Friday, 20 February 2015

My Person of The Week: The Korean Lady With A Pojang-Macha In Insadong

It's a new lunar year, and I want to start a new blog series: My Person of the Week. These will be the people who make a difference in other people's lives whether they're aware of it or not. Or people who are just helpful and always around to make everyone's day complete, safer, cleaner, happier, or just better.

A few years ago, I wrote about a blog about my 100 most influential people, as inspired by TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people. So I ask myself why wait for a year to name the 100 most influential people when I can actually give recognition to a person during a week I found one.

But if there are people who make everyone's day better, I wonder if I can name those notorious characters also 'person of the week'. Can I?  One recent character comes to mind: that spoiled brat who treated her airline staff like slaves, and not as human beings. You know who I mean, right?

Don't you sometimes stop to think about how the other people walking on the street, or riding on the same bus or train are doing? I guess that's part of being a writer; I am always interested in another person's story, stranger or not. I love listening to interesting stories, and even love writing about them. Yes, some people's stories are actually worth my keystrokes. Ha-ha-ha!

And this week, I introduce to you the Korean ajumma, or Korean lady, who sells those fried Korean delicacies at the end of the long Insa-dong alley. When most people travel to their hometowns on Seollal, she was there working at her corner eager to make a living.  She has her own pojang-macha, right next to her long table. What attracted me to her corner was her caramelized sweet potatoes. These are actually popular in the Philippines. So, after I finished my Korean barbecue that I bought from another stall, I wandered around for dessert and found it on her table!

There were actually two foreigners who also wandered into her corner, and even if her two guests couldn't speak Korean, she was able to serve their orders and was able to welcome them into her pojang-macha.

But what impressed me was, even though she was busy serving and cooking, she helped look after the baby of another Korean woman who needed to go to a toilet. The mom left her baby on a stroller next to her long table, and she engaged the baby in a conversation to keep the baby entertained while the mom was away. It was a cute scene: the baby in a stroller dressed in a hanbok was engaging the ajumma in a conversation. 

That little gesture of kindness to look after a stranger's baby may seem a little trifle to some. But to a mom, who had to desperately find a loo after walking around the whole morning with a baby, it was a big help to have someone safely watch over your child while you take a break.

That's why this Korean ajumma running a pojang-macha at the southern end of Insa-dong is My Person of the Week.

          (The person of the week with the baby in a stroller)

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