which I think has to do with the nature of the question itself. To be most honest, my question can’t be absolutely precise. It has something to do with what we can’t articulate fully—the spaces between people, between language and meaning, the gaps we can never quite close and what falls into them. To state my question with absolute clarity would be to lie about what the question is. But for me, that’s enough of an answer. It’s not a full, clear answer, but it’s the most honest one.
Two years later, while sitting in a one-on-one meeting with another professor, going over my thesis, he looked up from the work we were going over that day after a long pause and said, “You don’t trust absolutes. You don’t like them.” I didn’t respond right away. That exact thought had never occurred to me before, so I took a moment to think it over. No, I said, I guess I don’t. They’re not honest.
When writing poetry, you can get away with not confronting absolutes. You’re not bound by the same rules of other kinds of writing, and that allows you to wedge yourself into the gaps between things, to break language so that you can play in the grey areas. That’s why I like it so much. Poetry is the language behind the language we speak in everyday life, when clarity and efficiency are the priorities. Poetry is speaking in tongues. It’s open for interpretation. It leaves room for gut feelings and hunches, which we all apply to communication all of the time anyway, but often don’t want to admit to, and that, to me, makes it more honest.
That makes the things I want—that I need—to write about now hard for me. I want to tell the truth, always, but the first thing I know about the truth is that it is never absolute. Objectivity is a lie, and the biggest liars you will ever meet are the ones who insist they are being objective, because they are lying even to themselves.
Even facts are subjective, and believing they are not is the easiest way to be manipulated by them. If I tell you, for example, that you are 90 times more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash, that looks pretty bad for cars. You would be pretty sure that planes are safer than cars, based on that indisputable fact. Unless I follow it up by saying that you have a less than 1 percent chance of dying in a car accident. Unless I clarify that you probably spend far more of your time in a car than in a plane, so of course it’s more likely that you would die in one. It’s still a fact, but how it is presented matters. How it is interpreted can vary. Are planes really safer than cars? Or are cars only more likely to kill us because of circumstances that have nothing to do with their safety, like frequency of use?
Parsing through issues like how to present information is one of the biggest jobs a writer has, and one of the biggest responsibilities, especially in the world we find ourselves in today. But what I have to talk about now, going forward, can’t be objective, even slightly. To try to claim that it is—any of it—would be the biggest lie I could tell you. I can’t give you the absolute truth. I don’t have it to give. I can only offer you my truth, and the respect that comes with this lengthy and possibly overly philosophical disclaimer.
I’ve reached a point where I feel like I can no longer discuss my present without explaining my recent past. I am tired of feeling stuck, unable to speak, because I want to protect others, even when they have shown no such instinct toward me. Of feeling bound up by ultimately pointless ethics related to trying to be objective, to include everyone’s perspective. I don’t want to expose anyone. I don’t want to insist that my side of the story is the true one. But I want to tell the truth about what has happened to me, from my point of view.
So keeping in mind what I’ve already said about facts in the previous paragraphs, here are some facts:
Fact: I won’t be returning to the US with my husband. He will be staying in Korea, and we will be divorcing.
Fact: We have been functionally separated since the beginning of 2017. He moved out for about two years, but circumstances that I will explain in detail at some point resulted in us moving back in together near the end of 2018. We still live together today, but we are not together and have not been since 2017.
His perspective about that is different, and varies from day to day. Some days, we are still together and never stopped being together. Other days, we got back together at the end of 2018, but he understands we are not together now. It basically depends on what point he is trying to make at any given time. Regardless, since you need two people to consent to be in a relationship, and I have not consented to being in a relationship with him since early 2017, I can still state it as a fact that we have not been together since then. Since we have continued to live together, however, and communicate, some of the events I am about to discuss happened post 2017, in the period when we were no longer officially together.
Fact: He cheated on multiple occasions with sex workers, threatened to kill me on multiple occasions, going so far as to come at me with a knife on at least three, kicked in a locked door to get to me, has thrown countless objects at me including most devastatingly my laptop, has pulled his fist back to threaten to hit me too many times to count but only actually followed through once.
Fact: I believe the only reason he didn’t hit me more was because I stood my ground. I explained to him in no uncertain terms that it was not going to be a beating, that it was going to be a fight, and I believe that he backed down only because he wasn’t sure he could best me if I fought back.
Fact: He has physically prevented me from leaving the house on multiple occasions, for hours on end, when I attempted to leave to get away from him during or after one of these episodes. Pure exhaustion often won out in the end, and after falling asleep and waking up the next morning, after the adrenaline and fear of the immediate situation had passed, I would lose sight of the urgency I had felt the night before to escape the situation. I would start to worry more about the practicalities–where I would live, what would happen to the animals, what would happen if I lost my visa and my right to live and work in Korea.This became a favored and effective tactic for keeping me in place.
Fact: I have said many, many, many things to him that overall I am not proud of, but am also not entirely sure I regret or didn’t mean. I have knocked things onto the floor, but never thrown them at him. I initiated physical contact once, to grab his shirt collar and pull him close to speak in his face.
Fact: We have reached a kind of amicable stasis at the present, and I do not believe I am in danger. We live under the same roof. We speak to each other on a daily basis. We still often eat dinner together.
While this may be hard to understand, given the common perception about abusers and the recipients of their abuse, that one is all bad and the other is all good, I don’t feel that our specific circumstances can be simplified quite to that degree. I believe, in fact, that the perception that abusers are monsters and not people is one of the most dangerous narratives people can put forward in an abuse situation. It is the humanness of abusers, and the understanding that they are not monsters, that often keeps victims hanging on to hope. Your abuser doesn’t have to be all or even mostly bad for you to be in danger. They can be humans who are fallible, injured, struggling with their own issues and trying to be better, and you can still need to get out of the situation.
Fact: He was wrong. Fact: What he did was bad. I did not deserve any of it. Fact: I will spend years trying to recover from what he put me through. I don’t know if I ever will. Fact: We cannot stay married.
If you were to ask Busan for his truth, I’m not entirely sure what he would say, but in the past, he has claimed many times that the thing that “makes” him behave in these ways is my strength. I’m too strong, too independent, too opinionated, too self-assured. No man, he has told me many times, can live with a tiger in his house.
My truth is different. My version of events is that Busan has always been happiest with me when I am at my strongest. When I am self-assured, on top of my game, confident, independent, and taking no shit, he showers me with adoration. His love for me shines in his eyes.
It’s the weakness in me he seems to have an issue with. When I need him, when I rely on him, when I am exhausted, vulnerable and most in need of love and support from him, that is when the monster inside the man begins to emerge.
I am not that now. I have worked myself nearly to death over the past several years to rebuild myself and get back to a position of strength. I don’t need him now–not for anything, and I can walk out the door and board a flight back to the US at any point and be just fine without him. And he knows it. And so, for now, I am safe.
But I have been here before and been fool enough to think that it was him who changed, and not me. He hasn’t changed, and he won’t. Which is why I have to go. Even though, now, we can sit and have dinner together. Even though we can chat throughout the day like friends. Even though, at this particular moment, I do not believe I am in any danger. The next time I’m weak, the next time life overwhelms me and I need support from the people I love, it will all come roaring back. I know that. And that’s not a way to live.
I think looking all of that over, it will become clear to many of you who have been wondering why I’ve been so quiet, so cagey, so vague, and so distant over the past few years that I had my reasons, one of them being that I didn’t even know where to start. One of the tactics that abusers deploy to great effect to control their targets is chaos and confusion. They create pandemonium, gaslight so effectively and shift skins so quickly that it can take ages to even get your bearings about you to begin to sort out what is what.
It’s confusing for people on the outside, to whom everything seems so clear cut and simple, how the target can be so confused and conflicted. I knew that simply saying publicly in real time, “Busan hit me,” or “Busan cheated on me,” or “Busan threatened to kill me and came at me with a knife” would only lead to a cacophony of outside voices that would add even more to the chaos.
One of the biggest things that is taken away from you in an abusive, manipulative situation is your ability to trust yourself. I have clung to that ability my entire life. I was born into a gaslighting culture, with a gaslighting religion and the king of all gaslighters as a father. I had to learn how to trust myself to survive. I’ve had to learn, also, to moderate that part of my personality–needing to be full sure that I’m right about things, and being hypersensitive to the possibility that other parties aren’t having an honest discussion, but instead trying to manipulate the facts.
But part of trusting yourself is knowing your limits, and knowing that, in particular, your perspective is limited. Knowing that other people can tell the truth with their whole chest, and it can be completely different from your truth, but still a version of the truth. If you want to have healthy relationships with other people, you have to learn how to balance your truth with theirs, and also spot when the two are just never going to overlap enough to make things work.
In a good faith situation, you have to be able to hear and consider both truths, and admit to yourself that both are probably a little right and a little wrong. You have to learn how to admit that you can’t possibly be right about everything, and sometimes you have to compromise. But when you’re in an abusive situation, that ability can very easily be used against you.You can’t give someone the benefit of the doubt when all they are looking for is a chink in the armor. And when someone learns that being too stubborn or too insistent on your own truth is something about yourself that you worry about, that it’s something you carefully monitor with yourself and know to be a weakness, it can become their greatest weapon. It can become your achilles heel.
My version of the truth is that he yelled at me for no reason. His version of the truth is that I did something frustrating that caused him to yell. I can take that on board. Sometimes people do things that contribute to other people losing their cool. People get frustrated. People yell. I can try not to do the frustrating thing anymore, if he can try not to yell. After all, a healthy relationship is about compromise, right? It’s about learning not to always insist that you are right and the other person is wrong, but trying to see your own fault in the situation and take responsibility for it. Right?
And then, some months down the line, I’ve become so frustrating that I’m causing plates of food to be thrown. And then eventually I’m causing doors to be kicked in. I’m causing my husband to cheat. I’m causing him to pull out a knife and threaten to kill me or harm himself. I’m causing all kinds of things. Some of the frustrating things I do to cause these things include expecting him to wash the dishes after I cooked dinner, not scrubbing the floor the way his mother does, being hurt when he doesn’t do anything for my birthday, getting up to leave the table during a meal when he is berating me, and “bringing down the mood” by being sad while my mother was dying.
But my truth isn’t the only one, right? And when I do take a stand and say, no, sometimes things are just 100% wrong? Well, that’s just me and how I always need to be right about everything, don’t I? I can never accept any of my own responsibility in the situation, can I? I’m little miss perfect, little miss never wrong.
It doesn’t take these kinds of people long to figure out where your buttons are. Your sore spots. It didn’t take him long to realize that when he said, “You know, you’re not always right about everything,” I would automatically take a step back. That if he applied a little pressure in just that place, I would stop and question myself.
How do you assert your truth after that? How do you even know what it is anymore?
Looking at all of that written out there at once, it looks stupid. I feel stupid. But that’s the thing about the truth. If you show this to enough people–and it won’t even have to be very many–eventually one of them will say something about how I probably caused some, if not all, of this. If not by pushing him to it, then at least by staying. You may have even had some thoughts about that yourself while reading. I live in this society, too. I’m not immune from those thoughts or messages.
But acknowledging that the truth is subjective is not the same as saying that there is no such thing as truth. And sometimes the best you can do is shut out all of the noise and figure out, at the very least, what your truth is. I needed to sort things out for myself, with the help of a handful of very trusted loved ones. I needed to block everything out and go deep inside to the stillest part of myself, cup my hand to my ear and listen for the whisper of inner truth. I found her. I stayed down there with her for a long time, resting and listening. She told me many things. And I’m back now, with all of the things that she taught me. I may not know what the absolute truth is, but I know what my truth is, and I’m learning more about it every day. And I’m ready to start talking about it.—
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.