Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The other "Dr. Hwang"

According to Cho Jin-seo, "Panel to Issue First Report on Hwang's Paper," reporting in the online Korea Times, we'll soon be learning the results of SNU's investigation of Hwang:
A team of scientists organized by the Seoul National University will announce as early as Thursday the outcome of its initial investigations into allegations that Prof. Hwang Woo-suk fabricated his landmark stem cell research.
Thursday. December 22. From where I sit in Seoul, that's tomorrow. Readers on the other side of the International Date Line will be momentarily confused.

I understand.

I'm still uncertain what weekday the 9/11 attacks occurred. Reports always speak of the beautiful blue sky that bright morning, but for me, the attack took place in the dark evening while I was teaching a course at Hanshin University to graduate students taking a night class.

I thus missed the immediate impact (so to speak) and only caught news reports during the aftermath, as I was putting my two-year-old son to sleep and happened to see the news reports that came on when his Pingu video went off.

This time around with the earth-shaking news, my son is old enough to notice that my wife and I have been talking about a certain "Dr. Hwang." My nine-year-old daughter is also listening and asking lots of questions.

Why? Um . . . it's personal, sort of. Let me explain.

Korean culture has the custom of allowing the wife to maintain her maiden name, and we've followed that custom.

My wife's family name is "Hwang."

She has a doctorate.

She is "Dr. Hwang."

The other "Dr. Hwang."

My children have thus looked a bit worried to hear me talk about "the deplorable Dr. Hwang" so often that "Hwang" has come to sound as wrong as a "deplorable word" that ought to be locked away in a wardrobe somewhere.

They also feel directly affected because my wife and I gave them her family name.

They're two little Hwangs.

A name like this one can give rise to all sorts of unfortunate jokes, and I'm not above making one or two myself.

Suppose that Sa-Rah hits En-Uk and I reprimand her, only to hear "He hit me first!"

I can retort: "Two Hwangs don't make a right!"

Okay, that's a pretty lame joke, but I should be excused because I've been traumatised by "Horace" -- a name making me the butt-end of all sorts of "butt" jokes.

No, I won't tell you any of those jokes, but merely leave guessing them as a distraction for earnest readers, who can post their guesses and variations in the comments section to this blog entry.

I should add that my wife's family -- so far as anyone knows (and that includes God) -- has no family connection to that deplorable Dr. Hwang.

Not for the past few weeks anyway . . .


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