My Korean Husband

Intercultural Life

Category: Culture (page 3 of 22)

Traditional and modern Korean culture.

Childhood Memories

About 2 weeks ago we traveled to the area where Hugh’s mother is from and where Hugh spend a large amount of his childhood. It has been many years since they had been back. We visited his grandparents’ burial mounds and paid respects, we also saw many elderly relatives and found the house that Hugh lived in as a small boy.

When Hugh was only about 1 year old, his father became very ill and he had to go live with his grandparents as his mother spent all her time looking after his father. It’s not unusual for children to live with grandparents in Korea, either back then or today. You still see grandparents doing a lot of the child minding in Korea and sometimes children live with their grandparents for years like Hugh did. It was very strange for him to see that area again. He was close to his grandparents and grew up thinking they were his real parents, so the transition of moving back with his parents was difficult for him. His grandfather passed away when he was quite young and his grandmother passed away while he was doing his military service.

Korea has had such rapid development in the past few decades, so it’s interesting to think about what Hugh’s childhood was like in the 1980’s and how it differed from mine in Australia.

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Dingle Dingle Dingle

Dingle Dingle Dingle

If you are unsure of what a Jjimjilbang is, click here.

When you are in an intercultural marriage, you can’t always pick and choose what aspects from our own culture your partner adopts. I don’t particularly like that Hugh has picked up this Australian aversion to communal male nudity but that’s how he feels after living in Australia. I don’t like the narrow idea of masculinity in Australia and find a lot of things in Korea to be refreshing. But I guess when something is an aversion, it’s easy for others to absorb that thinking too, and Hugh changed a lot in his time in Australia. He very easily slips into a more Australian/western way of thinking sometimes.

Although he grew up going to jjimjilbangs in Korea and being naked with his friends was completely normal, he now feels odd because of reverse culture shock. I wonder if a few more years back in Korea will change that. If not, perhaps he should spend some time in European countries with naked saunas so he can get over it haha.

“Dingle Dingle Dingle” was the best way he could explain what he was seeing in English.

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INTERCULTURAL MARRIED LIFE: AUSTRALIAN/KOREAN COUPLES

We ask questions to Australian/Korean married couples! How did you meet? What aspects of your partner’s culture have you adopted? Best and worst things about international/intercultural relationships? Advice or other couples?

Big thank you to everyone who helped us make this video!

Check out Rachel and Nick’s YouTube channel, The Drunken Bear here.

Check out Sophie’s blog on raising a bilingual child here.

There is a reason why we don’t do these videos regularly: they sure are a pain to edit! But we had been wanting to do something like this for a long time. This video is just Australian/Korean couples, but we may in the future do another video with a bigger mix of people. We wanted to focus on the culture rather than race aspects, as too often people focus on race and what people look like. But culture is what we should be talking about. How do you navigate and international and intercultural marriage? It’s an ongoing exploration and discussion.

(A video with Korean subs will be coming).

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Korean Culture: Flowers and Photos

I’ve shown this in a comic recently here, but we also made a video about this flower culture in Korea.

The flood plain next to our village is bare all through winter, but in preparation for spring, canola seeds are planted. They come up really quickly as the weather gets warmer and then suddenly there are yellow flowers everywhere! We usually go there at the end of the day when there are less people. So for this video we filmed while there weren’t many people and as the sun was setting.

There are lots of nice things about Korean couple culture and dressing in matching clothes and taking nice photos together is something I think is lovely.

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Photos and Flowers

Photos and Flowers

Canola flowers grow on the flood plain next to the river in our village. They are deliberately planted so people can come and enjoy them. During the week I see a few people wandering through but on the weekend there were so many. People arrived in cars from all over to walk through the flowers and take photos. We were riding our bikes around the village in the afternoon and were shocked to see lots of people. Usually we see no one in our area besides from a few old people.

Taking photos with flowers is pretty popular in Spring in Korea, so people were all dressed nicely, and one couple were even doing engagement photos. However, Hugh was in his “home clothes” which are old and falling apart clothes, and had gross, unwashed hair. Very different to how he looks in Seoul! It’s fine when it’s just old people that see you, but a bit different when there are large groups of nicely dressed people! So after grumbling at how many people have invaded his village sanctuary, we rode our bikes somewhere else instead.

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5 THINGS WE MISS ABOUT AUSTRALIA

What are some things we miss about Australia?

This video is a collab with The Drunken Bear YouTube channel, so check out their video here:

We love collaborating with other couples, especially Aussie/Korean couples. Rachel and Nick will appear in another video coming out soon too!

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Gwon Family Ancestral Memorial Rites

We filmed this before we were in Australia for 6 weeks. This is the ancestral memorial rites for the Gwon/Kwon family. Hugh and I were researching online the exact word for this type of one but couldn’t find it, there doesn’t seem to be as much information about it. It is Jesa, the ancestral rituals, but not exactly the same as the more commonly done ones. This one is done once a year with the head family and it honors 8 or 9 generations back. Because the Gwon family were part of the yangban (the traditional ruling class) they have all the records of how far back their family goes.

In Korea, Catholics, Buddhists and the nonreligious practice ancestral rites, but protestant Christians do not usually. Although I identify as Christian myself, I have a lot of issues with the type of Christianity in Korea and how culture can be erased when Western missionaries push their own beliefs but that’s a discussion for another day. These ceremonies show appreciation and respect to the family’s ancestors as well as strengthening ties with living family.

You can see the different treatment of men and women in Confucianism in traditions like this (and still to this day in modern society). But it is gradually changing. Just recently for Lunar New Year Hugh’s immediate family decided it wasn’t fair for women to have to do 4 bows when men did 2, so it was changed to women doing 2 as well, because as Hugh put it, “Confucius was sexist”. At the Gwon family ancestral memorial I could see the difference in attitudes depending on how old the male family member was. Hugh was actually quite shocked that the women couldn’t eat with the men and had to prepare all the food, and a middle aged family member was helping carry the food across for the women, while the older men didn’t seem to give it a second thought. Confucianism has some good elements, but some benefit from some modern changes. The culture can be kept but updated for a modern Korea. In fact modern Korea could benefit from going back to some Confucian ideals of not having corrupt leaders, but again a discussion for another day.

This was the first time Hugh had done this particular ceremony as usually only his father does it. Being in an international marriage and mixing your culture with another does make you start to appreciate your own culture and where you come from. It’s good to understand your own heritage as you also adopt another. In recent years I’ve discovered more about my own ancestors and my ancestor who arrived as a convict in Australia on the first fleet. My father and I visited her grave and contemplated how she was just a young girl who had stolen some fabric and was sentenced to death, but then transportation, and how hard her life must have been. I was incredibly moved to visit her grave but also felt helpless as there were no words or rituals to be said in respect for her. So because that is lacking in my own culture (unless someone dies in a war) I can appreciate these rituals in Korean culture.

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