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!