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Seol: 해피 설날.
Hyunwoo: 새해 복 많이 받으세요.
Keith: Happy New Year. Now, why are we talking about New Year’s, it’s February 6th today.
Seol: But this is the real, real New Year.

Lesson focus

Hyunwoo: Yes. 그렇죠, 한국에서는.
Seol: Most of us celebrate this New Year instead of January 1st.
Keith: Well, I don’t think most of us, I think everybody.
Hyunwoo: Everybody in Korea.
Keith: Well, actually, this is a national holiday in Korea. Right?
Hyunwoo: Yes. For three days.
Keith: This, along with 추석 are the two biggest holidays in Korea. Now, typically, it’s at least three days. Sometimes, some years, it’s four days, and some years they give you a whole week off.
Seol: This year, we have five days off.
Hyunwoo: Why?
Seol: Because we have three holidays…
Hyunwoo: Aha.
Seol: And then, Saturday and Sunday just follow.
Hyunwoo: We’re so lucky, right?
Seol: Yes. But you know what? Next year we do not have this long vacation.
Hyunwoo: What day is 설날 next year?
Seol: I don’t remember exactly, but one thing that I’m really sure is that we have just a three day vacation. Three day holiday.
Hyunwoo: That’s too bad.
Keith: Well, that’s what we’re talking about. So you don’t know what day it is, right? Because it goes by the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is different every year, So every year it’s somewhere in February, right? Sometimes, January.
Seol: Sometimes.
Keith: Yes. Very, very rarely, But most of the time in February. Sometimes, around the first or second week.
Hyunwoo: That’s right.
Keith: Yes. So this is one of the biggest holidays in Korea and what’s it called actually?
Hyunwoo: 설날
Keith: Can we break that down?
Hyunwoo: 설날
Keith: Let’s go over the pronunciation of this word really quickly.
Hyunwoo: 설날
Keith: But when a ㄹ is immediately followed by a ㄴ, that ㄴ changes to ㄹ. So here we have 설날, but in reality it’s...
Hyunwoo: 설랄
Keith: Yes. All right. So here in 설날, everybody, they go back to their 고향.
Hyunwoo: 고향.
Seol: Yes.
Hyunwoo: Hometown.
Keith: Hometown, that’s right. And most of the time, hometowns are not in Seoul for the most part. Seoul, the capital city of Korea, has about a quarter of the total population. But when 설날 hits, everybody goes back to their 고향. So last year actually, I was in Seoul, and I was like hanging out and “Hey. Let’s go out. Let’s go have some fun.” It’s like, crickets, it’s so quiet. Nobody is around. No cars, nothing is happening.
Hyunwoo: All the shops are closed.
Keith: Yes.
Seol: Yes. Totally empty. The city is totally empty.
Keith: Yes. Even the 24-hour places , 365 days a week places, that I expect to be open, they’re all closed.
Seol: Oh. So…
Keith: My neighborhood 김밥집, my neighborhood PC방. They’re all closed.
Seol: So what did you eat during that days?
Keith: I don’t even remember it.
Seol: Poor kid.
Keith: So if you’re in Korea at that time, it’s not a really good time to hang out and… Because, everybody is with their families. And everybody is with their families in?
Seol: 고향
Keith: Can we break that down?
Seol: 고향 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 고향 [natural native speed]
Keith: Hometown. Now, when you go back to your 고향, do you usually go on that day?
Hyunwoo: No. Usually, before the holiday season starts, so that you won’t get caught in the traffic, right?
Keith: But everybody does that way, right?
Hyunwoo: Yes, eventually.
Keith: National holidays, it actually starts before the actual New Year’s Day because it gives people a chance to go home before the actual 설날.
Hyunwoo: But like you said earlier, people eventually get stuck in the traffic. So for me, if I want to go to 광주 from Seoul, which is my hometown, it usually takes about four hours by bus, maximum on usual days, but in the 설날 period it takes about seven, eight hours. It even took me nine hours once.
Seol: Really?
Hyunwoo: Yes, by bus. And all the train tickets are fully booked, so I can’t get any, So 어쩔 수 없죠.
Seol: Yes, that is true. The traffic is really bad, right?
Hyunwoo: That’s right.
Keith: Well, I stayed in Seoul. I didn’t have to go anywhere, I didn’t get stuck in traffic.
Seol: But you do not have anything, you know, interesting.
Hyunwoo: You didn’t have food…
Seol: Yes. Food. Food is really important.
Keith: It’s ok. I made it alive.
Seol: Wow.
Hyunwoo: But Keith, you miss something really important.
Keith: Yes, actually I didn’t get too much. I woke up on New Year’s Day And well 설날, February whatever it was last year, and it’s kind tweet around, watch some TV… But what did you do? I woke up at like 12 o’clock. What did you do?
Seol: Woke up around six or seven.
Keith: Wow. That early?
Seol: Yes, in the morning. It’s really early.
Keith: Wow. Ok.
Seol: And then, we go to 성묘.
Keith: And what is that?
Seol: You’re going to your ancestor’s grave, So like for example, you’re going to your grandfather’s or grandmother’s grave, and then, you show your respect.
Keith: Can we break down that word?
Seol: 성묘 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 성묘 [natural native speed]
Hyunwoo: But it’s a little bit different from my family, because we got up at six or seven in the morning, too, but what we did was a little bit different. We did차례. 차례 is a ritual that you give to show respect to your ancestors, and we prepare all of this delicious food, and we bow twice, and we talk to each other for about 30 minutes, and we also pour some alcohol on the table, and imagine our ancestors are visiting.
Keith: So are you actually talking with your ancestors?
Hyunwoo: Not really. I’m talking to my father, I’m talking to my grandmother. But we don’t really believe that our ancestors are visiting us, but it’s a tradition. So after that’s finished, we have breakfast, and then, we go to 성묘.
Seol: Ok. Maybe the way of, you know, doing that might be different, but, yes, we show respect to our ancestors. That’s the point.
Keith: Yes, our ancestors of past. And this goes for our grandparents. Sometimes, this goes for our great grandparents as well.
Seol: Yes. All those past ancestors are, you know, the subject of respect. So when you have your rituals at your home, you have great, great food, like a lot of, like various kinds of food. So you just carry fruits, some rice cake and 부침개. That kind of food is enough for eat, you know, for us, at rituals.
Keith: All right. So as we’re talking about food, after we go to the graves, after we do all this for our ancestors, we respect them, we give them… What do we do now? What are we eating? What’s for breakfast?
Seol: 떡국.
Hyunwoo: 떡국.
Keith: Can we break down that word?
Seol: 떡국 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 떡국 [natural native speed]
Keith: And actually, this can be broken down a little further?
Seol: 떡.
Keith: Rice cake.
Seol: 국.
Keith: Soup. Rice cake soup.
Hyunwoo: And usually, 떡국 is not just food. It’s something that symbolizes getting one year older. Right?
Seol: 아, 그래서 한국어로는 “떡국을 한 그릇 더 먹었다.”라고 하면 나이를 한 살 더 먹었다 하고 똑같은 뜻이 돼요.
Hyunwoo: 떡국 is not just normal food. It means you get one year older, right?
Seol: 맞아요. 그래서 떡국을 먹다라는 표현은 나이를 한 살 더 먹다라는 표현하고 같아요.
Keith: So I ate 떡국, that means also I also gained a year.
Seol: 맞아요.
Keith: So do you not like New Year’s?
Seol: 어...뉴이어도 좋고 세뱃돈도 좋아요. 그렇지만 떡국은 별로...
Keith: Ok. Well, that’s what we are going over next. What’s our next word?
Seol: 세뱃돈.
Keith: Can we break that down?
Seol: 세배, 돈.
Keith: New Year’s money. Now, this is everybody’s favorite part of New Year’s, right?
Hyunwoo: That’s right.
Keith: Unless, you’re the one giving the money, right? Unless you’re the parents you got to… Well, what happens on New Years? What goes on?
Hyunwoo: We do 세배 to our parents and our relatives.
Keith: Actually, can we break down that word, too?
Hyunwoo: 세배.
Keith: Bow.
Hyunwoo: 세배 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 세배 [natural native speed]
Not just a bow, but it’s a special kind of bow that you do only on 설날.
Keith: And there’s actually a certain technique to this as well, right?
Hyunwoo: That’s right.
Keith: I didn’t know about this, actually, but I… You told me about it.
Hyunwoo: Yes.
Keith: And there’s actually a certain technique to this, but I didn’t really know, because I just learned from watching, but no one actually taught me. But can you explain a little bit about what this technique is?
Hyunwoo: Yes. The first step is you put your hands together, so that the end of your fingers can meet, and you make a triangle with your arms, and your palms touch the ground first, and then, you bow, so that your knees can touch the ground, as well, and then, you slightly touch with your forehead the back of your hands. So that’s complicated, right?
Keith: It’s a little complicated.
Hyunwoo: Yes.
Keith: Is it different for girls?
Hyunwoo: It’s different for girls.
Seol: It’s totally different.
Hyunwoo: Sol, can you explain it to us?
Seol: No, I cannot. But I’ll show you later.
Keith: Well, actually, we’ll going to have a video to accompany this culture class, just like our 회식 video. It’s just going to be a really simple video that we’re going to put out there to show you how to do some of these things that we’re talking about today. Ok. So we did our bows. Who do we do our bows to?
Seol: To grandparents, parents and relatives, like aunts and uncles.
Keith: Yes. And since you have to deal to everybody around, like at least your parent’s level, and above, if you have a big family, you’re in trouble. It takes a long time.
Hyunwoo: But you have compensation coming.
Seol: 세뱃돈. So the order of bowing is like: we bow to our grandparents first, and then we bow to our, you know, the oldest uncles and aunts… And then we go to our parents. So if my father is the first son, he gets the bowing first, but if he’s the last son, he gets the last bowing.
Keith: Yes. And actually they kind of group themselves, too, sometimes. Right? So you don’t have to go to every single individual.
Hyunwoo: That’s right. Usually, married couples, like my parents, get my bow together. Actually, my parents get the bows from me and my sisters at the same time.
Keith: Right. When we bow, I bow with my sisters as well. All right. So we bowed…
Seol: Get 세뱃돈.
Hyunwoo: Yes, don’t go away. Wait there.
Keith: Yes. You can’t wait to talk about this, huh? All right. So we get 세뱃돈 and that’s “New Year’s Money”. Everybody gives it to the kids.
Seol: Yes.
Hyunwoo: But not only kids. I’m not a kid anymore, but I still get 세뱃돈 from my relatives.
Seol: Me too.
Keith: So at what age do you stop getting 세뱃돈?
Hyunwoo: Once you’re married and have your own family, maybe.
Keith: What age do you start giving 세뱃돈?
Hyunwoo: That depends, but I haven’t started giving my 세뱃돈 to my nephews and nieces, yet. I’m 27 years old now, So I think maybe in a few years. Once you’re over 30 and you get married, and you’re old enough to get, you know…
Keith: When you have the money.
Hyunwoo: Yes. When you’re considered independent.
Keith: Ok. So if you’re still a student, going to grad school, still taking the little money from your Dad, not ready to give money yet. Not ready to give 세뱃돈 yet. All right. So 세뱃돈 around how much do you guys get? I think it’s different for every family, too. Right?
Seol: Right, right. My family is really big, so…
Hyunwoo: How big?
Seol: I think I have more than 20 cousins.
Hyunwoo: Wow.
Seol: So they have problems giving money to us. So it’s about 10,000 won, usually, but if there’s some kind of special occasion, like you’re going to a University, you just got your job, then you get, you know, five times more than other people.
Hyunwoo: Wow.
Keith: You know what really makes me angry?
Seol: What?
Hyunwoo: What?
Keith: When I go to my grandmother’s house and we do 설날, we do 세배. And you know, I get maybe around 10 dollars, 15 dollars, 20 dollars. But the babies, they’ll get like 50 dollars. Like a hundred dollars. I don’t get that. They can’t even talk. What are they going to do with 50 dollars? Give it to me.
Seol: The money goes to their parents.
Keith: Yes. I know. But I think I need money, too. Right?
Seol: Yes, sometimes, it happens.
Keith: Seol, in my family it happens every year.
Hyunwoo: So on our usual 설날, I usually end up bowing to ten people, so…
Seol: Just ten people?
Hyunwoo: Not that many, but my parents, my grandmother and my aunt, uncle. So around ten people.
Seol: In my case, it’s around 30.
Hyunwoo: 30?
Seol: Yes.
Hyunwoo: So what was the most amount of 세뱃돈?
Seol: I don’t remember exactly, but it was about 50만원, 60만원.
Hyunwoo: Wow. That’s a lot.
Keith: 600,000 won?
Seol: About.
Keith: Wow.
Hyunwoo: That’s a lot.
Keith: Well, as you can tell, we’re all still kids over here, because we’re talking about 세뱃돈 like it’s no tomorrow. Like 세뱃돈, How much did you get today? How much did you get?
Seol: That’s the biggest issue.
Keith: Yes, yes. Well, when you go to school, right, it’s like: “Oh Hey. How much did you get this year?” “Oh how much did you get?”
Seol: Right, right.
Keith: And it is like: “Oh, man. He got the most. Sorry. Dinner is on you today.” All right. So usually, 세배 takes place in the afternoon?
Hyunwoo: In the morning.
Keith: Ok. So what happens until dinner?
Hyunwoo: Like I said, in our family, we go to 성묘, and we come back, and we get together with some of the relatives, and play 윷놀이.
Seol: Yes. 윷놀이. That’s one of the most important parts of 설날.
Keith: Can we break down that word?
Hyunwoo: 윷놀이 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 윷놀이 [natural native speed]
Keith: It’s a traditional Korean game.
Hyunwoo: Yes. Playing with 윷.
Keith: Four sticks.
Hyunwoo: Yes. And we call the four sticks 윷.
Keith: Yes. Well, I don’t know how to play exactly, but can you explain the game a little bit?
Hyunwoo: It’s too complicated.
Keith: It’s complicated? Well, ok. Ok. Well, in my family instead of 윷놀이, they play 고스톱.
Seol: Ok.
Keith: All the… All my uncles. And 고스톱 is like a…
Hyunwoo: Gambling game?
Keith: Yes. It’s a gambling game, but maybe my family is on the edge a little bit. All right. So we have 윷놀이. Do you play often like hours, and hours, and hours or what’s it…
Hyunwoo: About three or four hours.
Seol: Yes.
Keith: Really? You play that long?
Hyunwoo: Yes.
Keith: And it’s fun.
Hyunwoo: It’s a lot of fun. And you sometimes gamble with 윷놀이, too.
Seol: So if you win, the losing team will pay for everything like, you know… Because our family does not play 고스톱, we play 윷놀이 for about like three or four hours. When it finishes, it’s becomes about 9 or 10 o’clock, and then they go outside to drink beer, and to shoot pool, and sometimes to go to 노래방.
Keith: So instead of a one-day event, this is like a whole weekend event with your extended family. And as we may not have mentioned before, probably guessed but instead of just gathering with your immediate family, you gather with your extended family.
Keith: You all, generally speaking, gather under the same roof. So we have 윷놀이. And that’s our traditional Korean game. What’s the traditional Korean clothes?
Seol: 한복.
Keith: Can we break that down?
Seol: 한복 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 한복 [natural native speed]
Keith: And I don’t know if the listeners have ever seen 한복, but it’s really bright.
Hyunwoo: Yes. Very bright in color, like 한복 uses so many different colors…
Seol: And they use a lot of vivid colors like yellow, which is really yellow, red, green.
Keith: Well, I think that really represents a lot about Korean culture. Korean culture is really bright and vivid, and strong and vibrant.
Hyunwoo: Yes.
Keith: And that goes for Korean clothes. But do people wear 한복 on 설날?
Seol: They have to, but no, no. I don’t think they wear 한복 on 설날.
Hyunwoo: Yes. Not everybody. It’s usually kids who their parents want them to experience the traditional culture. They get to wear some 한복. The last time I wore 한복 was when I was in kindergarten.
Seol: But my grandparents always wore 한복. They’re the only people, you know, who wore 한복.
Hyunwoo: In your family?
Seol: Yes.
Hyunwoo: Oh.
Keith: I think one of the reasons why people stop wearing 한복 is because it takes a long time to put on. Right?
Hyunwoo: That’s right.
Keith: It’s like a lot of layers, you got to tie it over here, you got to tie it over here. I think it takes about like 10-15 minutes almost, sometimes. Right? Yes, but same thing with me. Last time I wore 한복 was maybe when I was like seven years old or eight years old. But yes, having that experience under my belt, it really, really gave me a greater appreciation of 한복. Ok. Well, in our video, Seol, you’re going to wear a 한복, right? Actually, you probably don’t even have a 한복, right?
Seol: No, no.
Keith: All right. Well, check our video today. Remember to stop by Koreanclass101.com. We’re going to have a video there showing you how to do some of the bows and also what you do when you receive money. What do you do when you receive 세뱃돈? How do you receive it?
Hyunwoo: Of course, you have to receive it with two hands. Two polite hands.
Keith: That’s right. If you missed our “Dining Out with the Boss” culture class, our culture class on company dinners, we had a whole series on pouring with two hands, receiving with two hands. And here’s same thing. Receiving money with two hands. Now, here’s the million dollars question. Who’s going to be the one giving the money? I vote for Seol.
Seol: No. No.
Keith: Ok.
Hyunwoo: Let’s see what happens.
Keith: Ok. All right. So remember to check out our video And before we go, we have to cover one more very important thing.
Seol: 새해 복 많이 받으세요, the greeting.
Keith: Yes. That’s right. Can we break down that phrase?
Seol: 새해 복 많이 받으세요.
Keith: All right. Let’s break it down real quick just to let the listeners know what’s going on. What’s the first word?
Seol: 새해
Keith: New Year
Seol: 복
Keith: Luck
Seol: 많이
Keith: A lot
Seol: 받으세요.
Keith: Receive. “Please, receive a lot of luck in the New Year.” And you hear this phrase starting when?
Hyunwoo: Starting on the 1st of January…
Keith: Around that time, right?
Hyunwoo: Until February, somewhere.
Keith: Well, that’s the thing. Korea uses the solar calendar for most things, but in terms of holidays, they use the lunar calendar. So there’s that time in between the solar New Year and the lunar New Year. So in between that time, most of the time, you’ll probably hear 새해 복 많이 받으세요. Let’s go over a couple of phrases that we say when we bow or when we just meet our relatives or even to the 김밥 lady, the 김밥 아줌마. Right? The PC방 아저씨. Just anybody you see on the street you want to wish them a Happy New Year.
Hyunwoo: Oh. You’re so nice to everyone.
Keith: Well, I went to the 김밥집 a lot. All right. So what’s the most important phrase?
Seol: 새해 복 많이 받으세요.
Keith: Please receive a lot of new luck.
Hyunwoo: And on top of that, we also say 건강하세요.
Keith: Please be healthy.
Seol: 돈도 많이 버세요.
Keith: Please earn a lot of money. Why would we say that, though?
Seol: Because money is really important. You need it.
Hyunwoo: Yes. You want them to be happy.
Keith: Ok.
Hyunwoo: And for students, you can say 공부 열심히 해라. Right?
Keith: Study hard?
Hyunwoo: Yes.
Seol: 그리고 하는 일 마다 모두 잘 되세요.
Keith: So “Whatever you do, I hope it turns out well.”
Hyunwoo: 올해는 결혼해라.
Keith: Do you hear this one?
Hyunwoo: I have been told that myself, but I hear people saying that a lot.
Keith: That means this year you get married.
Hyunwoo: Yes.
Seol: But you know what, according to a survey, “Get married.” “결혼해라.” is the last thing that you want to hear from your relatives on 설날?
Hyunwoo: Really? Is it according to a survey or is it you?
Seol: Oh. I don’t know. But yes, it is. So be careful when you say that.
Hyunwoo: Ok.


Keith: All right. Well, maybe our listeners, if you’re not married, yet? No, we’re not doing that greeting. Ok. All right. So let’s finish it up with something nice for our listeners.
Seol: 2008년에는 다들 건강하시고
Hyunwoo: 하는 일마다 다 잘 되시고
Keith: 그리고 한국어를 열심히 공부하세요.
Seol, Keith and Hyunwoo: 새해 복 많이 받으세요.