Ji and Connlann are officially married.
I don’t have many photos of the event, because my role as the father of the groom was to stay in the background, out of the way, and during the official ceremony I was relegated to a silver chair off to the side, and bouncing out of it would have been indiscreet. So I’ll just summarize the event.
It was short. The mothers of the bride and groom marched in first, bowed to each other and the group, and took their seats. The bride and groom marched in together, bowed to the audience, and then walked to each side and bowed to their parents. Then they stood before the officiant, who was a bilingual army chaplain, who said the nice words in both Korean and English — and I was happy that it was an entirely secular event. The bride and groom had explained that they were unbelievers, and the chaplain respected that.
Then they ‘cut’ a fake cake, there was a flurry of photography from the official photographer, and it was done. I thought. No, this was just the Westernize ceremony.
We went downstairs to the reception at the New York New York restaurant, where there was a huge room filled with a buffet of Korean dishes — one thing we learned is that in Korea, there is no such thing as a small meal. We also learned that few Koreans speak English, and even fewer Americans speak Korean. Our bilingual translator was the bride, who obviously had many other things to do than explain what was going on. Most of our evening was spent responding to gestures.
We were waved into a side room, mysteriously. Just the immediate family members were present. We were directed to sit on cushions to the side and wait. And then…Ji and Connlann showed up in hanbok, and a whole new ceremony started up. There was much bowing. There was the sharing of sweets. There was the flinging of jujubes and chestnuts. It was the traditional pyebaek. It was very nice, although we moved through it in a state of utter cluelessness, and every moment was a surprise.
Afterwards, we had a few bites at the reception, and then the mother of the bride gestured to us to follow her, and led us to her car and drove all the way across Daegu to her home, where the immediate family had gathered for a private party — the kids were not there. Just us two Americans and a close group of aunts, uncles, cousins, and Ji’s parents. I guess we were part of the family.
They then unveiled the centerpiece of the event: they opened a box, and in it was a whole, huge, intact octopus, roughly a meter across, its arms artfully and symmetrically coiled tightly. It was magnificent. I didn’t know whether to weep at the death of this glorious beast, or salivate, so I did both. And then the aunts descended upon it with sharp knives and sliced it into hundreds of little bits.
Suddenly, I wanted to be Korean. They know how to seal a wedding. It was beautiful. Also delicious.
The rest was anticlimactic. Our flight left the next morning, and Daegu is a four hour bus ride from Incheon airport, so we started our journey back in the wee hours. Let me just say that with the bus, multiple long layovers, a trans-pacific flight, and the long drive from the Minneapolis airport to Morris, we were in transit for 34 hours.
So now we’re home at last. We need to go back.