Sunday, May 17, 2020

Su go ha se yo

Novelist Min Jin Lee (Pachinko 2017) shares a moving personal anecdote about venturing into a Korean restaurant in Manhattan for jajangmyeon during the pandemic. These black bean sauce noodles, which originate in Northern China, happen to be one of this blogger's favorite comfort food dishes. They are the kind of food that I miss, and the she misses, while forgoing restaurants under shelter. Lee describes her transaction from behind a plastic counter mask, masked and gloved, and her heartfelt attempt to convey her appreciation for the woman's labor in this way:

"The Korean woman in the apron handed me the paper bag and stepped back.

We bowed to each other, the way we might have at a Korean church.

“Su go ha se yo,” I said, which translates to “Keep up your hard work,” but that isn’t it exactly. The phrase is a kindness, meaning, I recognize you’re making an effort, and I encourage you to bear up, and it also means, I admire your labor.

My city is five boroughs, and each borough has many neighborhoods, and each neighborhood is made up of numerous blocks, and on each block, there are businesses, and in each one, there is a counter, and that’s where you and I meet.

I hope when we can take off our masks, I get to tell you how much I need you."


Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink


Post a comment