Here’s our second installment of Korea Q&A with your homeboy Keith! Enjoy!
Keith: Apparently, Koreans are uber hot commodities on the marriage market. This question comes in the inbox, Facebook messages and Morse code literally every week. And even though this question was asked in last week’s Q&A, I refused to bite. That’s because whatever I say will make a few Korean netizens crazy. (Seriously, they’re flipping insane!). But ok… they can’t mess with no stats right??
In 2012, the number of international marriages in Korea were 28,325. Most of the marriages were Korean men marrying women from other Asian countries (highest % in order: China, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, USA, Mongolia, etc.). Korean women were involved in less international marriages, but with more non-Asian men (% in order: Japan, China, USA, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, Pakistan). (Source).
But the numbers might be misleading, and the Korean drama mama love stories you’re thinking of are probably not what happened with most of these marriages. Many of the marriages (mostly Korean men + foreigner brides) are from marriage agencies that’ll setup men with these foreign women. Also, the Chinese people that are married here are usually Korean-born Chinese peeps. So basically, they’re just marrying other Koreans that have bonus Mandarin skillz.
As for what people think? It’s the same in any country! You might not care, but you probably know a few folks that are more traditional and don’t think international marriages are so awesome. And most of them tend to be older (thank you Captain Obvious?). But of course there are people that don’t care at all, no matter the age. So again… the answer is the same. It depends!
Helen Yue asks:
Keith: I don’t think dates aren’t anything extra special in Korea. Movies, amusement parks, musicals, museums, & dinner and coffee. That’s normal isn’t it? Unless… I’ve been missing out on all the good stuff??
As for the couple shirts, not everyone does it because they think it’s embarrassing just like you! But the people that do it don’t think of it that way at all! (Well… maybe some boyfriends that are forced into it :P). It’s mostly a younger couple thing, but they mostly do it because they’re proud to be in a relationship and want to show off. It’s a way of saying: “Hey! I’m in a couple! What, what!!!”
Justine Kimchi Santos asks:
Keith: Hola senorita (senor?) kimchi! Korea is still pretty conservative when it comes to la homosexualidad (K, no more Spanish. I had to Google that, haha :)). I hear a lot of stories of Korean gays just staying in the closet for fear of being disowned by their families. Actually, someone I know personally is gayer than Tom Cruise rollerblading in hot pants. Everyone agrees. But he won’t ever admit it (even though I’ve seen him kiss another man in a “I want to boom shakalaka” kind of way). My guess is because he’s afraid of his family’s reaction. It’s kind of sad, but when it comes to LGBT rights, Korea’s not as quick to change as other countries.
But with that said, I think gay foreigners get a kind of “oh, he’s just being a wacky foreigner” free pass. A lot of people might look at your friend a bit funny if he’s hugging and kissing his boyfriend in public because PDA isn’t always so cool in Korea (even for straight people!). But if there’s not too much touchy stuff involved, there’s usually nothing to look at. On an individual level, a lot of younger people are like… “You’re gay? Cool! Let’s be friends!.” (But of course different for every individual.)
See our video on Touching the Opposite Sex in Korea.
Mia Utopian asks:
Keith: This is the most random question ever. I like it! No, there are no lizards in the Corea. Well… there are some in rivers and you know nature-y places. But personally, I’ve never seen one. You’re safe homegirl :).
Glenn Davies Parham asks:
Keith: Aww, dude, I always feel bad for Korean high school kids. They study like CRAJEE, man. The majority of them wake up early, go to school, stay after school to study, go to more after-school programs (called hagwon) to study, go to another after-school program, go home to do their homework, finally sleep, and then start again in the morning. It’s insane, yo! Korean kids are really overworked. I feel for them, really I do.
But they’re still kids, and I see them hanging around all the time. A lot of them have boyfriends and girlfriends too. I’m guessing they don’t have as much time as kids in other countries, but they still find the time to do stuff :).
Łukasz Orlaś asks:
Keith: HI LUKASZ. YOU TYPE LIKE MY DAD WHEN HE FIRST LEARNED HOW TO TYPE! But maybe you’re typing like that to show that you’re not cool with it. So let me tell you what’s up. Up until a few years ago, it was still acceptable to hit children in school. It was a really common, but old Korean way of discipline. But then a law passed making hitting kids in school illegal. It was only recently, so some really old school teachers still have that mindset. So yeah, it still happens, but only sometimes. It’s a changing times my friend. Parents are suing teachers and schools and that’s scaring the poop out of everyone. But even scarier are kids and their smartphone cameras!
Mic DBernardo asks:
안 맵게 만들어 주세요 (an maepge mandeuleo juseyo) – Make it not spicy, please.
And here’s some more helpful phrases just cause 🙂
덜 맵게 만들어 주세요 (deol maepge mandeuleo juseyo) – Make it less spicy, please.
매운 거 못 먹어요 (maeun geo mot meogeoyo) – I can’t eat spicy things.
너무 매워요 (neomu maewoyo) – It’s too spicy.
매워 죽겠어요 (maewo jukgesseoyo) -It’s so spicy, I think I’ll die!
James Flowers asks:
Keith: I actually don’t have my own driver’s license here in Korea. Seriously, I literally drove maybe 4 times in 10 years, man. It’s crazy. Do not let me drive your babies anywhere, ok?
I can trade in my US driver’s license for a Korean one if I want to, but I don’t really see the need for it. That and I’m just really lazy, too. I heard getting a driver’s license the Korean way sucks. From what I understand, you have to pay a few million won (thousand USD) to take a course for a few months. And then take the test. It’s expensive and long from what I hear. So most residents just trade in their home country driver’s license for a Korean one.
If you’re in Seoul and you have your own car, that’s cool and all. But you don’t really need it too much because public transportation is pretty awesome. I get everywhere in Seoul no problem. It might be harder in other cities or rural areas, but infrastructure in Seoul is cheap, efficient and quick.