Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hahm for Sale!

Tonight I came home from Seoul a bit earlier than usual after booting it back at a near steady 140.  As I negotiated my way to the apartment, I found myself in the middle of a Korean betrothal / bachelor party called the selling of the hahm.

It isn't common to see peeps selling the hahm these days.  Instead, most Koreans choose to go to expensive restaurants and straight out exchange gifts instead of playing out the selling of the hahm by the groom's friends.  As the costs of weddings can become debilitating and the cause of many problems after marriage, many Koreans have simply given up on following every traditional custom to reduce the financial burden on each family.

From what I've heard and seen, the selling of the hahm is basically the official consent from the groom to marry the bride.  Modern versions see friends dressing up and bringing a box which contains the groom's family registry, documents consenting to the marriage, and gifts such as jewelry or cosmetics.  From what I've heard, modern interpretations have the box representing the groom's friendship / loyalty, and the friends bringing it demand a payment since they will in a sense 'lose' their friend, as his loyalties will now reside more with the bride and her family.  The bride's family is supposed to offer food, drink, and negotiate the buying of the hahm, with generally 50 manners being the smallest amount ranging up to several million won.  This can go on for quite some time and be quite rowdy as the group gets progressively drunker.  When the amount is finally settled on, the friends take the money and use it to go get completely shitfaced.

This was only the third one I'd ever seen.  By the looks of it they were well on their way to blotto, as already some of the party selling the hahm were passed out under some shrubs.  I thought about my own Korean wedding: a wedding hall, girls with swords, a smoke and bubble machine.  The quick change into the hanbok, the piggy back around a table of mostly plastic food, the horror from the photographer when I demanded a picture of June trying to piggy back me.  That moment when I first saw June in her wedding dress. . . amazing.  I stopped thinking, as I was feeling light, caught up in what was happening around me, and didn't want to get caught up in anything else.

I left after about 20 minutes, as I had a jug of Max chilling in the refrigerator at home and some reading to do before bed. 

Time for that Max.

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