August 2009


Lately, I’ve been going to the dentist every week. Old fillings needed replacing and I must say that dental work in Korea is not only affordable but it is pleasant. The initial check-up cost 5,000W (approx. $5USD) and each ceramic filling is 200,000W (approx. $200USD) without insurance. Also, the dentist is gentle and nimble, the work thus far has been done without any novacaine.

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I hear dental implants originated here and it costs about half what you pay stateside.

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It’s still hot. I’m still eating ice cream. While I’ve seen boxes of ice cream before, never like this. Inside you will find little cubes of individually wrapped ice cream. Each is the size of an ice cube. Eating multiples leaves a pile of wrappers that makes you feel like a glutton. Perhaps this is how native Korean girls stay so thin…small serving size=small dress size?!

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Accessing our safe deposit box is totally automated. I walk up to a digital touch screen and key my way in. Not like the old school Bank of America branch in Westwood where I have to wait for a teller to sign me in and sort through a large ring of keys to help me open my safe deposit box. While I miss the chit-chat with a person, I appreciate the efficiency here…not to mention that my Korean conversation still needs improvement.

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My safe deposit box lights up for me upon entry into the room.

Today is malbok/말복 in Korea. It marks the end of the dog days of summer and everyone has a big bowl of hot chicken soup, samgyetang/삼계탕 to cool off. Not sure if it’s because I’m a gyopo, but I needed to turn on the air-conditioner after a bowl of mother-in-law’s homemade chicken soup.

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It’s called samgyetang/삼계탕 because it has in-sam/인삼 (ginseng), gye/계 (hanja for chicken), tang/탕 (soup).

Since I managed to misplace my pacifier canisters it was time to replace them. They had the strangest names for chocolate: Nude Balls and TP (short for toilet paper in English). FYI: avoid the TP because they are fruit flavored peanut M&Ms~an icky combination. At least the canisters serve a purpose for baby and the stickers are easily removed.

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We went to a first birthday/tol. This is where a child chooses his fate or career path. Symbolic items are placed in front of the child and the first one he picks up indicates his future. The standard array includes a pencil, money, string, rice.

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Stethoscope (doctor), pencil (scholar), rice (never go hungry), string (long life) and a gavel (lawyer).

Koreans love to take photographs of their babies. Even if you are camera shy, there are obligatory studio portraits taken at 100 days and again at  1 year. Baby’s 100 day studio photos came more quickly than expected. Tip for expecting moms in Korea: get your outfit ready well beforehand, something that fits when 3-5 months pregnant because your belly won’t be pre-baby flat and it’s hard to shop with a newborn.

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There was one photographer and two people to make the baby laugh at the studio.