중앙데일리

Small bows with a special meaning

Part of traditional funeral custom practiced by Korean people

July 11,2004
Here’s this week’s tip on Korean language and customs:

Q:
I was going through the text messages in my Korean mobile phone and found one containing an odd-looking icon that resembled a bow tie. It was part of a mass message mourning the death of the young Korean hostage in Iraq.

I thought nothing of the spam message, until I saw a small group of Koreans in the street wearing tiny bows on their business suits; they were getting on a funeral bus decorated with wreaths and black Chinese characters.

Any connections?

A:
The small bow, or mourning pin, is a traditional funeral custom in Korea.

When a member of one’s family dies, there is an official mourning period that lasts anywhere from 40 to 60 days after the funeral, depending on whether the family observes Confucian or Buddhist traditions. It is during this period that immediate family members and relatives don traditional funeral garb.

Males wear hanbok made with undyed coarse linen, or simple black suits with an armband and a small bow at the chest. Females wear cotton or polyester-based black or white hanbok with a tiny white bow in the hair.


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