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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 18, 2005

Koreans celebrate family on Chuseok

By Jeff Chung

"Lawyers" is in its fourth week, with episodes 7 and 8 airing Friday and Saturday at 7:50 p.m. The drama at the trial continues.

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K-QUESTION

What do you most enjoy about Korean dramas?

1. Family values.

2. Story lines.

3. Attractive actors/actresses.

To vote, go to www.honoluluadvertiser.com/islandslife. Voting ends at 11 a.m. Friday. See the results next Sunday.

Last Week's Poll

Last week we asked, "Should fans be aware when South Korean stars come to Hawai'i for vacation?

Of the 561 who voted, 267 said yes and 294 said no.

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Korea is now celebrating the equivalent of Thanksgiving.

Chuseok also known as Harvest Moon Festival, Hangawi or Jungchujeol is one of the major holidays in Korea. Chuseok falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which happens to be today.

Chuseok dates back to the Silla era, about 50 B.C. It celebrates the annual reaping of the harvest. Families get together to give thanks to ancestors for another year of good crops.

Traditional games, food and customs are practiced during Chuseok. It's a three-day holiday in South Korea; people are in a mad rush to get to the countryside or to the designated home where the whole family and extended family get together. Families pay respect to their living relatives and also pay respect to the ancestors by visiting graves.

The celebration actually starts well before the holiday. Women are busy making visits to the market, buying food to prepare the traditional feast. Vendors are busy getting gifts for their clients; employees are busy getting gifts for their bosses; families getting gifts for close friends and family. Gifts are usually food items such as fruit, steak or other Chuseok-related edibles.

Women also take out of the storage their favorite hanbok (traditional Korean dress) to wear during the holiday.

The holiday also seems to create a mass traffic jam all over South Korea. People clog all forms of transportation, trying to get to their hometowns. A commute that usually takes four to five hours will take as long as 20 hours, especially if you're going by car.

Traditionally, the paternal family home is where you gather usually, the home of the first son in the family tree. All members of the extended families will come together as the eldest son presides over the ceremony, called "Charae."

On Chuseok morning, a feast that may have taken several days of preparation will be served. A large table will be set with specific foods, which have a specific meaning. Placement is important. For example, there are usually five rows of food; the table is set so it can only be approached from the south side. On the far end of the table are tablets representing the family ancestors. In the first row are rice, soup, noodles, a glass of Korean wine and rice cake at the northeast end of the table.

In the second row are meats such as beef on the left, and jeon, tofu and fish on the right side. The third row has soups. The fourth row has vegetable side dishes, such as bean sprouts. In the last row are plates with Chinese dates, chestnuts, persimmon, fruit and walnuts.

The family, starting with the eldest son, takes turns approaching the table and bowing in respect and thanks to ancestors. (Note: While Christian families in South Korea don't bow, they will follow other customs as a sign of respect.)

The table is then set for the whole family to enjoy as Chuseok breakfast.

One of the most common food associated with Chuseok is songpyeon, a crescent-shaped rice cake made with newly harvested rice flour that is kneaded into dumplings stuffed with beans or sesame seeds. Songpyeon is cooked with pine needles to keep the rice cakes from sticking to each other, which give off a great scent while cooking.

Traditionally, women in a large circle make songpyeon together, the elder women telling of old times and passing along their skills to the next generations. It's said that a woman who makes a pretty songpyeon will have a beautiful daughter. Nowadays, however, with more women in the work force, songpyeon is purchased at the local grocery store rather than homemade.

After the feast, family members will hold hands in a circle and join in dancing and singing "Kang Kang Suwulreh" under the full moon.

Chuseok highlights the importance of family in Korean society. This holiday is a reminder that families are connected and respect for one another is a bond passed from generation to generation.

It's such an important event that you will often see it in Korean dramas.

That's not all: Korean news anchors will even dress in hanbok on Chuseok.

Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which televises all of the K-dramas. If you have a K-drama question or comment, call KBFD at 521-8066.


NEW K-DRAMA, 'REBIRTH,' STARTING UP

'A FAREWELL TO TEARS'

EPISODES 3 AND 4

Tonight at 7: Do-jin is taken aback when Suh-young breaks off the engagement. Yeon-shim can't figure out why Suh-young broke off the engagement. Il-ho reluctantly gives Yeo-jin permission to marry Ki-bum. Jung-woo grows anxious when he doesn't get a call back from job interviews.

Tonight at 8: Yeo-jin consoles Sung-min after he declares bankruptcy. Do-jin begs Min-joo to persuade Suh-young to change her mind, but Min-joo tells him she'll pursue Do-jin. Ki-bum asks Yeo-jin to marry him, but she tearfully tells him she still has feelings for Sung-min.

'FASHION '70S'

EPISODES 21 AND 22

Tomorrow at 7:50 p.m.: Dong-young and Bin are both shot and wounded. Their mission is successful, but Bin loses the use of his right arm and hand. He asks Dong-young not to tell Duh-mi about his injury. Mr. Ko and Joon-hee confront each other about his search for the real Joon-hee.

Tuesday at 7:50 p.m.: After learning about Yang-ja, Dong-young takes Duh-mi to Taegu to help her get her memory back. But he doesn't tell Mr. Ko that Duh-mi's the real Joon-hee. Joon-hee tells Yang-ja to take Duh-mi and leave. Even after arriving in Taegu, Duh-mi refuses to remember.

'REBIRTH'

EPISODES 1 AND 2

Wednesday at 7:50 p.m. (a new, 24-episode drama: The story of love and revenge starts with what seems to be a fatal car crash for a detective and his son. But his son isn't really dead and grows up with an adopted family. He goes on to become a detective. Here's the major characters: Yoo Kang-hyuk (one of the twin brothers who supposedly died in the accident with his father, but survives and grows up as Suh Hae-eun); Yoon Shin-hyuk (Kang-hyuk's twin brother who grew up with his mother and stepfather and now is vice president of his stepfather's construction company); Suh Jae-soo (who took Kang-hyuk and raised him as his own son); Suh Eun-ha (Jae-soo's daughter); Yoo Gun-ha (Kang-hyuk & Shin-hyuk's father, who was killed in the accident); Lee Tae-joon (Gun-ha's friend, an ambitious politician who wishes to run for president someday); Lee Kang-joo (a reporter and Lee Tae-joon's daughter, who serves as Shin-hyuk's love interest); Jung Sang-gook (Gun-ha's friend and a chairman of a construction company); Jung Jin-woo (Jung Sang-gook's son and Shin-hyuk's rival); Kang In-chul (Shin-hyuk's stepfather).

Hae-eun is a vice detective who grew up with his adopted family, Jae-soo and Eun-ha, Jae-so's daughter. He remembers nothing of his past but he's haunted by a nightmare of a certain accident. While working on what seems to be a suicide case of a businessman, he remembers seeing a ring on the victim's finger.

Thursday at 7:50 p.m.: Shin-hyuk lost his twin brother and father in a car accident 20 years ago. Living with the guilt has made him an unfeeling and cold businessman. He tries to marry Kang-ju, an assemblyman's daughter and his childhood friend, but she refuses. Jin-woo meets Eun-ha at a party and immediately falls for her.

'LAWYERS'

EPISODES 7 AND 8

Friday at 7:50 p.m.: The team of Alex Suh and Koh Young-joong throw a curve ball at the slush fund trial by demanding that the authorities do an investigation of the whole matter. Apparently, this puts them in the driver's seat because the authorities for some reason are not able to investigate without endangering their own legitimacy.

Saturday at 7:50 p.m.: Jung-ho tells Joo-hee not to pursue the matter out of fear that she'll make herself Suk-ki's target. Jung-ho gets the results of a fingerprint search and it confirms that Kwon Hyuk-joong, Hong In-ki's thug, is the same man who was involved in the traffic accident and who took the fall as the man who deposited money into Joo-hee's account.