Sunday, September 30, 2012

Korean Jeong

Korean Jeong is one of those words that is not easily translated into English.  It means so many things: love, affection, attachment, empathy...  It's my favorite word in Korean.  I have "Jeong" necklaces available in my Etsy Shop.  I also have earrings but I need to photograph them.
I have what I feel is a good example of Korean jeong.  Hellena, my Korean girlfriend, was telling me that her boyfriend was off of work for four months.  I asked if there was a layoff and she told me that he had volunteered to be off.  I thought he was crazy until she explained why.

At his company, senior co-workers made a terrible mistake which caused the company to lose a great deal of money.  In order to weather the blow, the owners said that everyone would have to take a temporary pay cut and would also have to take time off without pay.  He had talked to Hellena about what was going on and how this was going to be really tough on his co-workers, all of whom were married and with families.

Hellena suggested that he volunteer to take the four months off (without pay) because he wasn't married and he lived with his mother so it wouldn't be a huge financial burden to him.  He didn't immediately agree to doing this but with prodding from Hellena, he finally relented and let the company know he was willing do this even though the mistake was made by others.

During the four months off, he exercised a lot and lost a lot of weight.  He also spent quality time doing what he liked to do which if you know the Korean work ethic, this is nearly impossible.  When Hellena visited Korea during a layoff, I went up to Seoul and got to spend the day with him and Hellena.  Even though he wasn't making a salary, he wouldn't allow me to pay for a thing.  I was able to pay him back when Hellena visited us in the States and she picked out a North Face jacket.  North Face is very expensive in Korea and very desirable.

He is back at work now and I wonder what his co-workers think of what he did.  I'm sure they are very grateful.  I also wondered if that same scenario here in the States would have the same outcome.  But to me, this is a perfect example of Korean jeong and one of the millions of reasons I love Korea so.

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