I have been thinking about writing about this topic for quite some time now, but never actually brought myself to do it. But now that more than one third of the global population is under some form of lockdown, including Nepal of course, all I have is time (I’ve already run out of my stock of snacks including my secret stash of sweets). So, here’s a random post, more of a diary entry or an ITAKI post actually, but never mind, blog post it is! (If you want a purely Korean language related content, feel free to skip a few paragraphs until you find a smiley face. 🙂)

It’s DAY 14 of nationwide lockdown in Nepal. We’ve been ordered to “Stay at Home and Stay Put” for the past two weeks and that’s what we’ve been doing. We have a total of 9 positive cases of Covid 19 so far with one person already recovered and the other eight people under treatment. No deaths so far (fingers crossed). Out of the 9 positive cases, 8 had recent travel histories to affected regions and only one case of local transmission so far. Not an alarming number compared to our neighbouring countries like China (81,708 cases, So they say!) or India (4,553 cases) or other Asian countries, but all of us are convinced that it’s only a matter of time and the numbers are bound to rise, given the fact that not even 100 tests are carried out per day and we have a population of around 29.3 million.

Basically, the Government has closed our borders and shut down everything except for few essential services such as: hospitals, communication, press, transportation of essential goods, electricity, fuel distribution, drinking water & other essential based services, hotels & other basic tourism related services, waste management services, banking & insurance services, national security, and few, key construction and manufacturing based projects (upon fulfilling a long list of protocols).  We can leave our houses to go for grocery shopping for essential goods and for work, if you work in one of the earlier mentioned essential services. And that’s pretty much it!

🙂 Now, what’s that got to do with this post about 고생하셨습니다 and 수고하셨습니다? Well, I happen to work in one the “essential” service industries (Nope! Not a Doctor! Or a Nurse! Or a Health Worker! Never even dreamt of becoming one either! I always thought I’d be a teacher! 어릴때는 다른 사람들을 가르치는게 그렇게 좋아해서요!!!). Anyyy wayyyy, I have to go to work occasionally. It’s mostly work from home, but I have to go to work sometimes; mainly because I live very close to my workplace (apparently not an advantage during a lockdown, when you don’t want to go to the office, but can’t say no because you can literally walk to your work in like 10 minutes, while others have to travel from far and wide! Please ignore the TMI). So, I’ve had to go to work a couple of times for a few hours during the past two weeks, which wasn’t that bad at all, hadn’t my siblings blamed me for “trying to kill our mum”; (Btw, have you heard this Coronavirus Rhapsody song, it already has 2.4 million views on YT, lol! Things people do when stuck at home!).

So, when I go to work, I meet a dozen of co-workers who’ve had to come to work at these dire times, some of them on a daily basis (due to the nature of their job). And when we part, I really want to say 고생하셨습니다 or 수고하셨습니다 or 수고 많았습니다, because they are really doing 고생 and 수고. But I can’t, as we do not have any similar expressions or greetings in our Nepali language, that conveys what 고생하셨습니다 conveys in a single word.

고생하셨습니다 or 수고하셨습니다 are two of the most common greetings used in Korean that are used to thank someone for completing some work or making an effort. 고생 literally means “hardship” or “trouble” and 수고 also means “effort” or “trouble”; thus 고생하셨습니다 /수고하셨습니다 literally means “You went through a lot of trouble for doing (it)”,”You’ve made a lot of effort”, So, it’s like saying “Thank you for making all this effort / Thank you for completing this work / Thank you for doing a great job”. They are simple phrases, but they perfectly convey the gratitude or appreciation felt by the speaker towards the person (receiver) for the effort (simple or elaborate) made by him/her. You don’t necessarily have to be the one who ordered the person to do the job or who made the person put the effort, but you (as a third person) can simply share your appreciation for his/her effort, just because “you noticed’ by saying 고생하셨습니다 and that’s the main beauty of this greeting.

The second beauty or the second greatest thing about 고생하셨습니다 or 수고하셨습니다 is that these greetings are so naturally, culturally and historically incorporated in the daily lives of Korean people that they’re effortless just like a “Hello”. You don’t have to know the person well to say this greeting. It’s indifferent yet simple. 간단하면서도 깊은 전하는 인사죠 !

The closest thing to 고생하셨습니다 that we, the Nepalese, can say in such situations is a mere “Thank you” which is धन्यवाद in Nepali, which does not even convey a fifth of what I want to say. You can say the whole dialogue verbatim “Thank you for all your efforts or thank you for going into the trouble of doing this work …”, but it’s quite awkward in most of the situations. For instance, in this very situation, where I simply want to show my appreciation to my coworkers for coming to work during the lockdown, I cannot just go around thanking people out and about because (a) I didn’t make them come to work, hence I bear no obligation to thank them in the first place, (b) It’s none of my business and (c) 성격상 엄청 오글거리고 숙쓰러워요 meaning it’s just so out of my character to express an elaborate thank you to people I don’t know very well. In general, Nepalese people fall on the shy side, but are quite considerate and thoughtful. Although there are exceptions, we are not very expressive of our feelings to our friends, family or colleagues (We are quite similar to the Japanese in this regard). So, thanking someone using a long descriptive expression is rare, at least for me. So we really need a simple, effortless 인사 like 고생하셨습니다 or 수고하셨습니다.

This is not the first time I’ve realized the need for a greeting like 수고하셨습니다 in our daily lives. Often when we complete a major project or assignment at work as a team, or when I see a colleague put in a lot of effort for some project or simply when I see a friend or a family member struggling with something, etc., I wish I could say 고생하셨습니다 or 수고하셨습니다 or 수고 많았습니다 like in Korean.

Well, that was a random rant. Thanks for stopping by my blog at this time of global crisis. Hope this ends soon and we can all return back to our normal, boring and busy lives. By the way, being a major 집순이, staying home all this time has been quite fun actually. But, let’s hope we will soon see the day when this CCP virus curve starts flattening and dies out eventually.


(Source of the featured image)