Chuseok: A time of year when most Mrs. Kims are spending hours or days chopping vegetables, frying Korean pancakes, and maybe even making rice cakes–such harrowing work that some buy these fake casts to avoid it–while many Mr. Kims are relaxing in front of a TV or busy with a soju bottle.

Spicy rice cakes (떡볶이) at a local Korean restaurant.
Spicy rice cakes (떡볶이) at a local Korean restaurant.

This is my last Chuseok as a not-actually-Mrs.-Kim and my first Chuseok as a soon-to-be-Mrs. Kim. And anyway, I’m lucky: My soon-to-be mother-in-law is really chill about everything except maybe church attendance, and besides, I live in America now, where we can pick and choose which traditions to observe. Once we have a few Junior Kims crawling around, I imagine we’ll get traditional, if only to photograph them looking super cute in hanbok, but for now, we contented ourselves with an hour at the Center for Korean Studies’ Chuseok party, a trip to a Korean restaurant and a video call to the parents(-in-law).

Awkwardly showing off my first-ever songpyeon.
Awkwardly showing off my songpyeon.

I did, however, engage in one Chuseok tradition: I made songpyeon, the rice cake traditionally served at Chuseok. At the CKS party, they had some glutinous rice dough and some filling made of (I guess) crushed-up nuts, etc. To make songpyeon, you formed the dough into a ball, made an indentation into the center, spooned some of the nut mixture in, and folded the dough over and around it, then shaped it into a crescent moon. See? Look at my songpyeon! Mr. Kim also made a songpyeon, but it was really sad-looking, and he wouldn’t let me take a picture, boo.

Unfortunately, both our pieces of songpyeon got squished in my purse shortly afterwards, but, as one facebook friend commented on my photo, at least I’m now a 훌륭한 며느리–a commendable daughter-in-law–and maybe a 훈련된 (well-trained) daughter-in-law, too!

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