Although it's a concept that cannot be easily explained, ‘jeong’ is a crucial aspect of Korean culture. A helpful way to picture jeong is to think of someone or something with whom/which you've been through good times and bad, that you never let go of despite the flaws.
Your relationship supersedes your feelings or emotions and it can be for a person, animal, place, or possession. Jeong is not something that can be intentionally or deliberately established, rather it is developed over a long period of time. Jeong represents a 'deep-rooted warm-heartedness and affection' that goes beyond mere attachments, be it humans, animals, places, or possessions of sentimental value. In assessing relationships, Koreans evaluate their relationship with the other by the degree and amount of jeong.
In a nutshell, it's the core of all the relationships in our culture. Some examples of jeong can be a special feeling for a person, your hometown, or even a possession you have owned for a long time. Additionally, as shown in the very first episode of the drama, Squid Game, the father's willingness to do whatever he can to get his daughter a birthday present is reflective of the jeong aspect of Korean culture.
Min Byoung-chul is an endowed chair professor at Chung-Ang University who is widely known as a multicultural educator and for his practical English teaching. This content is based on his book, “Land of Squid Game,” which can be purchased at major bookstores. -- Ed.
By Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)