Ten years ago after passing the written exam to work for a newspaper, a journalist, now writing for the Peace Weekly, recalls a question he and four others were asked during the followup interview, a question that surprised him. They were asked for the meaning of a word. Only one of them knew; it was the word for a male second cousin of one's father.
relationships, are very important in Korea but this
is changing in today's world, he says. In Korean all degrees of
relationships within a family have a name. There is a different name for
the relationship between a man and a woman when seen from the father's
side and when seen from the mother's side. The journalist gives us an
example of some of the titles given to family members. He believes that
the word he was asked to define during that interview ten years ago
would stump 9 out 10 persons asked to define it today.
on to mention how the question of family relationship arose during a
wedding ceremony of one of his relatives. There he met many he hadn't
seen in a long time. One of his nephews and a male cousin's son asked
him who he was, and then gave him their name cards. It was their first
meeting, but it prompted him to give the "family tree" more thought than
he had previously. In fact, he says that once you know the principles
involved, the family tree titles are not that difficult to remember, marveling at the
scientific manner and the simple way it is done.
In the past,
when families lived in the same village, all the children had no problem
with the different titles and relationships; they were well-known. This
way of life has changed: families have moved, the dependence on each
other, prevalent in the past, has changed, replaced by a new style of
life and manners. The younger the persons are the more this is true.
They are very much part of the capitalistic way of life and its
competition. Both men and women have to work to make ends meet, often
resulting in many young people putting off marriage, which increases
the likelihood of having a society with many older unmarried women and
single men. The bonds of the past have become weak, he says, and it is
only natural that the blood relationships have also suffered, with
today's youth finding it more difficult to have a close relationship
with family and others.
The natural relationships we had in the
past are giving way to what has been called SNS relationships,
relationships that exist only in cyberspace.The social networking
services are taking the place of the old connections. In this world the
entertainers are the ones frequently encountered. We may not know, he
says, our second, third or fourth cousins, but we know every thing about
the entertainers: what they eat, what they wear, their hobbies, and the
like. The modern entertainers of the world have replaced, he
regrettably says, our good neighbors of the past.