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Only work on top of human capabilities helps a citizen of The Republic of Korea achieve certain level of comfort and provide everything necessary for their loved ones. They are working six days a week for ten-twelve hours a day, four official vacation days a year, few holidays. Yes, this is hard, but unfortunately it is necessary in the modern life oriented towards the competition of technologies and progress. This factor alone has allowed Seoul to grow from an average low-rise capital of a developing state to a huge, high-rise, modern and technological metropolis «the capital of a developed country. The standard of living of people has also become incomparably higher than some 50 years ago. The industries of construction, mechanical engineering, automobile manufacturing, robotics, and medical equipment manufacturing were developing rapidly. The country had a very low unemployment rate among the population, because it was, firstly, a shame not to work, and secondly, it was simply impossible, given the prices for food and housing. It was very rare to find a wanderer on the street with no fixed adobe, and even if this happened, the social services of the city quickly would track down his relatives in the country and try their best to help the person return to normal life. However, all the benefits and achievements of technological progress do not pass without sacrifice. An inhumane work schedule often pushes residents of Korea populated only fifty million people to premature death. Sad statistics showed an average of 44 people a day in the country who end their lives by suicide! Perhaps this is an unavoidable price for progress and urbanization.
Any resident of Seoul may be compared with a small cell of a large, round-the-clock functioning, cohesive organism. Each resident worked both to ensure their own food, and for the benefit of the entire body and society. After all, if you believe the property of emergence of the system, and remove a group of cells from the body, it will be a completely different organism, a different system. So in this city, everyone's work was important and visible, beginning from a janitor who install watering systems on street trees to a director of the world's largest electronics brand.
Therefore, Korean children from childhood were accustomed to work, and it was everywhere: at school, at home, in a public library, on a sports field. They had to do work hard in order to earn a commendation! Our main character had been hardworking since childhood and she was especially successful in her studies.
Despite the love of work, on Sundays Kim's family sometimes went by car to visit Jin Ho's maternal grandparents in the provinces Gangwon. In Korean villages it feels completely different, comparing with the atmosphere of the bustling, business-like, stingy with emotions capital. People here were kinder, closer to each other, all the villagers knew the problems and joys of their neighbors and were always ready to help out selflessly. Jin Ho's maternal grandparents were always very happy to see their grandkids, gathering at a large table laid with various kinds of dishes: kimchi, chotgal (salted clams, fish or shrimp) and twengzhang (soy paste)delicious soup "galbi-tang" with beef ribs, fried chicken in a spicy sauce. Grandparents played and pampered them. The family often came to the grandparents' village to celebrate Sollal and to participate in the rite of Jongmyo Cherye, the commemoration of the ancestors.
The ceremony was propitiatory in nature, people believed that the closest ancestors continue to be patrons of their family and influence all the processes and important family decisions. In this way, the generations were connected. The ancestor cult is not only the worship of the dead, but also unconditional respect and reverence for the older generation instilled in young Koreans from childhood. The essence of the ceremony consists in feeding the ancestors delicious food, treating them as if they were alive.
"Grandma, are we going to have dinner with our great-grandparents today? What will we feed them?" little brother Hyeon Jae asked and looked at his grandmother with hungry, sly eyes.
"We're going to give them galbi-tang and noodles put on their plates. Don't worry, my dear, I will never forget to give you something finger-licking good!"
In childhood, everything seems
simple and ordinary. Food just appears on the table, just like new pencils, mom
and dad just plays with you all the time, and grandma and grandpa await you
with candy on the weekends. The car just starts and goes, things appear and
change, parents are always young. What a pity that this simplicity quickly ends
and every year the child understands more and more that everything was not that
simple at all…
Gangwon-do is a mountain covered province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. It is bounded on the east part by the Sea of Japan.
Sollal is Korean New Year, it is the first day of the Korean calendar and one of the most important traditional Korean holidays. It's celebrated not later than the 20 February.
Jongmyo Cherye is a memorial ceremony. According to the Korean belief, the soul of a person does not leave immediately after his death, but remains with descendants for several generations. All this time, the dead person is still considered a family member, and Koreans hold a special memorial ceremony in his honor.