Two months after our arrival in South Korea, something changed. We found acceptance.
Everyday, a group of older residents in our neighbourhood gather under the parking area of our building. They prepare vegetables, indulge in an alcoholic beverage or two and enjoy one anothers company. During the first two months there was a lot of staring aimed at us from under that covered area. Sometimes the staring was a result of genuine intrigue and at other times it was filled with disdain. The latter had the power to cut right through you.
Admittedly, it was cold and the winter makes everyone a bit grumpy.
We always made an extra special effort to smile, bow and say hello. Just when I was feeling a little disheartened that my efforts to be friendly were in vain, something changed. The group began to greet us and their faces are now full of smiles when we cycle or walk by. I can’t put my finger on exactly what triggered this U-turn in communcation but I do know it coincided with the appearance of the cherry blossoms. I have a theory that everything in Korea is determined by the presence of cherry blossoms. Either this or we had passed the initiation.