Volume 1, Number 20 January 14, 2004

Hee-Won Han Gets Hitched

1, 2, 3

One week to go: the Hahmdari
The week before the wedding, the families participated in an old Korean tradition, now updated for the 21st century, called Hahmdari. It works as follows: the family of the groom is expected to send to the bride's family a representative of the groom's wedding party (usually a Best Man equivalent). This fellow brings with him a box, or Hahm, which contains in it gifts for the Bride's family. He also brings with him a group of his friends and fellows. The Bride's family 'purchases' the Hahm by giving money to the Groom's Hahm carriers. In the far past, I assume things like oxen or horses were among the gifts the Groom would bring, and it was generally a serious event.

The Hahm Carriers arrive at Hee-Won's house

Soo Yun Kang, on the left, and Jeong Jang,
on the right, greet the Hahm Carriers,
including Hoon Lee (wearing the squid mask)

In the modern era, however, it seems like younger Koreans have adopted the Hahmdari event and turned it into an excuse to get rowdy and have a lot of fun before the wedding. The Han/Son Hahmdari gave the LPGA players and baseball stars a chance to get crazy, and if you want to preserve your impression of the lady golfers as sweet, humble and hard working, perhaps you should skip ahead to the next section of this article! Because, like everything else about this wedding, the Hahmdari events made it into print, and wild they were!

On the evening of the 13th, the Groom sent his Hahmdari party to the Bride's house in the upscale Kaepo Dong section of Seoul (south of the Han river). Acting as the 'horse', who was elected to tote the Hahm around on his back, was television personality Hoon Lee. Lee and Hyuk Son had been friends in college. For obscure reasons, they made Lee wear a squid mask on his face, perhaps to reinforce his role as the "non-human" carrier of the Hahm. Another close friend of Son's who was now a baseball player, Won Ki Hung, acted as the horse driver. Red Sox relief pitcher Byung Hyun Kim was the 'Hahm carrier', sort of the equivalent of the Best Man, although he didn't have to actually carry the box, he just had to direct the proceedings. Several other baseball stars joined them on their quest to deliver the Hahm to Hee-Won and her family.

The guys shouted and loudly whooped it up as they walked through the streets to Hee-Won's family's house. They arrived and were shown in, and were met by gaggles of Hee-Won's close friends, including LPGA players Jeong Jang and Ara Koh. As the men looked in, they remarked in a joking tone that they didn't want to give up the Hahm unless they saw 'a little dancing, perhaps some break dancing'. This instantly set the mood for the night, and the story became one of the men trying to coax the women into doing ever more outrageous things in order to convince them to give up the Hahm.

Taking up the challenge immediately were several of the ladies present, including Ara Koh and Hee-Won's cousin Hee Jin Han, who launched into a version of an old Korean standard called (loosely translated) 'Rainy Day on the Honamson Train'. After that, the atmosphere really began to heat up when Jeong Jang took her shot at prying the Hahm loose. She did a rendition of a song called 'Man is a Port and Woman is a Harbor'. Now, I don't know that song, but it certainly sounds suggestive, and she punctuated the number by wiggling her bottom in a sexy manner while she sang. The guys hooted and hollered; this was more like it! One of the men jokingly shouted, 'How can a young girl like you do a number like that!?' Despite Jang's efforts, Hoon Lee steadfastly refused to give up the Hahm.

The guys enjoyed egging the ladies on!

The party got rowdier when Soo Yun Kang
did some 'Dirty Dancing'!

As the competition became more tense, the ladies unleashed their secret weapon. Descending from the top floors where she had been hanging out, almost in slow motion, came Soo Yun Kang. "We cannot disclose all the strategies beautiful women use to seduce men" she said as she took center stage. She looked around and said that she wouldn't sing without accompaniment, then turned the stereo up slowly; the CD playing on it was a version of the pop song 'Haesongi'. This loosely translates as 'immature young girl', so I'm imagining it to be the Korean equivalent of 'Like a Virgin'. Kang turned to Lee and seductively removed her overcoat, tossing it into the corner; underneath she wore a short sleeved tight blouse. While she sang, she launched into a sexy dance, circling Lee, who by now certainly was paying attention! Lee joked that it was 'getting a bit hot!', and the baseball players all laughed. Kangsy continued the pressure, sidling up to Lee and doing a sort of 'Dirty Dance' against his body as she continued the number. She then grabbed an envelope containing cash and put it in her mouth, and waltzed up to Byung Hyun Kim. Still moving with the music, she passed the envelope from her mouth to his, to the delight of the collected group. "Giving her body to help her younger associate (Hee-Won)", Soo Yun edged the Hahm Carrier into the foyer, where she was finally able to liberate him of the Hahm, giving him a kiss on his head in the process.

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