We talk about being called ahjussi or hyung and how I got a Korean tutor. We also comment on some comments!
You know the feeling of being a student again and it’s terrifying??? Traumatic school flashbacks haha.
Since I’m married to a Korean man I’m allowed a free Korean tutor through government services. Unfortunately we had to wait a year or so before one was available for me. Being in the countryside it’s a tutor that comes to people’s houses, which is good for me because I don’t have time to travel to a class twice a week.
Yesterday was the first evaluation to see where my Korean level is. My Korean is very basic and although I can follow some conversations, my speaking level is very low. People mistakenly think that by simply being in Korea that it should be very easy to learn Korean, but it’s not at all. Everyone has different skills and experiences. For example, someone who has already learned another language will likely learn faster, whereas I have never learned another language before. Also whether your relationship developed in English or Korean or a bit of both will affect it. When I first met Hugh, I couldn’t even read Korean.
Another aspect is what language who have to work in, and of course our work is mostly in English. Teachers, full-time bloggers and others working in English environments in Korea have this problem, and it’s a very different experience to someone who is learning Korean in a Korean university for example. What type of work or study you are doing in Korea will really influence the opportunities you have for learning Korean. (Not to mention extra things like dialect!)
Due to time limitations and knowing that I’d be getting a tutor later anyway, my Korean study stalled a lot. But now I’ll be learning Korean in Korean, which the tutor said is the hardest but fastest way. It’s kinda terrifying but I’m really glad as well.
He likes to think I’m such a baby and so helpless so it’s funny to turn it back on him.
Also it’s not just about being forgetful, it’s because once I’ve got my shoes on, I can’t go back inside! I’m not Korean and haven’t mastered the getting shoes on in 2 seconds thing. It’s such a hassle having to take my shoes off again, go back inside and get whatever I forgot and then put my shoes back on.
In Sydney we had a no shoes inside rule as well, but we’d ignore it if we had to run and get something quickly. I’ll get in big trouble if my inlaws see me do that though.
This is also a new episode that hasn’t been shown on the Challenge League before, so it’s new for everyone! I’m often warned by my mother-in-law to get the laundry off the line before it gets dark, not only because of dew but because of some vague folklore threat of something bad happening.
(Sorry guys, I missed yesterday’s comic because we were in Seoul for BIGBANG concert and some meetings and wasn’t able to prepare it earlier because of computer problems).
by Nic • Culture, Korean People, Relationships • Tags: korean husband, korean inlaws, korean parents, korean parents-in-law, korean wife, marrying korean, my korean husband, will a korean's parents accept me?, will korean parents accept a foreigner
We get asked a lot about how Hugh’s parents reacted to him bringing home an Australian girlfriend. We also get asked whether Korean parents are likely to accept a foreigner son or daughter in law and what can be done to make things go smoothly. We talk about the stereotype of Korean parents refusing to accept foreigners, hypothetical situations versus reality and some warning signs.
As with any video, there are many things we can’t cover. For example, we didn’t talk about incidences of Korean parents completely refusing to accept a foreigner (of course that can happen but we just don’t know anyone who has had that experience personally). We also didn’t comment on Korean American situations or Koreans who grew up in countries other than Korea. The stigma of single mothers is another serious topic and how that will affect acceptance from Korean parents is another topic that we weren’t able to cover this time.
While movies often glamorize international relationships, in reality there are a lot of things to think about!
Also just wanted to clarify that when we say “the government doesn’t care if you are married” we meant that the government doesn’t give a crap about your love life and a marriage certificate is not a visa, nor does it guarantee a visa. However, actually being married can make obtaining a visa easier. We will expand on these topics in later videos.
This blog post has been a long time coming and we actually made a video about this but have never uploaded it because we don’t want to offend people or be too polarizing.
For those that don’t know, AMWF stands for Asian Male White Female. We are indeed an Asian male and a White female but we don’t identify with that label or those tags when used online.
Our blog has always been about culture rather than what we look like. Labels like ‘Asian’ and ‘White’ are such large labels and contain many different cultures within them, so they end up mostly referring how someone looks. We’ve never been about that. In fact, I could be Asian Australian and we could still have the exact same cultural differences. Hugh could be of Korean ethnicity but have grown up in the same town as me and share the same Australian cultural identity, yet we would still fall under the AMWF tag. We have always highlighted the contrast of culture and trying to understand each other as an important aspect of the blog and YouTube channel.
When we first started the blog I never even thought to label ourselves that and it was only later that I discovered that these tags were used. My motivation was to simply share our life and the cultural differences we faced in a humorous and thoughtful way.
Hugh’s cultural identity as Korean is extremely important to him. He doesn’t like to just be labelled as “Asian” or have Korean culture lumped together in with all these other cultures that can be vastly different. While working in Australia he talked about how it frustrated him when people assumed that he was Chinese or Japanese just because he is Asian. He hated to have his nationality and cultural identity disregarded so easily like that. So when it came to the blog, we knew from the start it was important to show that he is a Korean man. The same way that now, as we live in Korea, I don’t particularly love being called American just because I am a white person. Even when people are corrected and told that I am actually Australian, their response is often, “Same thing.” For both of us, our nationalities are an important part of our identity. If we took a poll of what nationalities AMWF stood for, I don’t think Korean and Australian are necessarily the first ones that come to people’s minds. Another aspect of reducing our very real relationship to an internet tag or title is the uncomfortable way it resembles a porn tag, or fetish.
The benefits of using such tags are perhaps fitting right into an already established community and an easy way to find people who are perhaps like-minded. For me the tags seem too inclusive but at the same time too exclusive. There are many cultures within the term “Asian” and “White” so culturally it doesn’t mean that we necessarily fit into them. At the same time, AMWF is also excluding people of colour and gender who do actually have a relationship impacted by cultural differences. For example, letting go of such tags allows for non-White women (and men) with Asian partners join in communities and online sharing and to not feel excluded because of a tag.
On a more personal note, I feel that sometimes certain tags and titles diminish the sincerity of international couples. In the past year there have been many blogs popping up talking about and showing international and/or interracial relationships and perhaps there are many people currently contemplating starting one themselves. I think it’s good to always evaluate your motivations, ethics and priorities when you start blogging and what you want to present to the world.
I think there can still be times where it’s appropriate to talk about Asian men and White females, for example, representation in Hollywood films and the de-sexualization of Asian men in Western media, or the portrayal of White women in Asian media, but for us that’s not what our blog is about. It’s just about us.
Update: I also wanted to share what Sophie has also said about this issue. Sophie who has also done some blog posts here, and has been in some videos and is a good friend of mine.
I know labels like AMWF seem quite innocent, but as couples who come under this broad category, we also have a responsibility to think critically about what these labels say about us and whether we are okay with that. It can be very uncomfortable to have someone challenge a term we have latched onto, especially because I am sure most people don’t have any ill intent in using such tags. I think it is valuable to acknowledge the cultural differences in a bicultural, international marriage and personally, in my marriage we can recognise that we look different without this being a defining issue. We want to be normal members of society, accepted in Korea and Australia with barely a shrug.
For me, AMWF turns us into a side show, and reinforces negative stereotypes like “White women aren’t into Asian men” and therefore a narrative where I am a benevolent white woman who has been kind enough to take up a relationship with an unwanted or exotic ‘Asian’ man.
We all grow and change in our views, I’m sure when I was younger this tag wouldn’t have bothered me at all, but now I am a mother and have to deal with a new set of questionable categories like ‘half caste’ ‘half asian’ ‘halfie’ ‘biracial’ and figure out how to help my daughter navigate issues of identity and race. (For me, she is both 100% Korean and 100% Australian in every cell and each strand of her DNA) I wonder how I would feel if she went to school and described her parents as “AMWF” ..or if her friends used that term toward her.
I recognise shared experience is quite important to people in international relationships because we often feel like we are drifting into uncharted waters as we come upon new challenges due to cultural expectations, language, visas and other logistics. For me, this means I am always happy to connect with people who are married to Korean nationals, whether they are also Korean, or from whatever culture they come, but I disagree with the term AMWF.
Here is our vlog from Saturday as well. You can see some of the kimchi making. If you want to see the vlogs as they are uploaded, make sure you subscribe to the vlogging channel.
I do watch a lot of YouTubers and I do enjoy watching vlogs. That’s one of the reasons why we started a vlogging channel because I find many vlogs really interesting and thought maybe our viewers would like to see more of the every day stuff that we do.
While I know some people like the Aussie accent (though my own accent makes me cringe), Mr Gwon does have a fondness for pretty girls with cute accents so he will often come have a look if I’m watching Zoella with her British accent or CutiePieMarzia with her Italian accent. He is not so interested in someone like Flula though…
Speaking of accents, I had a really weird message the other week and I think it was from a Korean person. They informed me that I should teach my husband the difference between F and P, as well as D and TH and that my husband should speak English properly. It was really quite derogatory and completely missed the point because if you can understand Hugh/Mr Gwon – it doesn’t matter that he has a Korean accent. I like his Korean accent! He knows the difference between those sounds in English, he can pronounce them no problem, he just doesn’t always bother or feel the need to. Language is about communication and if someone can communicate fine, well nitpicking at things like that just makes it harder for people to gain confidence. Unfortunately there is an attitude among many Koreans of being extremely judgmental of someone’s English skills. Many Koreans, with a high level of English, are confident speaking English around native English speakers but freeze up if they have to speak English in front of Koreans.
Anyway, that’s my rant. I will be extremely happy if my Korean skills ever reach the level of my husband’s English skills.
A bit of alcohol usually improves his English. A little bit more… doesn’t seem to help at all. He was terribly embarrassed at the silly things he said last night. I think that “You can’t choice my life” was the best one though.