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Marriage in South Korea
We American parents do not want to cling to our children. We fear we will cripple them emotionally, and they will not "make it" on their own. Most of us do not assume our children will support us when we are old, and most dare not expect to live with them when we can no longer care for ourselves.
We require no specific obligations from our children beyond a vaguely defined respect that includes burying us. In our old age we often try to ask as little as possible from them,preferring independence to "being a burden.
Most Koreans find this bewildering and inhuman. Most would not agree that they, as individuals, should think of themselves as separate from their parents and families. The close family ties and dependencies valued so highly in Korea might seem unhealthy to us; we think a child's sense of autonomy necessary to mental health.
To Koreans such autonomy is not a virtue. Children incur a debt to their parents who gave birth to them and raised them. This debt lies behind the idea of filial duty: treating parents respectfully at all times, taking care of them in their old age, mourning them well at proper funerals, and performing ceremonies for them after their deaths.
Even fulfilling these duties, however, is not enough to repay the debt to one's parents. The full repayment also entails having children and maintaining the continuity of the family line. The continuity of the family is thus a biological fact which human society, in accordance with natural law, should reflect. Man's existence does not begin with a cut-off point called birth. Nor does it end with death as a terminus.
A part of him has been in continuous biological existence from his very first progenitor. A part of him has been living, in existence, with every one of the intervening ancestors. Now he exists as part of that continuum. After his death, apart of him continues to exist as long as his biological descendants continue to live. Koreans incorporate the fact of biological continuity into their family life according to ancient ideas of birth and conception.
Mothers traditionally were thought to produce the flesh of their children, and fathers to provide the bones. As bone endures longer than flesh,kinship through males was thought more binding than through females.
Even today men pass on membership in their clan to their children,while women do not. Thus, although maternal second cousins may marry,no one with any degree of kinship through males, no matter how remote,can.
More than Japanese and Chinese, Koreans adhere to traditionalConfucian principles of family organization. Confucius 6th centuryB. The state, indeed the universe, was the family writ large—with the Chinese emperor, the patriarchal link to cosmic forces through rituals he performed , and the Korean king his younger brother.
This conception of the universities the warm feelings of attachment and dependence generated within the family to all human relationships. Confucians celebrated this link with a symbol of smaller circles within larger, the ever widening sphere of human relationships from the self, to the family, to society, to the universe.
Blood-ties make affection spontaneous among kin. Even beasts and fowl share this faculty with human beings. Kinship provides the primary interpersonal context in which a child learns to give and receive affection with other human beings.
With this preparation, a child extends his network of human interaction with non-kin. A person who is capable of strong emotional involvement with others is regarded as possessing ample humanity.
Intense emotion denotes powerful interpersonal commitment. Affection warms even the heart of the dead.
It alleviates the numbing cold of a burial chamber. Though Koreans thought blood relationships natural and ideal starting points for good relationships outside the family, they never assumed that happy family life emerged spontaneously. Harmony and smooth flow of affection were seen as the result of proper patriarchal regulation of women and children.
The family should be run as a "benevolent monarchy," the eldest male as household head. Sons remained home after they married, while daughters went to live with their husbands'families. Although historically younger sons and their wives eventually split from their extended families after a few years of marriage, they lived nearby, socially dependent on their grandfathers, fathers and elder brothers. Eldest sons succeeded to the family leadership and inherited the bulk of the wealth.
They did not leave their extended families because they were responsible for their aged parents. When their parents died, eldest sons adhered to complex mourning restrictions for one to three years, and conducted annual memorial ceremonies for their parents and other members of their family line.
As long as there were sons to take over family leadership when their fathers died, families were maintained indefinitely. Young children in Korea were and are indulged; toilet training was relaxed, and discipline began much later than in American families. Koreans felt there was no point disciplining children before they were old enough to reason. By the time a child reached six or seven,however, training began in earnest: parents began the strict separation of girls and boys, in accordance with Confucian ethics, and they trained children to use the respectful voice to those older or more socially prominent.
By the time he reached seven a boy knew that he must use the respectful mode of speech to his older brother, and he knew that failure to do so would result in swift and certain punishment. Boys from most families were taught to read and write the native Korean alphabet Han'gul , and in many families, to read and write classical Chinese as well.
Girls,however, were considered "outsiders who will leave the family," and the majority were not taught to read or write even the Korean alphabet. A girl by seven usually knew her position in the family was inferior to her brothers' because when she married she left the family.
Under the old family system parents arranged marriages without the consent of their children, either female or male. Since daughters left their parents to live with their husbands' families, marriage was often traumatic for them. New wives, of course, tried to please their husbands, but more important, they had to please their mothers-in-law.
The mother-in-law directed the new wife in her housework and had the power to send the bride back home in disgrace if the bride seriously displeased her.
Sometimes this adjustment was hard for the bride. A humorous Korean proverb says that a new bride must be "three years deaf, three years dumb, and three years blind. She should not lose her temper and say things she might regret later, better not to talk at all. Since she should not criticize anything in her new house, she would be better off blind.
Most daughters-in-law adjusted to their new lives because most mothers-in-law were glad to have a good daughter-in-law to help with the housework. Once the daughter-in-law had a son, her place in the family was secure. The Confucian ideal of strict separation of males and females led to division of labor into inside and outside work.
Men labored outside,taking care of major field crops, while women worked inside doing housework, spinning, weaving and cooking. Poor women had no choice but to work in the fields, at least occasionally, but the more elite a family, the more unlikely its women would be seen outside the house compound.
Traditional Koreans glorified the modest gentry woman who died in a burning house rather than leave her seclusion. Although this division of labor was a matter of principle for the elite, ordinary people found it a matter of practical survival. For farming households, the inside-outside division worked well; women could stay home with their children while working.
But where this division of labor undermined economic survival, other divisions were adopted—despite the loss of family status in deviating from theConfucian ideal. For example, in fishing villages on islands off the south coast of Korea, male and female roles were regularly reversed. In these nonagricultural areas, women provided family income by diving for seaweed, shellfish and other edibles. In other parts of Korea women sometimes earned a living as shamans, religious specialists who tended to the spiritual welfare of their clients by performing ceremonies for them.
After liberation from the Japanese in , Korean scholars and lawyers revised Korea's legal structure. They revised family, as well as commercial, law to accommodate relationships more suited to the industrial society they hoped to build. Now most Koreans live in cities and work in factories or large companies and no longer farm. Large extended families, which cannot fit into crowded city apartments, are difficult to maintain. Since people often move to find work, eldest sons often cannot live with their parents.
The New Civil Code of legalized changes favoring these new conditions. Essentially, the new code weakened the power of the house head and strengthened the husband-wife relationship. Today the house head cannot determine where family members live. The eldest son can now leave home against his father's will. Husbands and wives share the power to determine the education and punishment of the children.
Children can decide on their own marriages, and parental permission is not required if they are of age. Younger sons leave their parents to form their own families when they marry, and the house head no longer has the legal right to manage all family property. Since implementation of the New Civil Code, all children have equal claim to their parents' property.
The marriage system had already changed by World War II. Some families allowed children to meet and approve prospective spouses. The experience of the politician Kim Yongsam during the s is typical of marriages among non-traditionalists, even before the revision of the legal code. Kim recalls that his family sent him a deceptive telegram informing him that his beloved grandfather was dying. Rushing home Kim found he had been lured into a trap. His family pressed him to do his duty as eldest son and marry immediately.
Reluctantly he agreed to go with a friend of the family who had arranged visits to the homes of prospective brides-- three in the morning, three more in the afternoon. The woman he eventually married impressed him with her ability to discuss Dostoevsky and Hugo. Kim's parents were liberal but in the past 30 years children have gained even more control over who they marry.
Love matches are no longer frowned upon, but arranged marriages are still more common. Couples and their parents have formal meetings infancy tearooms to size each other up, and some go through dozens of these meetings before finding a partner. Even couples who marry for love often ask their parents to arrange the marriage to observe traditional good form.
Korean Mail Order Brides
Why is it that more men than women are having affairs to women? How does we stop these problems from happening to all of us? Here are some on the common reasons why men marry, and the various problems that might arise. The Korean tradition is very totally different from other civilizations. Since so many different people add up, and the lifestyle demands that you adapt yourself, it takes a few getting used to.
We American parents do not want to cling to our children. We fear we will cripple them emotionally, and they will not "make it" on their own. Most of us do not assume our children will support us when we are old, and most dare not expect to live with them when we can no longer care for ourselves. We require no specific obligations from our children beyond a vaguely defined respect that includes burying us.
Marrying a Citizen of South Korea? How to Get a Green Card for Your New Spouse
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They take great care when it comes to how they present themselves and are always dazzling and fresh. They appear to be blessed with unique DNA that makes them seem or look forever young. Korean girls also go to great lengths to become skilled at the nuances of their communication skills and generally accept their traditional roles in marriage by allowing the man to take the lead without any reservation. It may be true that everyone is different, but Korean singles share related cultural expectations and values. Their focus is to get married as soon as possible — as culture dictates — before they become older and less desirable.
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From Pyongyang with love: defectors find a perfect match with South Korean men
Marriage in South Korea mirrors many of the practices and expectations of marriages in other societies, and, as such, is constantly changing. Marriage in South Korea is currently restricted to unions between individuals of the opposite sex as same-sex marriages remain unrecognized. So, if you're 19 in international age, it means you can get married in South Korea, because you're consider as 20 in South Korea.
Dating had never been easy for Kim Jeong-soon. It was with a certain reservation, then, that she went on a blind date with a South Korean man three years ago; Kim Jong-il — whose name in the south is pronounced slightly differently to the late North Korean dictator. They dined on fried chicken and beer and launched right into conversations about marriage, divorce and what a future together might look like. Six months after that first date they were married. Not only was it a cause for celebration for them, it was another success story for the woman who arranged their meeting. Han Yoo-jin has helped about couples marry since she started her matchmaking company, Love Storya, four years ago.