Friends After Thirty Years

“Mother, when you and Father speak, you use banmal.”

Over breakfast, Mother nodded. “Yes.”

“But on Korean dramas, and in books, the man speaks banmal and the woman speaks jondaemal.” (Banmal is the common/familiar form of Korean, and jondaemal is a more polite form of speech.)

Mother smiled. “When we were first married, I spoke jondaemal, but we have been married thirty years now! So I decided a few years ago that we are friends, and I started speaking banmal. When I did, Father got angry. He said, ‘Why are you speaking banmal to me? Are we friends?’ I said, ‘We have been married for a long time now! Yes we are friends and I will speak banmal to you!'”

I laughed, “Mother, you are a sassy woman!”

Mother grinned and said, “A little bit.” She paused and said, “When I speak banmal with someone, I feel closer to them in my heart.”

Well, that would explain why Mother was fine with me speaking banmal to her. At the beginning of the trip, I used only jondaemal, but toward the middle of the trip, I started slipping into banmal. When I realized it, I apologized, but Mother said I was family.