Articles From the March 1995 Unification News


Dormitory News

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year's Day, which is one of the most important national holidays in Korea, fell on January 31 this year. In Korean, it is called Solnal. Traditionally, it is a time when people reaffirm family ties and seasonal customs are revived .For all intents and purposes all businesses close down and many people return to their hometowns. Seoul's streets are quiet because a quarter of the population makes the mass exodus that floods the nation's roads with more than 10 million people at the same time.

Korea, when it was a traditional agricultural society, used to celebrate the Lunar New Year for the whole of the first lunar month, because it happened to be a period when there was no farming to be done. With the advent of an industrial society, however, it has become a three-day holiday.

On New Year's Day, the time-honored traditions of showing respect to ancestors and the elderly are performed throughout the country. The morning begins with a ch'arye, a rite showing respect to one's ancestors. The family gathers at the house of the family and exchanges news in a friendly atmosphere. Then a bowl of rice-cake soup and other delicacies are placed on a table and offered to the spirits of the ancestors. After the ceremony, younger members of the family perform an elaborate deep bow, known as sebae, to their elders, who wish them good luck and give them money. Then the family shares the food that was offered to the ancestors.

Afterwards, visits are paid to relatives and elders to show respect. Later, games are played. Women jump on seesaws, men fly kites, children keep a streamered object in the air and spin tops, and just about everyone plays yut. The purpose of these games is not winning but rather promoting a sense of community and cooperation.

This year all the GOP and PREP students, plus some of the Japanese students who were still in Korea, went to the Ponderosa restaurant to eat a very nice American-style buffet. After eating all that we could eat, we returned to the dorm. All said and done, it was a very enjoyable and relaxing day before our return to school.


by Fuyuka Nakano-Seoul, Korea

I was spending my winter vacation at home in Hyogoken, Japan, when the earthquake struck us on the morning of January 17, at 5:47 a.m. A thousand people died in my neighborhood of Nishinomiya. I had been planning to get a job with my friend for the holidays because my brother and sisters were going to school, but at 5:47 everything changed.

When it started shaking I was sleeping, as was my brother and younger sister. My mom was praying and my older sister was getting ready for school. (My dad was in Nagoya.) Within seconds almost everything fell down in our house. I thought I was going to die. Our house was devastated, with big cracks running through it, but it didn't fall down.

The first day we stayed in the school playground because we were worried about after shocks. We called our dad and relatives to let them know we were safe and mum cleaned the house. We were in great shock and I tried not to show it but it was difficult. I was very shaky. My younger sister told me she wished this were all a dream and I agreed with her. She started crying at one point because she was so scared. The first night we slept out with hundreds of other families, staying warm under 5 blankets. The next day we met a family who invited us to their apartment, which was free from damage. I watched earthquake developments on TV all day and slept with the light on. By the third day our dad came to see us. He brought with him a lot of moral support and some goodies to eat. We learned that a couple of church members had lost their parents and also 1 or 2 church members had died. Some of my brother's friends died and my mum lost some friends, too. We returned home because electricity was restored but we decided to sleep in the living room as there is nothing in there to fall on us should another earthquake occur.

Although the quake lasted only 20 seconds, it really brought about big changes everywhere. I realized that all the things we spend money on don't mean anything in the end. We were happy to escape with our lives. I learned it's important to have good relationships with your neighbors. Until the earthquake occurred, I never even spoke with them, but afterwards we really got to know each other and helped each other a lot. We would greet and talk to any stranger we saw on the streets because we knew they needed support. The elderly especially appreciated us helping them.

Not only our family but our members were protected by the spirit world. If my sister, for example, had been in bed, she would have been flattened by a glass case which smashed into her pillow. If she had been eating breakfast, the dish rack would have fallen on her. Fortunately she was drying her hair and just got stuck between the bed and the closet. I was protected too. Above my bed is a bookshelf and across from my bed is a closet, none of which fell on me. Our stories are typical of many. I feel I owe Heavenly Father a lot. During those few days of the quake I cam to realize the preciousness of life and was clearly reminded of that old, and oft-forgot saying, "It's the heart that counts."

I want to share this story with many people and I hope that they can learn the same lessons as we did, but without the earthquake.

Reprinted from The Western Program's Dormitory News.


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