Want to Marry a Korean? Here’s 7 Things You Should Know!

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So without him knowing it, you’ve been planning on marrying G-dragon for a whole year now. And in your stalker mind, you’ve even dreamed up your own wedding! Well if it ever becomes a reality, make sure you know what’s expected of you if you’re marrying a Korean! (Weirdo :P)

Note: This is a list of common expectations for when Koreans marry other Koreans. But of course if you’re a non-Korean, you will become a multicultural family, and that means your Korean lover and his/her family will have to adjust to you as well. So not all may apply.

 

1. You’ll Need Mommy and Daddy’s Permission
Son, don’t you be marrying no crazies!”

So you’ve been dating that Korean for a while now and you’ve even got the whole Korean style proposal thing done. The girl’s got the ring and the boy’s got the swag. Congratulations! But it aiin’t official yet. Although getting married is about love, in Korea, many people also see marriage as a union of two families. And that means most marriage plans are on hold until the scary moment when both sides of the family meet. The families of the potential bride and groom will get together for an official dinner at a nice restaurant to make sure no one’s getting married to a family of crazies. And even if it’s a real life Korean drama love story full of childhood first kisses, life threatening diseases and sacrificial eye transplants, if the parents say no, then the wedding might not happen. (Of course, people sometimes go ahead and do it anyway. :P)

 

2. Parents will Pick up the Tab
“Daddy, Can you buy me a wedding?”

Weddings are expensive ordeals in any part of the world, and people everywhere don’t hesitate to spend butt loads of money on that one special day. And of course, weddings can be very expensive in Korea too. But if you’re still at the bottom working your way up to the top manager position at the local McDonalds, don’t worry too much. In Korea, most young people are broke too. That’s why most families will pay for their share of the wedding costs. That means most brides and grooms in Korea will not pay for the wedding themselves, but their families (parents) will. Korean parents see marrying off their children as their very last duty as a parent. Goodbye, so long, fare thee well young child. It’s a crazy butt load of money (see #3), but they’ll get it back. Big time (see #7).

3. Splitting Wedding Costs is Crazy Complicated
Or just avoid by marrying a Samsung heir

Wedding costs are always tricky arrangements for any marriage, and that’s why most families will figure out things amongst themselves (i.e. if one family is richer than the other, they may offer to cover more of the costs). So if you somehow convinced the heir to the Samsung empire to marry you, you’ll most likely get the most bomb wedding ever for basically just being an awesome husband or wife. For the rest of the not-so-lucky 99.999941%, many Korean families will split marriage costs like this:

Groom Side Bride Side
Wedding Ceremony (50%) Wedding Ceremony (50%)
Honeymoon (50%) Honeymoon (50%)
Apartment/Housing – the home itself (100%) Furnishings like furniture, appliances, etc. (100%)
Yemul (예물) – Wedding gift for the bride Yedan (예단) – Wedding gift for the groom’s family

Splitting wedding costs can be crazy complicated and that’s why we need the scientific chart above. It’s easy enough to see the wedding ceremony and honeymoon are usually split down the middle. But the groom’s side typically provides the payment for the home/apartment, and the bride’s side usually provides all the furnishings inside the home. Fair and simple enough to follow right?

Ok, now see if you can follow this! The gifts involved might be the cultural part you might not have known about. Yemul (예물) comes from an old tradition of giving a bridge wedding gifts of red and blue yarn. Unfortunately for modern day cash-strapped grooms, that usually translates to a matching jewelry set: diamond ring, earring and necklace (or other jewelry). But brides return the favor with yedan (예단), a gift for the groom’s family, typically a cash gift that equals 10% of the housing costs as well as gifts for the family such as nice silverware, bags, jackets, etc.

Of course, none of this is set in stone as it’s different for every marriage (especially true for multi-cultural marriages!). This one you’ll have to talk out with your future Korean spouse/in-laws.

 

4. You Might Not Get that Cool Korean Name You’ve Always Wanted
Unofficial ones are still gravy tho 😛

In many places in the world, it’s common for the bride to take the groom’s family name. Ms. Smith becomes Mrs. Johnson in many places everyday. But if you’ve ever made up a Korean name for yourself because you think they just sound so darn cool, your dream of having an official Korean name might not come true. In Korea, brides keep their family names, even after getting married. That means even if Seonmi Choi marries Kyungsu Park, she will still keep the name her daddy gave her, Choi. But if you’re kind of creepily obsessed with having an Korean name, there’s no law against it. You can still do it at city hall. :)

 

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Keith
Keith
Keith Kim is a Korean-American content producer based in Seoul. With his unique perspective and experience balancing these two cultures, he’s produced a guide on How to Survive in Korea - Survival Korean. Follow his journey at Gyopokeith.com, Facebook, and Instagram.

81 Comments

  1. Marisa says:

    Wow! It’s almost the same with Indonesian culture! Especially number 1,2 and 7~

  2. sarah t says:

    I’m always curious what is meant when people say “koreans see it as 2 families joining” through their son/daughters marriage. What does this mean? Is it meaning their blood line? their….? What are they joining?
    Whenever my korean girl friends got married, they always complained that they never saw their families on holidays and always had to husbands side…in addition weekends were also often taken up by husband’s side family activities & events. In america, it is usually equally split and/or often times the two families often do JOIN together for holidays, events, backyard bbq’s, etc.

    • luvely004 says:

      2 families meet means after marriage both families become one.. Now they are real relatives. nd after marriage aS GIRLS LIVE WITH HER HUSBAND ALONG WITH husband’s family,so she cant get much time to meet her own familY..this tradition is same in india too.I guess in whole ASIA..:)

  3. future wife says:

    Hahhahaha marry g dragon!! Lol!!!!!!

  4. Chantal says:

    Interesting! My family is from Congo and the meeting of the families (long process), wedding gifts, parents paying, then parents coming to live with you is very common. Also the woman retains her last name and spends most of her time with the grooms family…unless they live far far away. Cultures can seem so different, but be very similar sometimes.

  5. gs says:

    I am not lucky enough my girlfriend family are poor
    no need to marry

  6. Tryon says:

    Awesome and fabulous information :) Thank you Keith ssi, Kyeung Eun ssi, TTMIK

  7. hekita says:

    gs — 화이팅!!!!

  8. Ann says:

    So much shade in this article. Tips + subtle insults smh

  9. TK says:

    Haha.
    Hardcore Bowing. ㅋㅋㅋ

  10. Batur says:

    These are nearly the same with Turkish culture. Interesting

  11. Badriah says:

    Just same as Saudi Arabian wedding , and all Arabs country we still keep our family name and don’t follow the groom family name .

  12. Vanessa says:

    Great post! Something else that surprised me about Korean weddings is that you invite EVERYONE, and everyone is basically required to attend… and give you at least 50,000won ($50) each. We went to my boss’s wedding, and all of our coworkers went… in fact, we were told, “Your job might depend on it.” haha. And to get into the wedding itself, you had to give 50,000won in an envelope with your name on it and then you could enter the wedding site. There were like 400 people at the wedding and most didn’t even see the ceremony, they just were in the lobby and then went to eat food at the buffet. haha

    • KoreaGirl says:

      Yes. But it’s very give and take culture. If you get the money from someone, you have to in near future pay back same amount of money or more if you want. That’s kinda mutual agreement for both party. There is no free lunch in Korea.

      And, #3 brides return the favor with yedan (예단), a gift for the groom’s family, typically a cash gift that equals 10% of the housing costs as well as gifts for the family such as nice silverware, bags, jackets, etc.

      —> This is only if the groom’s parents buy their son apartment (they call it condo in USA) or house. Then Brides return the favor. it’s really give and take as well. If groom is buying his house with lots of mortgage, and bride is working and can pay it together, this kinda couple usually just use their money for their own. (paying off mortgage, prepare for expense for their babies… etc..) As far as I know, many young people these days, they don’t follow this much. My brother didn’t and I didn’t. It’s really practical choice groom and bride can make for their life together.

  13. rina says:

    Its NOT only Indonesia or saudi arabia, there are many
    countries who are the same in some of the 6 things that they said here.
    There are other asian countries where its quite the same ,
    like or example Thailand, same there!

  14. Karin says:

    Cool post, funny comments, love the GD shoutout. Love the style its written in. Feel like I got the info from a cool onni. =)

  15. Von Nola says:

    Good post and interesting.

  16. kim says:

    But the grom can keep their names as well rigth? I don’t whant to be named kim kim lol

  17. nabi says:

    Ahh i love this article really informative..
    Haha how you know I waned to Mary jiyongie (GD) jk^_>

  18. shwetha says:

    it nice to read. wish i could marry one korean awwwwwwwwwwwwww:)

  19. ylrem28 says:

    Your comment..i wish i could marry 1 korean….

  20. GIM says:

    I would love to marry a Korean, especially one that looks like one of the young ladies that appear in the K-dramas. It is my wife who objects. My daughter would be willing to go along it with as long as she has the money to finish college next year. My son is totally opposed. He still has three years of law school to finish, and a Korean step-mother, even one who looks like Yoon Eun Hye, would deflect me from giving him the support he thinks he deserves.

    I don’t think you can help me, so I am not asking. But having read your article, I think that I would go for it in a different universe.

  21. Andrew says:

    Unless you will be living far from your bride’s / groom’s family… think twice about marrying a Korean. They will never accept a foreigner into their family. You will get lots of smiles and kind gestures when you are around… and backstabbing nasty comments about you as soon as you aren’t around. No matter how much you love your other half.. your marriage will always suffer at the hands of the family. And never ever ever get tangled into the family business.. Korean culture is fun on TV, fun while dating, fun while on vacation, but a complete pain in the ass once you are married.

    • Keith says:

      Sorry about your experience dude. Hope it works out like the other happy married international couples out there :)

      • kalaivani says:

        Annyong haseyo…..Hai sir….im from malaysia….I really eager to learn korean language. …

        now I can understand all the basic words…..

    • Dan says:

      Be much slower to generalize, Andrew. I am an old Peace Corps Korea volunteer (for the curious among you, Peace Corps was in Korea from 1966 – 1981. Yes, I’m old – I already said that :P) married for nearly 40 years to an old Peace Corps Korea language teacher. My mother-in-law was a college professor who not only was very accepting, but she wrote my name into the 호적, a very gracious gesture that I didn’t fully understand at the time. Lest you think this is not a traditional family, this is the 민 family – something else I didn’t fully understand at the time, but sure as shooting do now that I’m one of the oldest men in my generation. We have lived in the US for most of our marriage, but will retire to Korea shortly, at least in part because I love and enjoy my family in Korea.

  22. jerry4ajus says:

    Your comment…can a korea get married to an africa woman e.g nigeria,gana etc

  23. 57412_51617 says:

    one of typical eastern asian marriage is family union, many of people are nervous even afraid of this phase, because it’s like defining point whenever you’ll marry the princess-looking girlfriend or seong sung hon like boyfriend, here in indonesia especially Chinese descendant are very important to secure the family ‘retirement policy’

  24. MissyBoba says:

    My Fiancee is Korean and we are currently living with his parents. I get up with the family and do the housework, I also cook for them and translate when My fiancee cannot. I’m still learning Korean so I have to learn everything slowly, I’m still learning cultural things such as drinking alcohol, fetching things for family members and speaking in general. I feel it is a lot of work but, I wouldn’t trade it. He is the only boy so it seems his parents will end up living with us. There is still much to learn, but we are waiting on the permission to marry. Hopefully that will happen sometimes soon C:

  25. mike says:

    “But if you’re kind of creepily obsessed with having an Korean name, there’s no law against it.”

    In a culture that generally punishes anyone for thinking different or being different (like JP), it’s OBVIOUS why anyone who marries a Korean would want to ‘blend’ in as much as possible. It doesn’t make them a creep/psycho. Can you imagine if their kids have a western first/last name? They’d be ostracized in school!

    • Monkeyfuzz says:

      Yeah, I think that’s the one line here that I found ignorant, instead of funny. With many foreign women who take their Korean husband’s last name, it’s not because they’re “creepily obsessed” with having a Korean name so much. I think it’s more because of their native culture, and what the formation of a family is to them. So Korean women don’t do that ~ ~ ~ so what? I never even knew anything about Korean before meeting my husband, so I certainly wasn’t going on candy-puff dreams of watching K-dramas, & longing for a Korean name of my own.
      Yeah, I’m possibly taking this too seriously. Point is, Korean-Koreans shouldn’t get it in their head that the reason for taking their husband’s surname is cuz they’re obsessed and want to be just a bit more Korean. 😉

  26. alexandra says:

    Nice post,its funny though but trust me i cant marry and retain my family name

  27. Lina says:

    That first line about GD creeped me out.. how did you read my mind!? Haha

  28. Trisy Maria says:

    I’m thinking of marrying a Korean .. Well somehow this article teaches me a lot about marrying a Korean .. Even after reading it and some of the comments, I’m still going to marry my Korean love ..

  29. Jennifer says:

    Hi!

    Love this post, but you have six twice! So, might wanna make that seven things, not six.

    Anyway, that just goes to show how closely I read it!^^ Love the site, keep up the great work!

    – wgeb

    • Ramin says:

      Hi Dear Jennifer
      Yes, the article explain 6 items, and the seven items is your heart.
      Best Regards,
      Ramin

  30. Cate says:

    I LMAO when I read the first line, lol @ marrying GDragon! Very nice and funny post that made my day! Oh I love counting my new year money muahaha!

  31. omorhirhi jennifer says:

    I love Korea people through watching their movies,I believe they display their culture through their movies. I really want to learn Korea language but I need a sponsor to help me get to Korea and register in their language school and I also wish to marry a Korea man

  32. James says:

    Sorry but I have to disagree with the above article as this seems to stereotype a typical Korean wedding between Korean only families. I am married to a Korean (and have seven other friends in mixed marriages with Koreans) and none of the above was relevant to our weddings. Once different cultures are in the mix, this goes right out of the window and it tends to be a lot more relaxed. For example, my wife and I actually paid for the wedding rather than hassling our families, we didn’t need her family’s permission and she has taken my surname.

    I wouldn’t let any of this put people off marrying a Korean!

    • Keith says:

      Hi James,

      Yes i did put in that disclaimer several times. Different cultures will def make things different

      • Lisa says:

        Some of these people need to get their panties untwisted!! Lol

        So why did you go to live in Korea? I noticed a lot of Korean-Americans do that.

    • Tyson says:

      Hi James, Can you please explain how a Korean Wife can change her previous last name (such as “Lee”) with her husbands last name (such as “Jones”)

  33. nina says:

    wow…..number 1 2 3 5 6 7 are the same in Iran.
    i’ve heard that korean lifstyle is near to iranian

  34. Elle Tan says:

    this article makes me think twice to marry Korean, unfortunately i’m planning to marry korean american

    the part of yedan, worry me, because i dont have parents who can support this tradition, even to handle the wedding cost, i have to work that out by myself.
    and that also because i dont like other to take the burden as this is going to be my wedding, so i like to take the resposibility along with my future husband.

    dont get me wrong, i am more than willing to give father n mother inlaw anything they want, if i can afford ones. but reality didnt go as i wish :(

    • BWW says:

      If you are marrying korean-american, I don’t think your parents in law actually want you to buy something expensive to them. Recently even in Korea, Yedan and Yemul is considered beyond the reality and to cause a little problem between two families, so some koreans reduce quantities of them in minimum, keeping exchanging gifts as a part of wedding tradition(my brother and his wife did so). Further, I think koreans living in America(his parents) know they live not in Korea and should forget what they want in some parts for their kid’s wedding. You might need to see them with your future husband and tell them properly about your situation and your thought. Talking is better than assumption to solve a problem.

  35. NaNa says:

    Haha, this made me laugh and cringe at the same time. I am Croatian, my fiance is Korean, and already things are complicated enough.. all we need is THIS.. Hmmmm . These traditions sound like outdated Croatian wedding traditions. Some are cute, some just outright cray-cray.

    As for your overview of them, it was quite informative. I shall accept it as a hypothesis, test it next year, and hopefully live to write and post about it myself. :)

    You can check out the end-result here:

    https://www.facebook.com/KimchiSarmaDelight

    or here:

    http://hanakokanovic.wordpress.com/

    Kindest regards,
    NaNa

  36. Generally I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite great post.

  37. Monkeyfuzz says:

    I think this article is a great heads-up, and intro to some things non-Koreans might want to know in heading in to marriage with a Korean.

  38. Missy says:

    LOL @ Marrying G-Dragon, How did you know?! I enjoy reading your articles…. very informative.

  39. hy..i like korean people..
    they are cute and beautiful..
    but its my desire to gett marry with korean girl…
    but if there is any intrested girle who want can contect me..
    facebook id:[email protected]

  40. carla marsha says:

    Its funny
    I found this article randomly and its tickling much
    still me prefer local men that Korean
    its all about tribe, different yet complicated
    but its quite same with mine hardcore bowing, is it really happened ? hahaha
    nice article :)

    guys lets be friend, I am looking for a friend from different / same country that’s doesn’t matter its my email
    [email protected]

    sorry for this fraud comment, thank you

  41. zainab says:

    well, i like the information, some of them are the same as what we have her in Dubai. is it ok for korean men to marry a girl from the gulf? like an Arabian girl from Dubai ?.. and do they care about the religion ? 😀

    • Wallah says:

      Although it depends.. As a Korean myself, I think Korean never care about religion so much. At least, it is OK for me!

      • Wallah says:

        Plus, I have heard that there is a dowry in Arab cultures. We don’t have it. However, as you read in this article, Korean man usually prepare a house (by himself or from the help of his parents).

        So, more specifically, housing charge for living in Seoul would be more than 400,000$ (USD)..
        I think this is quite higher than dowry in arab. (as far as I googled, it was +14,000$ in UAE.)
        I think Korean guys are pity!!

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  44. John says:

    Ever thought about writing the “masculinity” of Korean men in Korea?

    Correction: total lack there of. Part of it has to do with our upbringing being too smothering and controlling. The whole damn country prefers metrosexuality over classic manliness like Daniel Craig. Little K pop kids from ages 16-24 dressed like clowns with is their idea of a real man.

  45. Tina says:

    it’s very similar to here in Egypt, it’s about 80% similar and the remaining 20% is the pure Korean culture

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  47. Akira says:

    Is It really that way or did it change a little?
    And what can you say about marriage to japanese man?

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  50. dd says:

    that’s great

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  52. Rehan Khalid says:

    If whoes have realy one love please…but loly….honesty girl…

  53. pyeja says:

    nice information . korean culture almost like malaysian wedding culture.malaysian bride also didn’t have to change thier name :)

  54. Kayla says:

    I want to marry Taeyang. Does anybody know how I can make that happen? I don’t know how to meet him.

  55. hanni says:

    Gumap seubnida(is it right?) Keith
    Annyong haseyo
    I’m from Solo, Central Java, Indonesia.
    Well, more and less …seems the Asian countries have similarity for several sides. Especially about parents and the big family. I think merry for Asian is not only unite the two persons crazy in love but also unite both side of the big family. So If I plan to merry someone not only for Korean, my future husband and I have and need to combine it with good communication between us.
    Good luck everybody, have a nice day.

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