Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Ajummas and the Ajusshis

Today was Memorial Day, so companies and schools were closed and the Koreans took out their tents and pitched them at the park, and then picnicked and played outside all day.  Or at least that's what it seemed like. We found ourselves looking for a shady place to sit this afternoon at our local park, but no such luck.  Every bench and every gazebo was full.  

David and I try to go to the park in the mornings before work for a run, often we don't make it, but when we do, I'm amazed--AMAZED--to see how many grandmas and grandpas have already hit the trails in their vizors, walking sticks and neon colored sports gear.  One morning a few weeks ago there was a group of about thirty-five, forty seniors who were doing some kind of morning dance class altogether out on the basketball courts.  It was quite a sight to behold and I regret that I didn't have a way of capturing it on camera, but when I mentioned what I had seen to my co-teacher, she responded without surprise, "That's normal!  You should see the Japanese."  

Normal?  At least not where I come from, but amazing none the less.  If I could be that active when I hit my golden years, I'd only be so lucky.  There is something about the Koreans' work ethic that doesn't allow them to rest, even once they've retired and gone completely gray.  Its a bit embarrassing every time a man more than double my age passes me on our morning runs (which happens a lot more often than I care to admit!) but it is precisely those seniors still parading around the parks at sunrise, that a large part of Korea's success over the last half century is owed. 

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