The New York Philharmonic will perform in Pyongyang tomorrow (or is today? or...can't quite get the time difference straight...) as part of the largest contingent of Americans to visit North Korea since the Korean War. They are there with an international press corps. The concert, which will open with the US and North Korean national anthems, will be broadcast live on North Korean television. They will also play "Arirang," in addition to pieces by Dvorak, Gershwin and Wagner.
I read somewhere else that there are also a few musicians of Korean descent that will be performing and that they received special assurances for their safety. As a cultural exchange, the visit excites me. But in the larger diplomatic picture? I think it's probably just one small pebble amongst a field of boulders. Still, every little bit counts, as they say.
On April 8, Ko San will become the first South Korean space astronaut. And after years of research (and millions of dollars, of course), he will be bringing with him our favorite national food, kimchi!
The NY Times has a great article about the fermented cabbage's journey to space.
Trepidatious. Now that's an understatement to describe how I felt this morning as I dropped off Little Nabi, 2 and 1/2 months shy of 3 years of age, at her preschool.
For the first time.
Due to her dad's night work schedule and my day work schedule, we have been (un)fortunate enough to not need daycare. We also never used a babysitter. For two occasions, my sister took care of LN for 2 and 1/2 hours each time - long enough for a movie. Both times, she missed her mommy and cried.
People born in Hawaii, we've got a network thing going on, so when Hawaii's-own Guy Kawasaki dropped me a line to say that he had launched his new service, I hopped over to take a look, and I liked.
Last year, Kawasaki caused a buzz in the mom blog world (and the
tech world for reasons that will soon become clear) by publishing his ultimate list of mom blog must-reads on his personal blog. My blog CityMama and Kimchi Mamas were included in his original list
and we are in very good company. Since then, the mom blog list has
migrated over to his new service, Alltop.com (beta). And not only that, Alltop.com aggregates "all the top stories...all the time." (Want to know more? Click this highlighted text.)
If you are interested in celeb gossip or politics or gaming or
fashion or geeky stuff, the top posts in lots of different genres are
covered all in one place, without you having to load anything into a
feed reader. I bet your favorites are already there. It's like heaven
for media junkies like me. Check it out!
When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I made a deal with our parents. His parents, the traditional Koreans who would actually care about such things, would get to give our male children their middle/Korean names. My parents (or my mom, since she's the Korean one), would get to name any of our daughters.
Even after less than a year of marriage, I understood that Charlie's parents would expect to give our sons their Korean names. You see, Charlie comes from one of those storied clans who can trace their ancestry back countless generations and these types of things remain important to his parents. Since Korean first names consist of two syllables, each generation is designated a special character or syllable that becomes either the first or second part of their first name (the position of this pre-designated character will depend on the specific generation). To add to all this pomp and circumstance, Charlie happens to be the first son of the first son of the first son for I don't know how many generations, which made our first son part of that line of first sons.
Despite the somewhat distasteful idea that it would be more important to my traditional Korean in-laws to name sons rather than daughters, I didn't generally mind the whole idea. I suppose it was/is nice for my children to become "part of the family" in this small, but significant way. And, to his credit, my father-in-law went out of his way to give us choices when it came to the second, non-designated character. And besides, my parents really didn't care either way and we all really love his Korean name.
But now that our second - and possibly last (although no guarantees) - child is coming and it happens to also be a boy, I think my parents are at least a bit disappointed that they won't get the honor of naming him. They're not upset, but they did ask whether they would get to name this child and, when I explained that they wouldn't, my mom seemed disappointed, if resigned, and my dad made a comment about "tiresome" Korean traditions.
On the one hand, I like that my sons are part of something that goes back so many generations. But on the other hand, the idea that only the father's side of the family gets this naming honor does seem a little unfair. I've always felt free, for the most part, to pick and choose which Korean customs to adopt, especially in my non-traditional, half-Korean upbringing. But marrying into a more traditional Korean family has forced some compromises, this being one of them.
Considering how much of Korea's historical treasures were destroyed by Japanese occupiers (including the city walls that surrounded Seoul up until the the early 20th century), it makes me angry that someone wouldn't have enough respect for the few landmarks that are still standing. The last time Charlie and I visited Korea we watched the changing of the guard at Namdaemun, the oldest wood-built structure in Seoul (circa 14th century). It is considered South Korea's premier national treasure. It was amazing to see such a beautifully painted wooden structure in the middle of Seoul's high-rise buildings. Now I'm so glad we even had the chance.
The Lunar New Year brought in the year of the Rat, and also a new addition to the world of multicutural kids tv. I know that Kai-Lan speaks Mandarin, and that she's Chinese American, but she can also be a good role model for Asian American kids in general. (And here's a hint - the show is free to download in iTunes.)
It seems like a cute show, the kind that aims to be a little educational. They throw in Mandarin here and there, and leave space to engage kids (or grown-ups) that may be watching. Kai-Lan's friends are cute bubbly animals. She also spends time with her Ye-Ye (grandfather in Mandarin).
For me, it's kind of nice to see a kids show that incorporates Mandarin. I'm still on the fence about whether I'd let my daughter watch this show. She's learning Mandarin from other videos that she watches at my parents' house, but she hasn't seen too many tv shows in her life. Partly, I'm resistant to the idea of watching shows from Nick Jr. because I don't want to have to fight her when she wants Kai-Lan fruit gummies or Dora underwear. I don't want my daughter to watch tv that reinforces stereotypes, especially about family composition, gender, race, and sexual orientation. We are currently a no-tv household, though I still watch a couple shows on the computer and on DVD. If I watch some tv, shouldn't she be able to?
What are the tv rules in your house? Do you seek out tv with specific kinds of role models?
As some of you may already know from my personal blog, I am in the throes of preparing for an upcoming divorce. I have not filed yet but it's already quite ugly, given that we also have a Little Nabi to fight over consider,and I we have abandoned all hope of future relocation to Korea in order for LN to learn her mother's side of culture and language. As a matter of fact, that aspect of our future plans was the first thing PN, my soon-to-be-ex husband, brought up as something he would not allow if I were to proceed with the divorce plans.
Some of the things with which I initially wrestled included not only the demise of aforementioned plan but also racial and cultural components of our family now and in the future.