One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” –Henry Miller

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

h"A" Girls! Let's hear it!

My blood  type is A. I realize that this is of no real importance to anyone reading this, but to Koreans a person's blood type gives insight to their personality. It's one of a few unique questions that I've gotten on occasion here. Supposedly it's like someone asking you what your sign is in the States. I, personally, place about the same weight on the relevance of both.. that being, very little.

When I told the ladies at my lunch circle that I'm blood type A they all nodded in unison. I desperately looked to Jella, my main co-teacher (and life line here), for some sort of translation. "It's good for women to be blood type A," she said.  Natually, I asked her what A meant about my personality. All she could really tell me clearly was that a person with blood type A was usually timid. hmmm..  Tell me again why this is a good blood type for women in Korea??

So for kicks, I looked a little more into this blood type thing. The relevance of blood types came to Korea from Japan and took off. So here it is:
Blood Type A:
Positive Traits: Conservative, introverted, reserved, patient, punctual and inclined to be perfectionists.
Worst Traits: Obsessive, stubborn, self conscious and uptight.
Referred as ‘farmers’ in some descriptions, Type A’s are said to be considerate of others and loyal to a fault. They can also be secretive and reluctant to share their feelings.

I could say, "yep that's me" to about half of them and in the same breath I could say that some of those in no way resemble me. (i.e. punctual.. perfectionist.. hah!)  It reminded me a lot of reading my horoscope.  Its so broad that parts of this personality catalog could describe my dog, Ben. He's a little introverted and obsessive. (We have affectionately termed his reaction to human contact as the "Ben Bunge".. which is a made up term that refers to how he hunches in cowardice with his butt in the air. No, we've never beat our dog. He came that way).

All of this being said, back to my original question: why is A a good type for women?  Well Korea is still very much a male dominated society, which (from what I've been told) is founded in Confucianism. Confucianism might have originated in China, but Koreans have taken it and run. Briefly, Confucianism is an ideology and one pillar of that ideology is the emphasis placed on respecting a social hierarchy. Children and women are at the bottom, then men (each stratified based on education and class) and then at the top are the elderly. Koreans have a huge amount of respect for their elders.

It's unfortunate, but from my own personal observation I've seen male dominance already in my kids at the elementary school level.  You ask a question to the class and I'm willing to bet that 98-100% of the hands up are from the boys. Nearly every time.  They are shouting out the answer or jumping out of their seats, wiggling their little hands in the air, begging you to pick them. The girls: silent.  I've ignored the boys with their hands flailing in the air and picked out a girl to answer on occasion.  It shocks them. It's understood that the students with their hands raised get called on.  I have no doubt that the girls know the material. After all, of the kids that have been writing me letters, all but one of them are girls. I have one boy who writes to me. So what does this mean?  My girls don't have a voice ... and I don't know how to give them one.


  1. Male dominance is all over the world but still more in some parts of the world..but a little encouragement, exposure and ofcourse examples of women heroes would give them a kickstart to getting a voice to them!!

  2. You are giving them a voice just by telling them you want to hear from them. That's what you're doing when you call on them and answer their letters. :) Baby steps, love!