My Culture

by Kelly Sung

Customs & Traditions

One of the traditions that we have is on new years, kids would dress in ceremonial Korean clothing called hanboks. Parents would be sitting in chairs while the kids would bow down to them and wish them a happy new year. In return, the parents would give the kids envelopes filled with money.

Also, on birthdays, we traditionally have a special seaweed soup for breakfast. The soup is supposed to be meant for the mothers as it's one of the first meals that they eat after childbirth, replenishing their strength. It's eaten on birthdays to remember their first meal together.

On Christmas and Thanksgiving, we would go over to our cousins house and have a party, with an entire feast that we all helped make. My cousin and I would make all different kinds of cake and desserts.


Education is taken very seriously in my family. My dad was very diligent in studying. He even had the chance to go to the number one university in all of Korea, however, he was not able to go because of the lack of money.

Another quality that we value is sincerity and honesty. Being fake will get you nowhere in life. We also always try to just be a good hearted person. If you always have good intentions, a positive mind, and an optimistic personality, you'll be able to make more out of life and enjoy it more.


As a family, we would go to a united Methodist church every Sunday, that was made up of mostly other Koreans. My mom is part of the choir, and I’m part of a praise team that plays at the sermon. As we do every summer and winter, this summer on August 5-8, our church went to a Korean-American youth group retreat at Lake Geneva. We stayed in cabins and met people from other churches. While we were staying there, the purpose was to become more involved as a christian. We had devotions and sermons every morning and afternoon that lasted two to three hours long. Before eating, we would pray our thanks, and again before bed. Every night, I would read part of the bible.


My parents have not played many instruments other than the recorder, however, my brother and I are very involved in music. We both have played the piano for more than 8 years, and we each play our individual instruments, like the saxophone, flute, guitar, drums, and ukulele.


Our family is a big fan of golf. Before leaving for work, my Dad would get up at 6 am to play a game every morning.

Every summer, we would invite friends for a big picnic, usually at Devil's lake. We'd play volleyball, badminton, soccer, swim, and joku. Joku is a mix between soccer, tennis, and volleyball. There would also be a big bonfire.

During the summer, we would always go bowling on Fridays with friends from our church. We'd play friendly, but competitive competitions, and the losing team would have to do a punishment. Punishments went from either paying for dinner, or doing 50 push ups each.

During school breaks, we'd go on at least one vacation. Every two-three years, we would take a trip to Korea for two weeks.


Our family speaks both fluent Korean and English.