In light of Mother’s Day Weekend (Parents’ Day in Korea), the NY Times Magazine featured an article about a 12-step program for Korean fathers which teaches them how to become more emotionally expressive. Through practice of steps such as saying “I love you” to one’s spouse or even learning how to hug, this program called the ‘Father School’ allows for authoritarian and stoic fathers to practice tenderness and expel taboos of emotionalism. And though I believe that there are deeper issues, both cultural and individual that need to be address beyond this program, it is a step in the right direction. Even though it may be a patch work job like a band-aid, a band-aid still works to heal the scars, maybe not deep healing but still healing nonetheless. Nicole LaPorte ends her article with this anecdote which evidences the beginning of some small changes and illustrates that a heart of stone can, indeed, melt:
But on graduation night, the mood was far more festive. For the first time, wives were invited to attend, and the men gallantly pulled out their chairs and introduced them around the room. Platters of spicy kimchi and rice were passed around the table, as a quartet of volunteers sang Korean spiritual songs set to a poppy beat. With all the attendant sincerity and awkwardness, it felt an awful lot like prom night.
Toward the end of the evening, the lights dimmed, and the students filed out of the room. Twenty minutes later, they returned carrying a small, plastic tub filled with water. They knelt down before their wives and removed their stockings and shoes. Some of the women wept as their husbands gently massaged their toes.
Over in a corner, Rhim was hunched over, drying Hanna’s feet. She wasn’t crying, but as he worked, she leaned down to rest her head on his shoulders.