I can’t believe it’s already been one month since the wedding.
Well we’ve begun uploading photos from the wedding. It is a harder process than I imagined it would be. There are so many pics and many of them are the same as ones our friends took so we have to weed through them.
While not necessarily in chronological order, the first bunch of pictures we’re posting are for the Ham night (also referred to in this blog as ‘the crazy squid face night!’ (CSFN!) We discussed the process of the CSFN in an earlier post about the rituals involved before the wedding.
We tried to keep everything by the book. This is how it played out:
"I have to put that on my face?"
So all of the boys showed up on time in their Sunday best, all suited with pressed ties and coiffed follicles. They saw the Ham (함) or wedding chest placed on top of a bowl on the floor in the center of the room. It was wrapped in silk and quite naturally, the nine of us shifted around it as I brought out the bag of dried squid. Ayham was the brave one to open the bag and he was also very kind to share the aroma with the rest of us. I saw my friends’ eyes immediately turn to me with a sense of disbelief. Nervous laughter was the only way to cope… until I brought out the soju (소주).
Me - "Is it weird that I have one tentacle longer than the other?" Shea - "Jamie, everyone has one tentacle hanging lower than the other!"
Arts and Crafts…
With minimal tools at our disposal (soju, a pair of scissors, some elastic string, a dull knife and Pam’s cuticle mini-scissors) we began constructing personalized demonic masks out of the dried carcasses of the sea’s most ugly creature. They turned out pretty cool actually. Putting them on, however, regardless of the amount of soju in one’s system, is still a major test of friendship, maybe one of the strongest tests known to the post-neolithic man. I just want to thank them again for a very random but memorable night.
It was hard to see where we were walking.
Freaking out the Locals…
It was time to go. Through awkwardly cut holes, we helped my brother, Tyler (aka ‘the Hamster’) put the Ham on his back, careful not to let it touch the floor, then headed out to cross the busy intersection of Sinchon to where we needed to catch the public bus. Chanting ‘Ham Sasseyo!’, which means ‘Wedding chest for sale!’, we went out into the street and startled many Korean’s young and old.
To put it into context, the Ham procession as a wedding rite is not very common anymore. It isn’t mandatory for Koreans and, as traditional Korean weddings are not very popular either, is rarely seen these days. However, because of soap operas and movies, most Koreans still recognize what we are doing. That said, there is still no easy way for a Korean person to react to nine non-Koreans yelling in the streets in mangled Korean language wearing suits and ties with squid stuck to their faces. It’s just not normal. But that’s how we roll!
The little girl in the bottom right corner was stunned!
Is this Seat Taken?
The bus ride was quite hilarious in retrospect. First, I took way too long to pay for us all to get on. Try counting Wan, with all the zeroes, after a few bottles of soju, staring through a squid to an obviously frightened driver as nervous bus patrons stare in disbelief. It takes focus. Eventually he just took the money in my hand without counting and waved us to get on quickly. Once we were on, for some reason, we all acted quite civilized. We all took seats amongst other Koreans on the bus, looked forward or out the window as the bus pulled away, almost forgetting that we were wearing squid on our faces. No one looked at us, they all diverted their eyes, save for Korea’s bravest 5 year old girl. She had a staring contest with Tai that demonstrated true resolve, never squinting, never turning away, just trying to figure out what the hell we were doing in her country, on her regular bus route, wearing her favorite after-school snack on our mugs.
Luckily it was a short ride because I’m sure we were stinking up the bus pretty bad with our fish faces.
The Squid Face Parade
Waking Up the Neighbors…
The last leg of our journey took us through the quiet neighborhood of Rory’s childhood as we yelled ‘Ham Sassaeyo!’, clapping our hands and downing another bottle of soju. We stopped to take a picture in front of a fish restaurant where our fellow sea creatures were swimming in aquariums outside on the street. After only a 10 minute walk we arrived at the gate to Rory’s building complex where her two friends and her brother were waiting for us. They escorted us to her building and my brother Tyler, as the office Hamster, took over to bargain for payment so that we would enter the building.
Tyler haggling for my right to present myself to Rory
The Price is Right…
We climbed the to the tenth floor, stopping at each floor while Tyler demanded more money from Rory’s brother in order to get us to continue to the apartment. When we reached the door, I was presented with a gourd, which I smashed very successfully. We entered the apartment and Tyler placed the Ham on a rice bean cake bowl in Rory’s living room. Her parents opened it and read the official letter stating my family’s desire for a union. Then her mom reached in as she covered her eyes and grabbed one of two silk items. If she pulled blue it means our first child would be a boy and if it was pink it would be a girl. (She pulled a pink one by the way) Then, after accepting the Ham, it meant that her parents accepted the terms and our family’s gifts and she was finally allowed to exit in her hanbok and join us for the huge dinner that Rory’s mom had prepared.
Ready for our feast!
It was a fantastic night, a really original wedding custom that I will remember always. I’m glad my friends had the courage to join in because in the end, I think we all had a blast.
I am working on editing the video from that night and will share it shortly. See all the pics here.
Click anywhere to cancel