Friday, March 2, 2012

Chestnut Street Seller

Going through my collection of pictures, I found this priceless one. It's not very often that we see street sellers with barrel "ovens" anymore. The street stalls have become more modernized and the government has regulated the carts to be uniform in size and appearance. Somehow this old man has slipped through the works.

This picture was taken two years ago but this winter I passed him several times still selling roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and corn ears with his barrel "oven". He even still sells in the same place, and while he remains pretty much the same, the street environment he sells in has changed. For one, the phone booths have long since disappeared. What's their use if everyone (97% of Koreans) has a cell phone?

A comment about this man's language. He greets everyone, old and young, male and female, business-suited and otherwise alike. That is, everyone pretty much gets called out to in the very informal "반대말 (sp?)" verb. His greeting to the masses is, "안영", kind of like saying "hey" as a greeting. I asked some embarrassed students about this and they said that people of his age and from the working class never learned to use 'polite' language. I actually wonder if it's that simple, or if it's his way of not being looked down upon based on his uneducated perhaps farmer 'class. Some old people had a very tough life and now that they're old in this muted Confucian society, they don't want to be sneered at because of the old age that used to get unconditional respect but no longer does. I'm thinking there are many reasons why he doesn't use the polite verb forms, but even I, foreigner that I am, feel slightly offended by him when he uses 반대말 to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment