Given the fact that my husband is a carpenter who builds homes for a living, I lament the ubiquitous nature of these towering concrete apartment buildings in Korea. Nevertheless, my husband and I also live in one of these–but just until we can save enough money to build our own dream home out of wood. In the meantime, I am frequently confronted with scenes like the one above: a new neighbor is moving in! But in Korea, moving companies will basically bring their own elevator!
Moving companies will not only haul all your stuff in their vans, they will basically bring their own crane to move your stuff via a platform that slides up and down the shaft through the apartment’s window. On the plus side, tenants are spared having the elevator basically commandeered by the moving company for hours on end. The down side? It’s incredibly loud and scares the bejeezus out of my dog, Webby. The way her hackles go up all along her spine makes her look like a stegosaurus!
Anyway, we’ll assume that the new neighbors quickly managed to get their belongings into their new abode. What, you may wonder, do Koreans do for housewarmings? Well, instead of the customary plant or cooked/baked item we often do in the US, Koreans will most often turn to one of two popular gift choices: toilet paper, or detergents/soaps.
Are Koreans just pragmatic, or is there something more to the highly functional gifts? Indeed, there is something more! As any cat/dog owner who has had the misfortune of having their pet paw endlessly at a roll of tp will tell you, toilet paper rolls are l-o-n-g! Thus, toilet paper represents longevity–and a gift of tp is a toast for a long life for the recipient! As for the laundry/dishwashing detergent and soap, these all produce lots of bubbles. Bubbles symbolize wealth and prosperity, as well as the sender’s warm wishes for your future security.
So, bring on the Tide and Charmin!