Marriage and Relationships in Seoul, Korea - 82
The way of approaching marriage and finding a partner is very different from in the West. In one of my conversation classes, ‘Marriage and Relationships’ was the topic of conversation between five intermediate level students and myself. The story from one businessman was interesting. He unsuccessfully pursued one young lady for several months, but in the end he made a proposition. ‘Come out with me just ten times and then we will decide if we will be married’. I mention this story because it in many ways is very typical of stories I heard on many occasions, from my students. The feeling is that, when getting together with a partner, one is very seriously considering the person as a potential wife/husband.
In many ways, I personally like this style in that people are clear about what they are looking for. In another way though, it seems as though dating becomes very serious, very quickly. Marriage is a very serious matter in Korean history and in modern day Korea. Many female students I have taught, who are in their late twenties, have had no boyfriend and they are under-pressure from their family to get married. The magic age of thirty is still sub-consciously considered by many parents to be the age when their child should be married. This is changing a little these days, but age thirty is still the unofficially benchmark.
It was very interesting, at the beginning of the year, when I asked several students what their ‘New years Resolutions’ were for the year. One in every two girls would comment that they would get married. On further questioning, it became clear, with the exception of one of the girls, that they had no boyfriends, yet they were still planning to get married. The unwritten rules of marriage in Korea are also very different from the West. Some Korean families for example, expect their eldest daughter to marry before the younger daughter/s.
This can put even more pressure of the older daughter to find a partner to marry. Another interesting difference from the West is the emphasis in Korea on the importance of blood type. A person’s blood type is considered important to some young people and asking what blood type a perspective partner is, can be important, although not critically important.