Wedding in Seoul, wooden ducks and scientific research - 78
‘Wooden ducks’ are part of the ceremony, with the bridegroom being presented two wooden ducks in the initial part of the ceremony. The husband and wife both have a wooden duck at home when they are married and the ducks should always face each other. If one of the couple is upset they turn their wooden duck around to face the other way, in order to show that they are upset with the other. This technique for showing anger, moods, dissatisfaction is also sometimes used in Korea for high intensity business.
A student, who works in scientific research on intensive two or three month projects, spoke of his four-man team and their system. On arriving at work, each group member would have to go to a blackboard and put a tick (good), dash (medium) or cross (bad) to highlight their mood.
Such was the intensity of the projects they were working on, that they had needed a way of ensuring that the project was not affected by personal feelings. If someone drew a cross then the other members of the team would be more sensitive towards him/her on that day, leaving him or her to have more space. My student stated that this approach was introduced and it was very successful in solving the personal issues that had previously been a problem and slowed down the project.
Even at weddings, Korean can be completive to an extent. The more people you have at your wedding, the more important you come across as being. It is not unusual to have a few hundred at you wedding in Korea and many of the guests are often people you have not met before and others you work with but have hardly spoken to. You do not need to be invited to a wedding in Korea. If you work with the person getting married, or are related, or if it is someone you are connected with in any way, or went school with, or even if you are walking by, there is nothing to stop you from joining the wedding. It is a great opportunity for Westerners to experience a part of Korean culture. The bride usually wears the traditional ‘Han Bok’, whilst the man often wears a suit. In the case of the traditional wedding, it was with some amusement that we watched a tall lanky pale-faced Englishman, (almost 6ft tall) dressed in a Han Bok, bowing in an awkward style with his tall frame.
The traditional weddings also include what appeared from a distance to be two chickens which are alive and which are placed under the tea table. We have asked numerous people and looked in several books, but we have yet to learn of the significance of these two chickens. It was my thought that the two chickens were perhaps two of the invited guests, present at the wedding with the best seats in the house. The chickens were not killed in the ceremony, as we were thinking they might be, but we avoided the chicken on the buffet afterwards just in case.