This is a story from all the way back in October, a week before Min Jae and I got married in Korea.
My parents in law wanted to introduce me to his father's side of the family. Because they live all the way in Nonsan I hadn't met them yet. The day of the meeting was also on the anniversary of Min Jae's grandmother's passing. I wore stockings and a nice vest. Making sure to look a little decent. We started our drive in the afternoon after picking up an older brother of my father in law (he is the youngest with 2 sisters and 3 brothers before him). Min Jae didn't come with us because of work.
The sunlight was absolutely gorgeous when we came close to our destination. I was surprised to stop in the middle of nowhere. I thought we must be close to the family's house but instead we went up a small hill secluded from the road behind bushes and trees. The resting place of the grandparents.
I felt a little uncomfortable taking pictures of the grave itself so I made a sketch:
Dried fish and fruit were put on the altar, drinks were poured and later poured out on the grave. We formally stood in line in front of the grave. The older brother addressed the grandparents, with my very basic Korean I could understand that at some point I was being introduced as well. After My parents in law and the older brother bowed. I made two bows and offered them a drink.
Next to the grave was a big stone. My father in law and his brother explained to me that the grandparents life was written on there. As well as all the names of the entire family .
After staying there for about twenty minutes we drove on to visit the older sister's house. It was getting pretty dark, bugs were chirping loud, rice fields were rustling. My mother in law and I talked about how we both love the noise the countryside makes.
Arriving at the sister's house we got a friendly welcome. Before meeting Min Jae's family, when I was looking up on Korean customs. I read a lot of articles about how Korean people generally are more cool and don't hug that often. This statement can be taken with a grain of salt, because I've had a couple of Min Jae's family members spontaneously give me a hug. They were all women though. While going in to give this small women a hand she pulled me close and hugged me instead. We sat in the house eating melon while the wind outside grew louder and louder. I did my usual best to try and follow the conversation.
After two hours or so we left her house to go the house of the oldest brother were the ceremony for the grandmother would be held. Arriving there I got a nice hug from the wife of the oldest brother. She is in her eighties but still works like a little lightening bolt in her kitchen. We had an abundant meal while we waited until the rest of the family arrived.
At 10 o'clock my father in law suggested we start the preparation after which the women went to the kitchen to finish up the food that was to be served to the grandparents. Meanwhile the men of the family changed into their ceremonial costume. I kinda knew what to expect as I attended Chuseok before, but I hadn't seen the traditional costumes. You can't tell from the sketch, but the hat was black and the robe palish blue. Getting ready took about 50 minutes. I know this exactly because we all waited in the room for 10 more minutes to begin the ceremony at 11. This is because the ghost hours are from 11-3. At 11 the candles were lit and incense was burned. Everybody bowed in the order from oldest to youngest. Because Min Jae was not there I bowed together with his parents. After the bowing everybody went outside so the spirits could have their meal. We came back in after 10 minutes everybody drank some of the wine that was poured. And then there was a second dinner. But I was quite full already. At around 12 we drove home, I fell asleep in the car.