Enough of that Just Make the Sign of the Cross solution to our traffic problem. There’s a more serious ritual hand motion that needs our immediate attention: the mysterious V sign of our good friends, the Koreans.

I said urgent because a lot of Cebuanos, especially those hanging out in bars, are starting to suffer cranial pains from figuring out what cosmic force makes Koreans do the V sign whenever they find themselves within a 50-kilometer radius of a camera. You see, understanding Koreans is the key to our survival as protectors of Linking Verbs and Adjectives in this part of Asia.

To spare you the trouble of unlocking the mystery yourself, I did an extensive research on the topic using the demanding methodology of click-searching the words “Koreans,” “V sign” and “Annoying.” I focused my research on three questions: 1) Why do Koreans flash the V sign whenever they have their pictures taken? 2) Why do they do it? 3) Why, why, why?

First to pop up in my computer screen is Wik I. Pe Dia, a name of Korean descent so this must be a reliable source. Wik said the V sign “is a hand gesture in which the first and second fingers are raised and parted, while the remaining fingers are clenched, palm facing outwards. Originally considered a “Victory” sign, it also is used to mean ‘peace,’ a meaning that became popular in the United States during the peace movement of the 1960s.”

Wik was so generous as to show me an article entitled, “Asia and the V Sign in Photographs.” Wik wrote that the V sign in Asian photographs was popularized not by a Korean but by a Japanese figure skater who fell during a competition at the 1972 Winter Olympics but continued to smile even as she sat on the ice with a sore butt. Later, she was seen flashing the V sign in the Japanese media. It was an international sports event, so definitely there were Koreans around. Wik said he’s not sure.

In any case, this early in my research, we can already see the Koreans as a people of goodwill who brought peace to any wine shop their pursuit of grammar had taken them. But another question crops up. If they mean goodwill, what’s with the attire? A friend of mine theorized that the V sign is meant to steal our attention from the real purpose of our foreigner friends’ coming here: invasion through neo-colored, multi-layered fashion.

See those local girls wearing orange jacket over green shirt over pink blouse over violet tank top over red bra paired with yellow skirt over checkered knee pants over black underwear? The invasion in full swing.

Next to pop up in my screen are hundreds of URLs dedicated to understanding the V mystery. A dozen American websites said the V mystery is not just a Korean thing, but an Asian phenomenon, supporting Wik’s article about the V sign as an Oriental force of habit. But I disagree. We Filipinos don’t do the V sign when we have our pictures taken, do we? We have our own Rabbit Ears and the Pogi Boy

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hand motions to keep us busy.

As you see by now, my research has failed to enlighten us in our understanding the V mystery. And as if to taunt me for my failure, a group of Koreans arrived in a bar I was hanging out last night. One of them approached me and asked if I could take their picture. I obliged, and as I clicked the camera, my bubbly subjects flashed the damn thing and screamed, “Eeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”

(sun.star cebu, january 5, 2008)