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It was 1955, when Soo-mi married with Sung-su. They were both 20 years old and they have never met before until their wedding day. It was their parents’ decision to get them married. Soo-mi just saw a picture of her husband before the wedding and had no choice but to accept her parents’ decision. In old times back in the Korean customs, the parents chose their daughters’ or sons’ life partners. They had their children’s rights to choose their spouses.

The day when Soo-mi got married and became part of her husband’s family, she became a servant of her mother-in-law. The tension between Soo-mi and her mother-in-law was always serious and cold. Soo-mi had to serve for her parents-in-law, four sisters-in-law, and one brother-in-law. She did all the cooks, house chores, but Sung-su’s mother was never satisfied with Soo-mi’s work. Soo-mi was only 20 years old and her mother-in-law’s harsh complaints were too much on her. This scene is very common in Korean culture. It is always the fight between the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law. These conflicts settled down a lot after 1990’s when people started to separate from their parents’ houses. However, there is still a Korean saying that our mothers use often when others complain; “you are complaining like my mother-in-law.”

The tension between Soo-mi and her mother-in-law grew higher and higher everyday. One day, the mother-in-law was being very picky on Soo-mi’s food.

“I think the rice is not done yet. Did you do this on purpose so that your mother-in-law can’t chew?”

“No, I thought the rice was done very well. Should I make the rice again?”

“Of course! You know that I have bad teeth and can’t eat this rice!”

Soo-mi had to make a new bowl of rice with a lot of water so that her mother-in-law can’t complain about it. When Soo-mi finally served the rice to her mother-in-law, she said,

“The soup is very salty. How much salt did you put into this soup? Go make a new bowl of soup!”

So Soo-mi had to make a new bowl of soup to satisfy her mother-in-law’s taste. When Soo-mi served the soup to her mother-in-law, she said,

“The salad barely has the taste. Go make new dressing!”

Soo-mi’s mother-in-law’s complaints seemed endless. She cried while she was making new dressing for the salad. When Soo-mi finally served the new salad to her mother-in-law, she was done with her meal. Soo-mi sighed and was relieved from mother-in-law’s scolding. She cried every night, but no one was there to be on her side. No one rescued her from the harsh environment. Sung-su, her husband, couldn’t take either side and was never involved in these conflicts. Soo-mi wanted to go back to her house and see her family.
The relationship between Korean daughter-in-law and mother-in-law is similar to the relationship between American son-in-law and father-in-law. The mother of the husband thinks that the daughter-in-law took her son away from her and treats severely on her daughter-in-law.

Sung-su started his own business in a city when he was 25. Soo-mi and Sung-su moved to Dae-gu to begin their family, separated from their parents. Soo-mi was free from her mother-in-law and became independent. Since 1990’s, not so long ago, people started to be independent from their parents and lived separately. Before 1990’s, it was normal for women to suffer from their mother-in-law’s complains until they pass away. In Korea, people still go visit their husband’s side first on special holidays like Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. It is tradition for women to go to their husband’s house and serve meals and ceremonies few times a year.

Peer Response:

Cole: Hey julia, I tought you story waas great, i think it was one of the better stories I've read about sticking to it and having to put up with people in your lives who just keep you from doing what you want. i didnt find any punctuation mistakes so i thought that was good. THe only thing that would be good is to put your personal info on your page, i would like to know more about you. Anyway, i liked you story a lot and it kept me reading and entertained.

1. On the level of story-telling: if you were the King (or the aliens), would you allow this story-teller to live another day? If no,why not?
(ms reponse) yes, b/c it gave good information
yes, I really like the story idea, but i think that you could make the story better by adding more details about the setting and each character using some similies, and metaphores

2. Think of plot—is it original? (If an adaptation, is it creative or interesting to you?)
(ms) it was interesting b/c it had good information about the way life was for her.
the plot was deffinatly original, and revealed alot about the life of a Korean wife

3. Think about conflict. Does the story have a natural conflict? Are there complications that add enough suspense, tension, or interest? Is there a climax that satisfies you? Is the resolution satisfying? What could be added or changed?(ms) yes, yes, yes when the daughter re cooks the food,yes it was a good happy ending, add more conflicts
there was conflict, but no that much suspension, but deffinialy some tension. the resolution could be better with more excitment, something more to draw the reader in.

4. Think of characterization—are the characters realistic? Individual? Do we get a good sense of character from many of these: description, dialogue, narrator's opinion, discussion from other characters, the character’s own actions? (ms) yes, it showed how disrespectful the mother is to her and how clueless the husband is.
there was some detail about the characters, and it was more, but there could be more

5. Think of word choice, imagery, and details. Do they help you see and hear and experience the story? Do any word choices need changing?
(ms)it helped me think about the setting and it alos helped b/c it made me realate to the story.
i could somewhat imagin the story going on in my head, but (as i said before), you could add more details

6. On the level of "culture"--what do you think this writer is trying to reveal about the culture he/she lives in? Summarize what this story tells/shows about its culture in a sentence or two.(ms) yes, b/c she had back ground information about the culture. a woman forced into marriage, by family an into a worse family that treats her with dis respect an soon leaves that place to start up a life with her husband...
the story reveals that in the Korean culture, a person really has no say in their marrige, they are given a husband or wife, and they are to marry them, no matter who they love or don't love, and for a wife, once they are married, they are a slave to the family they married into, haivng to do everything they say, and take the criticism without any complaint.

7. Does this revelation of culture possess much insight or show you something unique? Do you get a picture of cultural practices? Of gender roles, love relationships, family roles, habits, religious practices, beliefs, food, social expectations, etc.? Should anything be thrown out? Added? yes, mostly, it show how cruel people can be.
this story really reveals alot about a typical Korean family, giving me a better understanding of the life of a woman

8. What areas of the story need the most improvement?
maybe more conficts
details, and conflicts

9. Summarize the theme of the story in a sentence or two. Don't just summarize the story, or say what its topic is--that's not theme. "Theme" is what the story reveals about the topic. So put your theme statement in this sort of pattern: "This story reveals that (topic) is (message about the topic)." Do your best here. You'll show the writer what his/her story DOES say, as opposed to what the writer WANTS it to say.
good things come to those that wait...
with the Korean culture, if you are a woman, in marrige, your family loses a daughter, while your husband's family gains a slave.