Marriage in Korea

*The “Sex, Dating, and Marriage in Korea” Series*

In this post, I’ll talk about marriage in Korea. And, you can’t have a marriage without a wedding! Or, you can, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun. So, let’s start by taking a closer look at weddings in Korea.

Koreans are well-known for their traditional weddings thanks to stories like Chunyang. No, not THAT Chunyang, THIS one. But, if you haven’t seen either version of Chunyang, then take a look at THIS recap of a traditional Korean wedding that took place on We Got Married between (fake) couple Julien Kang and Yoon Seah.

An obligatory shirtless picture of Julien Kang!

Julien Kang~

Julien Kang~

… He has a great personality, too.

^^

However, Korean weddings aren’t always traditional ones where the bride and groom wear his and her hanboks. In fact, these days, it might be hard to tell the difference between Korean weddings and western ones, at least from the pictures if not the ceremony itself!

Lee Hyo Ri's wedding~

Lee Hyo Ri’s wedding~

(I have always wanted a simple “backyard” wedding like Lee Hyori’s.)

Park Bo Young's wedding~

Park Bo Young’s wedding~

Lee Min Jung's wedding~

Lee Min Jung’s wedding~

But, there is one aspect of Korean weddings that I recently found out and found interesting. It was shown in The Human Condition.

There, the groom’s friends went to the street where the house of his bride was located, and they called out to people who suddenly appeared, money in hand. Then, the groom’s friends took the money and a gift they had bought to the bride’s house; but, before entering her house, they stepped on a gourd(?) and broke it in half. Then, they gave the parents of the bride a “big” bow before sitting down to eat a HUGE meal together with the bride, her family, and the groom.

(There are similar traditions found in Nigerian weddings, as well, where friends and family help pay for the wedding by spraying the bride and groom with money as they dance. Similarly, the bride and groom are not allowed to touch the money, and friends or family do so for them.)

However, if you want to know more about marriage in Korea, then check out this witty post: “Want to Marry a Korean? Here’s 6 (or 7) Things You Should Know!” It is written by Keith, a Korean-American, and his style of writing leans on the humorous side, so it makes for a fun and informative read.

This is what Keith has to say about marriage in Korea:

1. You’ll Need Mommy and Daddy’s Permission, “Son, don’t you be marrying no crazies!”

2. Parents will Pick up the Tab, “Daddy, Can you buy me a wedding?”

3. Splitting Wedding Costs is Crazy Complicated… Or just avoid by marrying a Samsung heir

4. You Might Not Get that Cool Korean Name You’ve Always Wanted… Unofficial ones are still gravy tho

5. Holidays Might mean Work (for Women)… Follow orders from bossy Korean aunts

6.  New Years Mean Less Money… In exchange for hardcore bowing

7. You Might Have to Live with Parents (Again)… Korean mama food

In addition, if you make your way to the comments– and you should, then you will see that there are questions and concerns about an issue neither Keith in his post nor I in my series of posts have have addressed:

Interracial relationships in Korea.

So, to end this three-part series on sex, dating, and marriage in Korea, I’d like to share my unni’s wedding with you. She recently got married to her Nigerian fiancee, and I am SO excited to see both of them this winter when I finally go back to Korea!^^

My Unni’s Wedding

I’ve mentioned my unni before. We met, because she “scouted” me as I was walking past her shoe store. After that, she took such good care of me while I was in Korea, always telling me to visit her and buying me yummy food. She’s such a sweet person, and I’m so happy that everything worked out.

Because, a year and a half ago when we met, her and her boyfriend were having the same problems my ex-boyfriend and I had– problems because of differences in culture, and really, problems because of differences in expectations when it comes to relationships.

(And, like me, she had never really had a boyfriend before, either!)

In the end, everything worked out because of the love and commitment they felt for each other, which you will see as you look at their beautiful wedding photos.

The Invitations

(She designed them herself!)

1

2

3

The Wedding Shoot

a

b

c

The Wedding

z

For the full story and more beautiful, romantic pictures go HERE; and, you can also take a look at other Korean weddings on the site by going HERE.

Now that you know more about sex, dating, and marriage in Korea, I hope that you can and WILL make an informed decision about your relationships in Korea, with Korean people.

There are certain cultural differences that it is important to be aware of, because this awareness will lead to better understanding of each other, as well as a better understanding of the future of your relationship; perhaps, whether or not your relationship even HAS a future.

So, you may or may not find the happy ending you were dreaming of after watching all of those Korean dramas and drooling over all of those Korean idols, but as long as you learn something new about someone different from you and follow your heart– learning something new about yourself in the process, too, then I think that no matter what happens, it will be worth it…

So, stay tuned for Black Girls: A Guide to Korean Boys!

You should get to know someone for who they really are, not who you think they might be; and, since everyone is different, you shouldn’t judge someone based on what you think you know about them, but on their words and actions as you really get to know them.

So, my three close Korean guy friends can’t and won’t speak for all Korean guys, but they can speak for themselves, and I hope you have fun getting to know them…

Soon!

^^

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Dating in Korea

*The “Sex, Dating, and Marriage in Korea” Series*

In this post, I’ll talk about dating in Korea and (very briefly) take you to a world similar to that seen in everyone’s beloved Korean dramas– just in case you read Sex in Korea and were wondering whether or not that world even existed…

Love seems to always be in the air in Korea.

Koreans even have romantic holidays– one for each month, so check out this video to see what Pepero Day in Korea is all about!

(To see the full list of romantic holidays in Korea, check out THIS article.)

But, even without romantic holidays there are still plenty of special events for a couple to celebrate, from surprise events to 100 days to 1,000 days, an event famous Korean singers Oh Jong Hyuk of former group Click B and Soyeon of T-Ara were recently caught celebrating with several friends.

Speaking of celebrity couples, these days it seems like ALL of our favorite Korean celebrities are dating, from comedians to actors and actresses to idols!

In response, many people have expressed their happiness for these couples but also their shock and concern over the age differences between both confirmed couples, like Tony An and Hyeri, and alleged couples, like Choiza and Sulli

Age Differences and Dating in Korea

Just the other day my friend was taken aback by an ahjusshi who was messaging her. He is 34, and she is 24. I’ve had similar experiences where Korean men who I think are too old approach me for a date, and I was similarly taken aback.

(My ex-boyfriend– Korean, is only five years older than me.)

However, it seems like men in Korea are allowed to be much older than the girls and women they date or marry. Even Kim Soo Hyun said that he’ll get married to a 21 year old girl when he’s 41; and, here are some shocking age differences between a couple in Korea that is still just dating, a recently engaged couple in Korea, and married couples in Korea.

A Couple That Is Still Just Dating:

Baek Yoon Shik (actor): 30 years

A Recently Engaged Couple:

Park Jin Young (JYP): 9 years

Married Couples:

Yang Hyun Suk (YG): 12 years

Seo Taiji: 16 years

Lee Juno: 23 years

For a longer list of married couples with BIG age gaps between them, check out THIS article; and, its not just older men, yeonsang, and younger women, yeonha, who are tying the knot!

Kim Jo Kwang Soo (director, gay): 19 years

In addition, in recent years it has become something of a trend for older women, also yeonsang, to date younger men, also yeonha, but not with such big age differences. For example, Baek Ji Young is nine years older than her husband, Jung Suk Won. Kim Woo Bin’s girlfriend is actually older than him, too, but just by a year.

But, in Korea, why is the age difference between older men and younger women who are dating or married so big?

For me, perhaps because I am Nigerian-American, this age difference is somewhat shocking, but it is also completely understandable from the perspective of Korean culture: In Korea, age differences are often bigger between older men and younger women who are dating and married, because it is generally up to the man to prepare everything from a house to a car to a ring.

So, these?

Just click the image to watch the actual video on Youtube~

And, this?

Korean Drama Birth of the Rich~

Korean Drama Birth of the Rich~

According to THIS article, titled “It’s Not Like on TV: ’80% of Korean Men Without a Car and Home of Their Own Never Find Love’,” not ALL Korean men are rich!

And, not ALL Korean men can find love, BECAUSE they’re not rich:

“The reason I was dumped by my last girlfriend was that I didn’t have a car and a home of my own. Her parents were completely against us being together.”

So, Korean men often get married when they are older– after going to army for two years and after working for “X” amount of years– older and thus, wealthier.

Of course, this is definitely NOT always the case, but it seems to be the case more often, at least compared to America where men and women tend to support each other financially, allowing men to get married sooner rather than later. Although, in America there are also PLENTY of gold-digging young women who date and marry extremely old men just for their money.)

But, what do young women in Korea look for– is it really just a house and a car?

One survey might have an answer, but remember that all surveys have their flaws and faults and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Younger women in Korea who were interested in getting married said the following would be a “game-changer” for a potential husband who also happened to be a bad first date: 36 percent said the type of car he drives, 27 percent said his annual salary, 23 percent said if he looks charming in a suit, 11 percent said manners and sense, and just three percent said humor and an ability to lead a conversation.

(To take a look at what Korean men had to say, check out the full article HERE.)

Date or Die

Dating in Korea is like breathing: Everyone does it, and if you don’t, then you’ll “die.”

Out and about in Korea you’ll see tables and specials for two. Couples of all ages hold hands and can be spotted easily, especially if they’re wearing couple items.

Couple One~

Couple One~

Couple Two~

Couple Two~

(To take a look at even MORE Korean couple looks, check out the full article HERE.)

But, why is dating, or yeonae, so important in Korea?

Well, dating is the best way to find a husband or wife and go on to get married and build a happy or at least stable and secure family; and, in Korea, family matters. So, here are some typical(?) questions a Korean mother will ask her son’s girlfriend, as seen on Mamma Mia (English subbed) at 28 minutes:

“Are your parents still alive?”

“What is your religion?”

“How many siblings do you have?”

“What do you do for a living?”

However, the younger generation of Koreans might not care about the answers to those questions. A close Korean dongsaeng of mine said that she wished her parents didn’t care so much about who she dated.

(Same here.)

Matchmaking

Matchmaking in Korea is INTENSE.

Couples who look alike are said to match, so couples often go to get their faces matched. Couples also talk about compatibility concerning their blood types and star signs, something many of us already know about thanks to movies like My Boyfriend is Type B and dramas like 12 Men in A Year.  More traditional Korean matchmaking involves getting a couple’s names read, as well as going to a fortune teller to see if a couple is meant to be together…

This might be why there are so many Korean shows and Korean services that are devoted to matchmaking.

For example, JJak (or “other half”) is a popular show in Korea where a group of single men and women live together and go on dates with each other. At the end, they can choose their other half or walk away empty-handed and alone.

Although not everyone chooses to televise their blind dates, if someone is single, then they are often sent on sogaeting, short for sogae meeting, by a matchmaker, family member, or friend.  These are just what we call blind dates, and they can be for two people or for a group of people, so long as the numbers make pairs and no one is left out!

Sogaeting for two~

Sogaeting for two~

Once Koreans get older, then they can also seonbogi, or go on a blind date with the intention to get married.

If you are curious about a “typical” Korean blind date, then check out this (English subbed) episode of Mamma Mia for two blind dates, one arranged for an older woman looking for a husband and one arranged for a younger boy looking for a girlfriend:

However, blind dates don’t always involve as much effort and romance as you see on TV; and oftentimes, they can end abruptly as someone rushes off to the bathroom and never comes back to that small, cramped table in a cafe or hotel lobby.

Typical Dates

Typical dates between couples in Korea tend to involve the same activities: Food at cafe or restaurant; going to see a movie, play, or baseball game; hiking; biking; sightseeing; and, date “courses.”

Dutch pay in Korea isn’t very common, and that might be why girls and women complain about men who use coupons on dates as they try to save money. But, some of the best dates might be “1 night, 2 days,” short vacations that a couple takes together lasting one (special) night and two (fun) days.

So, dating in Korea is likely to involve the romance (and drama) that many foreigners have come to know and love!

However, don’t expect every Korean boy or man to be just like a lead actor (or second lead actor) from a Korean drama, especially when it comes to dating…

>.<

Next up, Marriage in Korea!

Sex in Korea

*The “Sex, Dating, and Marriage in Korea” Series*

This post, Sex in Korea, is probably not what you are thinking it will be, but it will definitely crush any illusions you might have from the world of Korean dramas or the world of Korean idols where Koreans just don’t have sex, let alone kiss or date– except for in Soulmate and 12 Men in A Year, my two favorite Korean dramas, because they were so real and honest rather than JUST being ridiculously romantic.

So, let’s start from the bottom– prostitution, and work our way up to pleasure and procreation!

^^

Prostitution

Prostitution, or “host and hostess” culture, is still very popular in Korea.

(I’ll also talk about clubs, nights, and “spas”, because I think its important to know about them– and the differences between them, before going to them.)

Last summer I lived in Sin-nonhyun, which is an entertainment district right next to the business district of Yeoksam.

I lived just a block or two behind this building:

"New" Nonhyun Exit #3~

“New” Nonhyun Exit #3~

How convenient for all those businessmen next door– and for me, because we were all just minutes away from tons of karaokes, restaurants, bars, and clubs…

Literally just minutes.

I remember being SO surprised by the abrupt change from my quiet street to Gangnam Road’s busy street to the bright, crowded street behind it as my dongsaeng showed me around Sin-nonhyun for the first time:

g1

Gangnam’s road~

What was behind it~

What was behind it~

However, my oppa in America actually told me not to live in Sin-nonhyun, because it was his old neighborhood, and he knew exactly what it was all about.

(But, when I finally arrived in Korea and had to find a place to live, it was my best bet after I spent an entire day in a hot car on a hot day with a NOT so hot Realtor and didn’t find many places in Gangnam that fit my budget AND my lifestyle.)

At first I didn’t pay much attention to my surroundings, but after I talked to another oppa that I met in Korea who said he hated Sin-nonhyun, because it was a “red-light” district, I started to…

I started to notice the prolonged glances from businessman and ajusshis late at night when I was dressed up and waiting for a friend to meet me and just happened to be on the street corner of Exit #3 (the exact place with the holes in the wall from above); or, the advances and invitations to “hang out” from them when I was on my way to the local convenient store to get a half pint of ice cream– again, always late at night.

And, when I finally saw a girl in my neighborhood wearing very Very VERY short shorts and heels, I realized just what my oppas meant.

Pleasure

Nightlife in Korea– and the rest of the world, is all about pleasure. After all, after a boring day at school or a hard day at work, people want pleasure. In Korea, pleasure means cafes, restaurants, and bars with delicious food and often expensive drinks, as well as crowded clubs, quirky karaokes, and– of course, sex.

Hooking up happens, even in Korea.

However, a vast majority of Koreans live with their parents, and some continue to do so even after marriage. This makes going home together a little hard to do. So, that’s why there are lovmotels that are open 24 hours a day.

A sex toy vending machine at a love motel in Korea~

A sex toy vending machine at a love motel in Korea~

However, pleasure is a part of every sexual relationship in Korea, both casual sexual relationships and serious sexual relationships. So, there are people who are one night stands. There are also people who are casual lovers, and a person who is a casual lover is known as a “섹스 파트너,” a borrowed word with a questionable connotation that literally means sex partner. Then, there are people who are more serious lovers, known as aein, which is a word also used for a boyfriend, namjachingu, or girlfriend, yojachingu.

(It’s good be aware of the different relationship statuses that exist in Korea. That way, you will also be aware of your own status in a relationship in Korea and avoid getting confused, embarrassed, or hurt.)

One of my Korean girl friends told me that she lost her virginity in a love motel that was actually very close to her university. Her ex-boyfriend took her there to celebrate their 100th day together, but it wasn’t exactly what she had been expecting…

So, just so you will know what to expect, check out this video on love motels; and, after watching it, I just realized that I stayed in one last summer!

Procreation

On the other hand, sex is also a topic that is approached very differently in Korea, especially once you get outside of prostitution or nightlife.

In Korea, sex is also seen as procreation– a natural way to build families, which are a very important part of Korean culture. So, on TV and in the real, you will often hear people ask married couples about their honeymoon and their married life after it. In fact, birth, stamina, and even whether or not a couple had sex that morning is a topic of frequent conversation– at least among older generations and in the context of marriage.

For example, on Korean variety show The Human Condition, a cast member had recently gotten married. He arrived late to that morning’s opening, and several of his fellow cast members asked him whether or not he was late because “a good thing had happened that morning,” or “if he had been busy working on making his second generation.”

Jeju Island even has an outdoor sculpture park devoted to sex!

^^~

^^”~

For more on Jeju Island’s “Love Land,” go here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love Land (South Korea)

And here:

http://www.jejuloveland.com/eng.html

In addition, 속궁합, sokgoonghap, is a word used to describe whether or not a man and woman “match” in bed; this matching is usually done BEFORE marriage, which might explain why so many Koreans (at least more than I would have expected) have shotgun weddings.

My ex-boyfriend– Korean, once said something about having babies first and getting married later, too. I literally lifted my hand and told him to put a ring on it. He got upset and asked me why I didn’t want to have his babies, and I was thinking to myself, “Are we really having this conversation?

We’re not even supposed to talk about or have sex, right?

Wrong.

But, for more on sex in Korea, including topics from pornography to “pet boys” to date rape, check out this gritty documentary series on Dramafever.com:

Shocking Life – Sex

Finally, learn about sex and make an informed decision about having (or not having) sex, whether you choose to do so in America or in Korea!

Next up, Dating in Korea!

Sex, Dating, and Marriage in Korea: An Introduction

*The “Sex, Dating, and Marriage in Korea” Series*

As my friends and I get older (we’re in our early 20′s), we worry about things like the difference between a job and a career, like the difference between love and marriage. I’m Nigerian-American, and I grew up Catholic. I also grew up watching Hollywood classics and reading regency romances. So, that all makes me decades– if not centuries, behind modern day America, especially when it comes to sex, dating, and marriage.

I don’t get couples who don’t hold hands when they walk down the street together, who are on their phones even when they’re with each other.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned love– or at the very least, companionship?

So, in this introduction, I’ll briefly talk about my own personal thoughts and feelings about sex, dating, and marriage, as well as how I met and fell in love with my ex-boyfriend, who is Korean. I’ll also talk about the worst dating advice– possibly ever, on “How to Get a Korean Guy,” and finally, I’ll talk about what I think is the most important part of sex, dating, or marriage– love, and hopefully encourage you to see beyond the shallow and superficial things that you probably hear on a daily basis.

Then, later on in three different blog posts devoted to each topic I’ll  talk A LOT about sex, dating, and marriage in Korea, partly to explore the differences between American and Korean culture and partly to introduce an upcoming post, Black Girls: A Guide to Korean Boys.

First (and Last) Dates

I started dating in college once I started focusing less on studying and sports and more on, well, boys.

The one tall, brunette All-American (white) guy– military boy with calf tattoos, a big red truck, and a camo hat, that I dated (literally one date) also didn’t get the lack of affection between American couples, but that didn’t mean that there was any attraction OR affection between us, at least not that I was aware of…

I also dated a short, brunette Sicilian boy, a short, blonde Jewish boy, and a kind-of tall, black-haired Chinese boy– all during my freshmen and sophomore years of college and all literally ONE date.

They even asked me out on relatively similar dates– coffee, studying, and dinner, where I was relatively, similarly bored…

My Ex-boyfriend

FINALLY, when I was a senior in college, I met my ex-boyfriend at a club. We danced and drank together, and then he asked me out as soon as we got outside. It was cold, so he gave me his jacket. We went back to his place where we fooled around, but I was a virgin so that was all we did before falling asleep.

And, from that morning when we woke up together– sober and starry-eyed, we were a couple.

We were in love, and we crossed the language and culture barriers between us– no, we tore them down until there was nothing between us.

Behind The Scenes Story:

Once, I asked him if he had seen any black girls in South Korea.

Shockingly, he said, “No.”

That was back in 2011 when he was 26 years old…

That’s a long time to go without seeing a black girl!

He also said that he saw a black girl– Beyonce, for the first time when she became famous in Korea with her hit song “Single Ladies.”

However, he didn’t date me because I was black, and I didn’t date him because he was Korean. In fact, he really didn’t care about my race and my skin color (or my hair), and I really didn’t care about his bad English (or whether or not he was just like a character in a Korean drama).

The Worst Dating Advice (Ever)

That’s why this is the worst dating advice ever:

http://www.korea-dating-tips.com/dating-tips-for-women.html

(While tips #1, #4, and #5 are worth taking a look at, don’t even get me STARTED on #3, because a lot of Korean boys and men admire American women for our perceived openness, strength, and independence.)

“If you are into dating a Korean man then I recommend being aware of the changes you must make.”

Bullshit.

Be YOURSELF, and be with the person who loves you for who you are– be he Korean, black, white, or an alien from outer-space(?). The hard part should be FINDING that person, not CHANGING yourself.

(*cough*The Self-Confidence Campaign*cough*)

Finally, the following needs to be said:

People aren’t “fetishes,” and an interest in someone of another race is not a “fever.” Traditionally, a fetish is for an object that arouses you sexually; and, a fever is an illness, one that typically passes after a short period of time.

In my opinion, love, which is the ultimate goal behind dating and the ultimate reason behind marriage, is more than a “fetish” or a “fever,” and the latter– marriage, is supposed to last forever.

So, stay tuned!

Because, I still have to talk about sex, dating, and marriage in Korea!