Culture

Traditional and modern Korean culture.

Over Water 6

Over Water

Yeah the butt poke is back. (As seen previously in this comic).

I am always vulnerable! It’s not fair to do it while being carried across a river!

Share Button

“I like you” in Korean Dramas 9

Han and Hugh talk about how “I like you” in Korean can mean more than what it means in English and why characters in Korean dramas often say “I like you” instead of “I love you”.

Share Button

Scar 8

Scar

(Flower boy roughly translate to something like ‘well-groomed pretty boy’.)

Don’t feel too sorry for him… He got a nasty cut on his cheek when he came home from a having a very big Saturday night. We think he tripped coming up the outside stairs that lead to the roof and possibly cut it open on some metal pipes (a situation that was entirely preventable). Right now he has a big bandage on his cheek and he is doing everything he can so it doesn’t leave a scar.

He has aspirations to be a flower boy but is too lazy. When he slicks his hair back he really does look like a gangster because of his strong forehead and features. At our Australian wedding we had a vintage theme and many Korean friends were saying he looked like a certain Korean gangster from last century.

That’s why he is a bit sensitive about having a scar on his cheek. Hopefully it will heal okay.

Share Button

Ask Korean Guys – Other Couples? 13

Hugh and Daniel talk about other couples that are also Korean guys and Western girls.

This question is a bit hard to answer. Our perspective is affected by what we see through the blog. We get lots and lots of emails and comments from other couples like us. So we are personally seeing a lot but compared to the general population it’s still a small amount. It does seem that in the past 5 years there has been a kind of surge in marriages between Koreans and foreigners though. Much more than before. There are other couples like us because more people are going to Korea to work and study and more Koreans are going to other countries. Both Hugh and Daniel went to Australia and started dating Australian girls.

From what I see, most couples like us are somewhat recently married. We get emails from people who married a long time ago occasionally, but they usually mention that they were always very different to everyone around them. We meet many people through the blog, but even without the blog there are many are connections forming. For example, Sophie and Chloe knew each other growing up, and just happened to both end up with Korean men. From my hometown, a predominately white area in the countryside, there are 2 other women who also married Korean men.

As well as people travelling a lot more and meeting people they wouldn’t normally ever get to meet, the interest in Kpop and Kdramas have opened a lot of doors, especially in regards to how Korean men are perceived. If you look at the history of Asian men in movies and western media, it’s a pretty sad story. Asian men are rarely cast as leads, unless it’s an action movie, and never cast as the lead male in romance movies. They get stuck in roles of villains or bumbling side kicks. What Kpop and Kdramas has done is changed many women’s perception of Asian men and shown that they are sexy and masculine and so much more than what western media says. I know some people worry about Korean men being fetishized, but you gotta cut teenage girls some slack. Any one who goes into a relationship with a Korean guy just because he is Korean will find that the relationship does not last very long. The guy will work it out pretty quickly, give him some credit! If someone starts dating a guy because their views were opened up by Kpop, if it turns into a long term and loving relationship, well it’s no one’s business but their own. It’s mean to make judgements about someone else’s relationship, (though people still seem to do it all the time).

Another aspect that comes up a lot is what actually constitutes a Korean guy when we talk about international couples? If my husband had grown up in Australia as a Korean Australian would I have made this blog? Probably not. How many cultural differences would we have? It’s hard to say and would depend so much on what his home life had been. It’s such a blurry line. There are people who identify as Korean but it was their parents or grandparents that were born in Korea, not them. It also means they grew up in western culture so there aren’t as big cultural differences when dating. But I’ve heard from people married to Korean Americans that even though their husband grew up in the US, there are still cultural things he does that Mr Gwon also does. Then there are others have almost no identity with Korean culture. We are always emphasising the culture and cultural differences on this blog. We aren’t interested in just physical aspects. We also shy away from identifying ourselves as an “Asian male/White female” couple and don’t really like those types of tags. It’s not about our looks and within the terms “Asian” and “White” there are a vast amount of differences and cultures. When we share our lives with people we want to talk about our relationship and our cultures and what life is like for us.

That’s why the people we end up being friends with are very similar to us. Usually they are Korean men who grew up in Korea with Australian women. We also have a wider circle of friends who are mostly Korean men with Western women.

Share Button

Big Butts 27

Big Butts

He likes big butts and he cannot lie….

One interesting aspect of being married – or even being around – someone from another culture who speaks English as a second language is the way they can say things that kinda sound offensive but it’s meant as a compliment. Sophie and I mentioned it in a video and talked about our husbands saying things like, “I like it when you are a bit chubby”. For us there can be negative connotations to things like that, but it’s not meant in a negative way. The same way the first time Koreans told me that I have a small face, I thought they were insulting me.

It’s also interesting the way standards for beauty often relate to things that are unobtainable for some people. I’m always amazed to see butt padding or “butt bras” in Korean underwear shops for women to make their butts look bigger.

For me, comments about the size of my rear end can carry the remnants of embarrassing moments from teenage years. Although I was always considered to be on the thinner size, I’ve never been flat in that area. One teenage moment that springs to mind was dressing up as the Spice Girls with friends, and I was ‘Posh Spice’ and wearing a tight dress. Another girl rudely commented about how big my butt was in front of everyone… Combine that with reading magazines containing articles about how to make your butt smaller and tighter…

None of that matters now, and I’ve learning to shake off that negativity. Beauty can be so subjective. Whatever shape you are, there will be someone who likes it.

I just still sometimes have that 1 second of thinking something is an insult before realising it’s a compliment.

 

Share Button

Quick Delivery 12

Quick delivery

So we got the box of paints that we ordered just over 12 hours later…. impressive. We’ve mentioned before that Korea has a “bally bally” culture, which means “quickly quickly”. This is great for consumers, but I do sometimes worry about how much effort is put in to get things sent so quickly. Korea is a lot smaller than Australia though, so it does make it easier to send things. So many things are available for quick delivery. Home shopping is much bigger here as well. My mother-in-law orders a lot of things she sees on TV.

Share Button

The things with the spoon 11

the things with the spoon

The day we both forgot the word “chopsticks”. My whole life I’ve been setting the table with “knives and forks” so that’s my excuse! Even though in recent years I use chopsticks more than knives and forks, it’s still ingrained in me that that’s how you set the table.

Koreans tend to use metal chopsticks and a spoon, so setting the table involves setting out the chopsticks with a spoon for each person.

Share Button

Fishing Ghost 27

Fishing Ghost

I think I’ve mentioned mulgwishin before, which are water ghosts, but gwishin (귀신) in general tend to usually be female ghosts wearing the white funeral clothes with long dark hair. When you become more emerged in Korean culture you start to hear the word a lot more and realise how scary they are for people. I was just saying the word “fishing” but my husband thought I had said “gwishin”. Slightly worrying because it was late in the day and where we live is perfect habitat for gwishins! We live in an old village full of old houses and abandoned falling down houses. We also live near a school. Schools feature heavily in gwishin folklore because schools are so creepy at night and are all very similar looking across Korea. If I see a school in a Korean horror movie I know that at some point I need to walk past the school here at night, so it’s probably best not to watch those types of movies.

When we cut through the school grounds I usually salute the statue of Admiral Yi (important figure in Korean history) just to be on his good side. Many schools have a statue of him and it’s said that he gets down from his pedestal and walks around the school grounds at night. We figure that if a gwishin in the school is coming after us, Admiral Yi can come save us. Of course we don’t really have a strong belief in ghosts and all that, but it’s funny how folklore can affect the little things you do day to day.

Share Button

Memorial Day 2

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in South Korea. It is for commemorating and honouring those who have given their lives for their country.

Read more here.

It’s also time remember that the Korean War never officially ended. We aren’t just commemorating fallen soldiers from long ago wars, but also remembering those who have died recently while protecting their country. Soldiers are still killed in skirmishes with North Korea and in military service accidents.

Share Button

Imagine 22

Imagine

Western furniture is something I really miss while in Korea. A lot of homes have barely any furniture, especially out in the countryside. My husband’s parents have a decent sized house for Korea but there is no sofa, no dining table. There are a limited amount of chairs and there is 1 single bed in the spare room. His parents sleep on the floor and we sleep on a mattress (I miss having a real bed too).

Meals are eaten on small tables (밥상) which are put away between meals. I understand why people don’t have much furniture because the space is used in a different way and traditionally Korean houses and furniture are very different to what we are used to in western countries. Furniture is also very expensive in Korea. There is not much range and it’s often quite bulky. While we now have space for a sofa technically, it would still have to be small one. Easy and cheap to get in Australia… not so easy or cheap in Korea.

My body really misses being able to relax on a sofa and I always take the opportunity to sit on them when we visit friends who have sofas. If you watch a lot of Korean dramas and Korean commercials it looks like Koreans have lots of western furniture, and houses and apartments are well furnished but that is not an accurate representation at all! It’s slightly more realistic when they are showing very wealthy families in dramas, but commercials that are supposed to be showing an average family but the average family lives in a huge apartment with lots of furniture?! Lies!

So I’m just stuck with my imagination now. Maybe if I wish really hard and believe… one will magically appear?

Share Button

Dol Celebrations 29

Dol Celebrations

(Woolies is Woolworths, a major Australian supermarket).

Han and Sophie’s daughter Alice had her first birthday celebrations (돌) on the weekend. It’s a very big thing in Korea! They are a lot of fun but my husband realised how much work they are. They are more like a wedding than actual modern Korean weddings are (way more fun as well).

He was only joking about not doing them for our children, of course we have to. Sophie also pointed out that once we have a baby he is going to think his child is the best in the world and do everything for them! First birthdays are huge events but they are also well catered for. You book the package deal you want and it’s held at a special hall with a buffet and an MC and everything is provided.

I’m sure once we have a baby he is going to think we need to do much more than just buy a supermarket cake!

Here is a photo from the celebrations.

dol celebrations

Share Button

Swimming Longing 39

Swimming Longing

Korea doesn’t have the same type of swimming culture that we have in Australian. Australians learn to swim as very young children and we also have lessons at school. It’s quite likely that you’ll have a pool in your backyard or at least your friend does. Many apartment buildings have pool facilities and there are many public pools. Most of the population lives around the edge of Australia so there is also the access to beaches. Even if you live out on a farm it’s likely that you will go swimming in a river or dam. Although Korea is a peninsula there is not anything like the swimming culture in Australia. There are not really beaches like in Australia or any easy access to swimming areas for everyone.

Although we are right near a river I’m not allowed to swim in it. My husband said that 20 years ago people used to swim there but dams have been built and now the currents are very fast and dangerous.

Although Koreans don’t swim much, and in fact a lot of the population can’t actually swim, there is a lot of water around. I feel a sadness and a longing when I see all this water but know that I can’t go swimming in it. I always declare that I want to go swimming when I see water but Koreans friends just look at me like I’m very odd when I say that. I don’t really have any desire to swim at public pools here (there are different rules like having to wear a swimming cap) but I’d love to swim in the ocean. Does anyone actually know somewhere good to swim in the ocean in Korea that is not the crowded Busan beaches?

For nonKoreans living in Korea, do you miss swimming? Is it part of your culture? Do you swim anywhere in Korea?

How many Aussies out there had a pool party for their birthday at least once when growing up? I hated that my birthday was in July and it was always too cold for swimming.

Share Button

The mother from 30

The mother from

Ahjummacist? That doesn’t even make sense. (Ahjummas are technically women who are married but tends to mean women in their 40′s and 50′s).

I’ve heard a lot of Koreans who have visited or stayed in Australia comment on the look and style of Australian women who are in that ahjumma age range. They have noticed that there isn’t one type of style for them and looks and hairstyles range considerably. In Korea there is a definite ahjumma style and something called an ‘ahjumma perm’. So of course ahjummas can end up looking very similar (obviously I’m not racist haha). My sister-in-law’s boyfriend once asked his mother about the perms saying, “Did you all get made in the same factory?”

When I go shopping with my mother-in-law we have to spilt up because I go to the younger women section and she goes to the ahjumma section – which is very different! I’m sure there are older Korean women that wear the younger styles, and the wealthy always have more access to different styles, but to me the ahjumma style is so vastly different to the younger styles. While of course in Australia there are clothing stores dedicated to older women, I’ve always been able to borrow clothes from my mother or shop in the same stores as her without feeling that style is vastly different to my own.

There also seems to be that line that you some day have to cross into ahjumma fashion. One of my husband’s female friends recently got an ahjumma perm and her friends were horrified. She insisted it was nice and easy to manage now so she felt comfortable, but her friends (all in their 30′s) were not ready to cross that line yet.

I don’t think I will ever get an ahjumma perm though…

 

Also, there wasn’t a new Mr Gwon Time yesterday like there should have been, but there is a new video on our BONUS channel where we try some of the candy you guys sent us.

Share Button

Inception 16

Inception

I woke up in a dream, thinking that I was back in Australia with my family and I was so happy. Then I wake up and realise that was just a dream and that I’m in Korea and things are terrible. Then I wake up really this time and realise I’m in Korea and everything is fine. This happened the other day and I had to make a comic about it.

What I think my subconscious is working through is this: I have a wonderful family and it’s hard to leave them, not only in the sense of leaving home and leaving my country, but in the sense of leaving and starting my own family. It’s a natural part of life but it can be difficult. My mind was probably questioning whether I’d made the right choices, what if what I chose was really bad? How does it compare to my life with my family? The dream gave me the scenario of that alternative reality. Then I woke up really and was a bit disorientated by these dreams. I go downstairs and find my wonderful husband (who would never act badly like that really) simply sitting on the floor exercising. He greets me with a big smile and I realise how wrong that dream was.

What the bad version of my husband said was also an indicator of some things I do find difficult in Korea. I am the only white person around here and people do come to look at me. Older people touch my white skin. Most days it’s fine but some days I really dislike having to be introduced to many people. But now everyone around here knows who I am so that situation doesn’t really happen, or it’s actually something different. For example the other day my husband called me downstairs and I had a moment of feeling, “I hope it’s not more random people who want to see me,” but actually he just wanted me to see the huge fish a neighbour had caught. (Those that follow Facebook and Instagram would have seen the photo).

Share Button

How to pick the sweetest strawberry 7

There was supposed to be a Mr Gwon Time yesterday. It is finished and ready to go but we haven’t subtitled it yet. Subtitling can be a lot of work and we haven’t felt up it because of the ferry tragedy in Korea. The mood has been very subdued here and everyone is just constantly watching the news and hoping.

We do have a few videos that are ready to go though.

We tell you which strawberries are the sweetest ones in Korea.

There is also a new video on our bonus channel.

Share Button

© 2012-2014 My Korean Husband All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright