My Korean Husband

Intercultural Life

Tag: wedding (page 1 of 2)

Yul’s First Australian Wedding

One of the reasons why we went back to Australia was for my brother’s wedding. Yul was a page boy! It was also his first Australian wedding and he enjoyed himself immensely. Australian weddings are much longer, and bigger events, than Korean weddings so it went for many hours. Modern Korean weddings don’t usually have a wedding reception with speeches and dancing like weddings in western countries. We did wonder how Yul would cope with all the people and long hours and noise. But he did really well! Having a flexible lifestyle with him does really help in these situations as he adapts well.

He also did such a good job of walking down the aisle with his second cousins. I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to, but since he’d had some practice he knew exactly what to do on the day. Even though there was a heat wave, the wedding was beautiful and we are so happy to welcome my brother’s wife into our family. She is Chinese Malaysian, so they also had a ceremony in Malaysia and celebrated lunar new year there. My parents and my other brother also went to Malaysia for those celebrations too. We had to head back to Korea for lunar new year here though.

If you watch the video to the very end you can see Yul in his hanbok in the car (that Hugh is controlling). We didn’t buy him that car! Friends bought it for him, but he really does love it.



He admitted that he might have really thought the word was “bride’s mate” instead of “bridesmaid”. Which is completely understandable! The bridesmaids are the friends of the bride and in Australia we use the word “mate” for friend.

Is there a word that you have been saying wrong and then one day just finally realised?

We are now at my parents’ house so are settling back into a somewhat normal schedule for the next 2 weeks. We have been super busy in Seoul, then travelling to Australia and then with wedding stuff in Sydney. I don’t know if videos will be on our normal schedule but we will putting more up from now.


Our Story

I’ve touched on some aspects of the story of how we met and got married but not all of it. (Sorry this is quite long).

In 2008, although I had spent some time living in Sydney, at this point I was back living in my home town which is in a more rural area. The area I’d grown up in was predominately white Australian but my parents had always encouraged us (I have 3 other siblings) to look beyond the boundaries of our home town. My youngest brother already had an interest in Japan (he speaks Japanese and now lives there) and we always were excited about experiencing new cultures. All these seemingly little things put me on the path to where I am today.

Because our home town is in a more rural area there were work opportunities for people on working holiday visas and in 2008 there were quite a few Koreans living there temporarily. Through my brother, who had already met several Koreans, I made a lot of Korean friends and this was my first experience of Korean culture. I cringe thinking back and realising was pretty clueless back then.

By the beginning of 2009 though, I’d moved back to Sydney. My youngest brother and I lived in a big share apartment in the CBD of Sydney with both Japanese and Korean people. I was gradually being exposed to more Korean culture and understanding more. I have to make clear that all my Korean friends were Koreans in Australia for a few years, not Australian Koreans – there can be quite a big difference. I had a few Korean boyfriends as well (but not at the same time!). Mostly not that serious, though one I thought might have been. When you have a relationship with someone from a different culture it’s easy to blame their culture if things go wrong. Especially if you don’t understand that much about their culture. If you google about Korean husbands you may find a lot of negative stuff that people put down as “Korean culture” but actually it’s often more to do with the Korean man’s personality. I did that back then as well; at various times saying “I’d never date another Korean man again.” However, even back then I was drawn to Korean culture and it was probably inevitable that I’d end up with a Korean man. After a few bad boyfriends I eventually made more friends and had more exposure to Korean men and realised there are some of the cultural aspects that I actually prefer.

By the time I met my future husband in 2010 I knew some Korean words, I could eat Korean food, and I understood a bit more about Korean culture. This all helped because I’d gone through those early difficult stages of not understanding some cultural things and having to adjust my ideas before meeting him, so that didn’t have to put a strain on our early relationship. He had also dated a Canadian girl previously, so it wasn’t the first time he’d dated a white western girl either.

At that point in my life most of my Korean friends had gone back to Korea and I was really missing them. I didn’t really have anyone to go out to Korean restaurants with etc. At this time my husband advertised for language exchange online. I answered because I was keen to make some more friends and he added me on facebook and we chatted a bit.

A group of us met in the city the next day. I will always remember standing there and waiting outside the coffee shop and my future husband stepping out in front of me saying my name. He was better looking in person than his facebook photos but I wasn’t immediately attracted. The group of us sat in the coffee shop and talked and I soon realised his English was quite good and he had so many stories to tell as he’d spent years traveling around. He’d first come to Australia in 2006 and back then couldn’t speak any English at all and knew nothing about Australia but now it was obvious that he knew quite a lot. The group of us spent the rest of the day together – dinner, noraebang etc, it was quite eventful. Also this was when this happened: First Meetings and G-Dragon.

Also at some point my future husband sat down with me and told me he wanted to be my boyfriend! He told me something like:

“I’m not a really handsome guy, I’m not rich, I’m not really smart but… I will do everything I possibly can to make you happy.

But I said no… I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend at that point and was enjoying being single. I let him start pursuing me though and we started seeing each other every day. One aspect of Korean culture became a problem for us though: Koreans see relationships as either completely single or completely dating and not really anything in-between. So all his Korean friends and some of mine were saying “You guys are boyfriend and girlfriend aren’t you? You are a couple.” And we’d say, “No, we are just getting to know each other and seeing how things go.” I know this started to get stressful for him because he couldn’t explain our relationship to other Koreans but he didn’t put pressure on me.

One of the reasons why I was hesitating about making our relationship official was because I knew he was a wonderful guy and if I said yes and we started dating properly, I knew that I’d marry him because I’d never be able to let him go. But, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that yet. I was never the type longing to settle down and be a wife and pop out babies. I had big plans! I wanted to see the world.

It soon became apparent that I’d never be able to give him up and we wanted to always be together, so we acknowledged we were now a couple. I also had started to realise that I didn’t necessarily have to give up any dreams to be with him. I can do all the things I want to do with him and in fact being with him opens up even more experiences than before. Every day I fell more and more in love with him. He is an extremely kind man and we are really well matched. He is enthusiastic and always open to trying new things, and discovering new things. And so funny. He makes me laugh so much. Sometimes I think he is a comic genius. He shows his humor in a way that is often so serious, that if someone doesn’t know him they may actually think he is being a bit dumb, but actually his understanding of humor and comedic timing is really good.

Here is a photo of us early on.

And when the Korean Navy was in town:

My parents loved him when they met him and said he was the best guy I’d ever dated. Once we were officially dating it didn’t take much longer than 6 months before marriage was talked about. It was quite early on that we knew we were going to marry each other but we didn’t announce it until after I’d met his family in Korea. That all went really well (none of that evil mother in law stuff like in Korean dramas) and the wedding planning started.

At about that time we had our visas issues. READ ABOUT IT HERE.

So we had three weddings. Our larger Australian wedding was earlier this year in April. Here are a few photos:

I’m still waiting to get digital copies of the professional photos of our traditional Korean wedding but once I do I’ll show some on here.

So now we live in Sydney, which is good because there are many Koreans here. Instead of expecting him to adopt Australian culture we aim to be bi-cultural. I never want him to give up his Korean-ness. We don’t have many problems with cultural differences and we have a rule that when we struggle with a cultural difference we can’t say “That’s wrong” but instead we should acknowledge that it’s just “different”. The things that are more difficult have nothing to do with cultural differences actually. Most Australian men that are the age of my husband (around the 30 mark) usually have a car, have a decent job, are putting a deposit on a house. But my husband has to start again in a new country so there are some struggles but nothing too difficult. Marrying him was the best thing I’ve ever done and I love that I’m constantly learning about another culture. We are really really happy… which I hope you can see from my blog!

AND…Tomorrow there will be a guest post where someone else will share their story!

Our Visa Story

We had planned to get the ‘Prospective Marriage Visa’ originally- when we first got engaged. My husband had used up all possible visas for Australia: both working holiday visas and student visas. The only way he could stay in Australia was if he got a visa because I’m an Australian citizen. While we were in Korea for a month I started preparing for the Prospective Marriage Visa. The information and requirements are immense and takes a while to wade through.

So that is our visa story! It is one of the biggest problems for couples that are from different countries. People don’t really understand how stressful it is unless they’ve been through it themselves. Although we got married then, we didn’t really count it as our real wedding yet. We didn’t become a real married couple until our big wedding. Both our parents were really supportive through it all and had no problems with us marrying quickly like that.

You do hear stupid comments from other people though. Some people seem to get weirdly annoyed when someone is given residency based on their relationship. And if someone marries to hurry along the visa process well….. watch out for stupid comments! You’ll hear people saying “There are other ways to get into Australia.” No there isn’t. It is really difficult to get sponsorship to stay in Australia. There is not just some miracle visa people can apply for to stay… the only way my husband could live in Australia was through his relationship to me.

Some Australians seem to think that it’s really easy to get into Australia! But of course anyone who has tried to go through the rigmarole of Australian Immigration knows otherwise. And if you marry someone from another country some people are suspicious. There were even comments from extended family members about how my husband would leave me after a few years because he was just using me to get into Australia…. Yup. A lot of stupid comments.

Not only is it difficult because of judgmental people but because there really are people who do fake marriages to get residency. Because of this, the process of getting this visa is upsetting and invasive. We had to show personal emails, photos, phone records… details of your life that are just between you and your partner you have to submit to some faceless immigration officer in an office!

One of the most frustrating aspects is that most people simply do not understand what you have to go through. If you complain about all the intimate details Immigration wants someone will just say, “But they need it for a reason.” They really do not understand how horrible the process is. We spent weeks and weeks spending almost every day putting together our application. My husband was on a tourist visa, he could not work, he could not study and technically he could be kicked out of the country if Immigration wanted to do that. Our backup plan, if he didn’t get the visa, was for me to just pack up my life and move to Korea with him. Not that ideal.

In the end we were so lucky. Most people wait months, some even years, before their visa is granted. My husband’s visa being granted in just 3 days was amazing!

If you are going through this visa process at the moment, I sympathize!

So we actually had three weddings. The registry office one in Australia to prove to Immigration that we were serious, our Australian wedding for all our family and friends and then our traditional Korean wedding in Korea. So question is… which anniversary should we celebrate???

Wedding Presents

This was for our Australian wedding. After everything finished we opened our presents. Some family and friends were with us as well and everyone laughed at my husband tearing open the presents while I sat reading the cards. His excuse was that it was difficult for him to read the handwritten English in the cards and he didn’t know who they were all from. He became interested when there was money in a card though!

Of course all our money is shared but he organises it. Traditionally in Korea (and Japan) the woman manages the money but we decided it is better that my husband does the managing. I’m a creative type and not exactly good with money (and we are poor newlyweds at the moment).

We got a lot of nice presents but haven’t used them yet, even though our wedding was months ago, because we haven’t found a new place to live in Sydney yet. We have them piled up in a spare room at my parent’s house. Sometimes I like to go in and just look at them and say “Mine mine! These are all mine!” Hehe, I’ve never owned such nice things before.

Your wedding in…?

Oh dear. This happened far too many times. At first I hoped it was just the slip of the tongue and they accidentally said the wrong name but really they knew we went to South Korea for our traditional wedding. Then I realised many people couldn’t actually remember where my husband was from, even though they’d met him and even had conversations with him. Is he just some generic Asian man to them? Asia is a country right?

The other disturbing thing is that people are assuming that somewhere like Thailand and South Korea are pretty much the same thing. This is so insulting to both Thai people and Koreans who have very different cultures. How are people this ignorant about other countries?

I know it annoys Koreans so much when people assume South Korea is some third world country. People who can’t think of one single thing they know about Korea while they watch their Samsung TV and then go drive their Kia car. While it’s easy to laugh at strangers who don’t know, it’s much sadder when it’s a good friend who is ignorant. Like a friend of my family who thought Japan was the capital city of China… even though my brother has been living in Japan for several years.

I really hope this changes. It is quite embarrassing how little some Australians know about the Asian region even though we are right next to it.

My Australian Wedding

We had two weddings. One in Australia and one in Korea. Here are photos from the Australian wedding. We wanted a small wedding and went for a vintage theme. My dress was originally made in the 1920’s so was 90 years old and very delicate! My veil is from here.

I’m sorry we don’t look like what we do in the comics… (I dyed my hair darker for the wedding as well).

All photos taken by Sheer Image Photography.


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