Mondays With Mom #11

Today’s lunch:

Thin slices of beef battered with egg.

Cabbage, seaweed, and roots.

Jap chae with mushrooms and carrots.

Marinated beef.



When I told my parents the news this morning that Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack on Saturday, their eyes lit up. My dad said, “Oh, that’s great news!” Jumping for joy over someone’s death, anyone’s death, doesn’t rest well with me, but I can’t deny the relief and the introduction of hope I feel.

The North Koreans appeared to feel differently. They wept hysterically. They moaned and groaned publicly. The crying was over the top. I asked my parents about this display of uninhibited grief. They said it’s the culturally and politically correct thing for them to do, regardless of what they may feel inside.

Then I remembered my grandmother. I must’ve been three-years-old. I was in her house, sitting on the stairs and watching her through the railings. She stood in front of a table that displayed my grandfather’s portrait, platters of food, and a bottle of alcohol. This was the annual observance of my grandfather’s death. When neighbors arrived, my grandmother moaned and groaned very loudly. Aigo. Aigo. Aigo. She beat her chest. She behaved as if inconsolable. However, her eyes remained dry. There were no tears.

The display of grief was theatrical. She behaved accordingly, meeting the expectations of family and neighbors and dodging any shame and gossip, never mind what she really felt inside.

To the people of North Korea, I hope you are minding what you really feel inside. I hope that in the dead of night when you are all alone, you toss and turn, sleepless from this strange moment of clarity. What is this relief I feel? What is this hope I sense? Could it be possible that our dear leader was nothing but an asshole?

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Every time you post photos of your mother’s cooking, I think I’m going to drown in my pool of drool.

    • That’s a lot of drool, Eugenia. You’d better come over and eat with me some day.

  2. your writing is so delightful, clear and emotive. Thanks for sharing your blog and the insights into another culture.

    • Thank you so much for reading, Mary. Good writing is worthless if not received and read.

  3. Love love the piece. Great ending!!!!

    • I’m working on swearing more.

  4. I don’t doubt that secretly a large portion of North Koreans feel the way you sum it up. For now, cry’n is surviv’n.

    • Let those croc tears fall. I hope the North Koreans hold lots of personal secrets.

  5. Wow. That is one tasty looking meal.

    • Hey Hairee, Thanks. It was indeed tasty.

  6. croc tears indeed. They’re probably afraid of retribution if they dont show grief. How can anyone feel sorry this man passed?

    The beef jyun looks so good.

    • Looking at the news footage, I’m convinced some of them are laughing.

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