Kimchi Knees & Polar Bear Babies

Kimchi Knees & Polar Bear Babies

The stray cat that runs around the school.
The stray cat that runs around the school.

Last Sunday, I was asked to meet and organize our volunteer delegation  at the bus terminal for Mulmangcho. Everyone, except one who was on the list made it to the bus in time and off we went. I reserved a spot early for this volunteer session as it was really popular. Instead of teaching English, we were going to help make kimchi.

November is kimchi making season in Korea. Or kimjang (김장) as it is known in Korean. Families gather together to make kimchi for the winter and well into the following year. I’ve made kimchi before, but only one or two heads of cabbage. Seeing a small mountain of cabbages basking in the sun gave me a clue of what we would be doing all afternoon.

A small mountain of cabbages.
A small mountain of cabbages.

The school’s director came out to meet us and told us what to do. I started by mixing the stuffing for the kimchi. After mixing it for about half an hour we were told to come eat an early lunch. The lunch was delicious as always and one of the volunteers had made brownies for everyone!

Volunteers mixing the stuffing for the kimchi.
Volunteers mixing the stuffing for the kimchi.

While we were sitting down for lunch two ladies brought in puppies and I jumped out of my seat to go cuddle with one. Of course, I chose the loudest one to cuddle and decided to bring the puppy back to mommy. How much must the puppy have missed its mommy? The pups are only about 3 weeks old so they are still tiny.

The cute puppies in their cage.
The cute puppies in their cage.

Back to making the kimchi, I realized that one, I wore the wrong pants, and two,

I ended up with kimchi sauce on my knees. I’m not the neatest or the most graceful person, so I wasn’t very surprised. So the joke of the day was that I would be ‘kimchi knees’ and the other girl would be, ‘kimchi thighs.’

I saw a few of the older students helping out, but  many of the younger ones were in the other building. So I didn’t get to interact much with the students this past Sunday. Regardless, of that I still was able to work in some gorgeous autumn weather with an amazing group of people. I even received a bag of kimchi to take home with me.

The puppy quieted down as soon as I snuggled with it.
The puppy quieted down as soon as I snuggled with it. (Copyright of Mulmangcho)

Right as we were about to board the little van back to the bus terminal the director came and asked if anyone wanted a cabbage. So we quickly grabbed 6 cabbages for the volunteers and headed back home. As always the day was a bit tiring, but I learned a good lesson. Sometimes waiting for the bus is actually the better option. The 9500 bus goes from my house all the way to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal. It’s always nice to end a long day being able to sit down and relax the whole way home.

Helping mixing the paste for the kimchi.
Helping mixing the paste for the kimchi.
Mulmangcho volunteers that helped make kimchi.
Mulmangcho volunteers that helped make kimchi.

I look forward to seeing my students this coming Sunday and the little polar bears. I love snuggling them and coming home smelling like dog.

The cute puppies in their cage.
The cute puppies in their cage.

I think the puppies are all spoken for now, but if I can get one from a future litter I would be so ecstatic!

A snow baby!
A snow baby!

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