Korea has a culture where people go to public baths and are very comfortable to be naked around other people (though usually the same sex). There also isn’t any shame in undressing and changing clothes in front of friends, whereas many Western cultures have issues with that and there is a lot more ingrained shame when it comes to bodies.
Hugh does tend to be quite the nudist (maybe more than others) and once the weather is warm enough he doesn’t see the point of wearing clothes at home. Currently he is always exercising naked too. I’m sorry neighbours. But after I started talking about this on the blog, and with friends who also married into Korean families, I’ve heard that many Koreans can be quite similar in stripping off in their own home, at least down to just underwear.
I think men possibly have more freedom than women in traditional homes. Traditionally the parents’ room is also the living room which means a lack of privacy. When we lived in the countryside I never walked in on my sister in law or mother in law changing but constantly saw Hugh and my father in law in just their underwear. As a westerner who is used to parents’ rooms to be very separate and very private it was quite confronting and a big cultural difference.
Another contrast is that in Australia showing cleavage is okay and men often exercise without a shirt in public which just isn’t seen in Korea. Every country has a different expectation of what is acceptable and how much of the body is shown and where it can be shown.
I definitely think ondol heating (underfloor heating) has something to do with it. As Hugh mentioned, when there is ondol heating anywhere can be your bed because Koreans don’t usually have problems with sleeping directly on the floor. When the floor is warm and comfortable it makes sense to strip down and be the most comfortable possible. Also many Korean homes don’t have sofas or that type of furniture so everything is done down on the floor. It can be very relaxing, but I find it hard to be motivated when laying on a heated floor!
We try to focus on positive stuff but after being online for several years we thought we’d talk about some of the weird or mean comments we sometimes get, as well as what some people say in real life. We also wanted to give a space to other international/interracial married couples to talk about their experiences too. People usually comment more on YouTube to head over there to join the discussion.
People already love to judge the looks of interracial couples more than other couples and there can be extra scrutiny as we age. Caucasians in general seem to show the signs of aging earlier. There are plenty of jokes and memes online about the slower aging process of Asians but it is something you can start to see in your own life. Hugh still gets mistaken for someone 10 years younger than he really is, whereas I never would be. (Hugh is also older than me).
As with most comics this was a very real conversation we had in a lighthearted manner. The conversation continued with me lamenting my white genes, to which Hugh responded, “But you guys (white people) dominate everything, so don’t complain. That’s your punishment”. Hugh likes to get the white privilege jokes in haha.
I’ve been on some strong medication for health problems (Endo) which I feel is doing damage to my body and I feel like I can see it in my face. My mother looks amazing for her age so I hope I have some of those genetics to balance out what illness does to me.
For those also in interracial marriages: Do you get unnecessary comparison comments about your appearance?
I actually really like tofu and it’s used so well in Korean cooking as a proper ingredient and not like a meat substitute in western cooking. Korean tofu is great too! But I just don’t get that automatic reaction of drooling at slabs of tofu on food shows that Hugh gets. I was just thinking about how I wish it was cheese. I’d be drooling if it was a big slab of cheese.
We thought up this challenge because after being married for several years I think we are comfortable confessing to some secrets or how we feel about some things in each other’s cultures. And I guess the challenge is not to descend into an argument! Haha! What food do we not like? What do we think is weird? What did we lie about?
We’d love to see some other couples do this challenge.