“Oppa” is the Korean term that I often use for Hugh as he is an older male. It can also be used in the context of our relationship as a pet name. Unfortunately in a crowd there are many “oppas” so Hugh often assumes it’s a woman calling out to another guy, and not to him. If I call out “Oppa” to him it doesn’t really get his attention. Calling out “Hugh” also doesn’t get his attention if we are in a loud place. Lately I’ve been calling out “oi” in a very Australian accent and have found it works so much better! Especially when I stress my Australian accent as he knows it’s immediately me. The word “oi” is used quite a bit in Australian English.
In this Seoul Life video we eat some amazing watermelon cold noodles, Hugh shows some of his work day, and we catch up with Joel, who is back in Korea briefly.
We get a lot of messages where people need advice and we do out best to answer them. We decided it was time to make a video talking about how we make our marriage work and what things we do to make a happy life together. The video was actually over 30 mins long but of course cut down, so there was many more things we had to say!
We wrote down what we wanted to say, but I ended up doing more of the talking because Hugh isn’t as comfortable in English for a more scripted video BUT if you get him in person he will talk your ear off!
I’ve read that when someone returns to their home, where their parents still live, they tend to act more like their teenage self and revert back to that type of behaviour. That definitely plays a part in how Hugh can act at home. He will argue with this parents, be stubborn and annoying, and torment his sister. He directs some of that sisterly torment at me too, and it’s seriously like dealing with a 16 year old sometimes. That’s not to say he is always like this, because usually he is a mature, level-headed, compassionate man, but he has his teenage times.. luckily we aren’t living here long term and will be moving to Seoul.
Hugh had already seen my sulky and moody teenage times at home in Australia so he was fully aware of that before he married me. But because we moved to Korea after 2 years of marriage, this was more of a surprise for me. In international relationships you always have that change in a partner when moving to another country. Many women married to Korean men find that after moving to Korea long term, that their carefree husband has turned into a stressed workaholic because of Korean work culture. There needs to be understanding on both sides. That’s why marriage is about deciding every day to love someone, even when they can be at their most annoying.
And I bet Hugh gets his revenge on me in a ‘My Australian Wife’ comic!
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).
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.
Another quick video in our Australian summer series! You may be wondering how this group of people actually came together. Some of us grew up in the same areas, or went to the same schools, and then only later in life have reconnected because we’ve all married into Korean families. Other people we’ve met through the blog or through Korean classes. Australia is becoming more and more multicultural and as the Korean population grows, the more common multicultural families with Australians and Koreans are becoming. It’s great being friends with other couples and families in similar situations, and with some of us living in Korea and some of us living in Australia, it’s rare that all of us can come together like this.