Monday, April 25, 2011

Love and marriage in Korea

Double-post day - demanding, I know! But actually the last post was from last Thursday, I just never got around to publishing it on the day. Once you read it, hopefully you'll understand why I had to post again.

First things first, this is not and never will be a dating blog. My parents and other family friends read this blog, so while there are a few dating blogs by foreigners in Korea that I enjoy reading, I don't intend to follow in their fairly candid footsteps. But there are some things that deserve a mention, and one of these things is the blind date. Upon meeting someone, the first thing a Korean person will ask you is your age and whether you are married or not. Sometimes if you're a foreigner, this aspect will excite more curiousity and they'll ask you where you're from first or second after enquiring about your age, but usually it cannot compete with the mystery of your relationship status. Now I don't know about anyone else but if someone at home was asking this question straight off the bat I'd assume that they were interested in the person that they were asking about, so it took me a while to become comfortable enough with this question to just answer it straight away without looking embarrassed and I still find it a weird question to open a conversation with.

So back to the story - I rocked up to school at 9 to find everyone standing outside in the yard for an assembly. Normally I start half an hour later twice a week to compensate for the extra half hour at the end of the day that I teach so that the time falls within my contractual 8 hour day/22 teaching hours and the school doesn't have to pay me extra (which I am fine with! I do love my sleep^^) If there's something important on of course I'll come at the regular time.. as long as I know about it. Which today I did not. As I'd have to walk past everyone to go inside I just waited it out and went up to one of the teachers standing near the entrance to ask what was going on. He very nicely explained that it was the welcoming ceremony for the new student teachers. There was a pause. Then came the age/marriage question. Now I haven't ever actually talked to this teacher before and I don't even know his name - he's one of the new ones this year and I'm not in the main office any more so I'm not as obvious as I was  last year. But somehow I managed to make a good enough impression on him in the space of about three minutes (two of which we stood in silence) and with one sentence for him to offer to set me up on a blind date. And not only a blind date, but a blind date with his only son. As a dad and not his wingman friend it's pretty safe to say that this will be the kind of date where you suss each other out as potential husband/wife (the Korean approach to dating is another often discussed subject, but to summarise, it's basically with the goal of marriage very firmly in sight rather than the Western style where establishing the relationship comes before you consider where it might lead to). Apparently this boy is 31, 184cm tall and works at a company near Cheongju University. OK. However, when I asked if this marvelous son spoke any English, his dad laughed and said "Why would he need to speak English? You speak Korean." I answered that it can be hard to express myself in Korean because I'm still learning, but apparently this is something I'll grow out of, so I have a dinner date sometime with this son (whose name I also do not know).

So that was a funny start to the morning and it made me smile a little at the randomness of Korean life. I wondered if perhaps this had happened because the teacher couldn't think of anything else to say.

Apparently that wasn't it because another teacher, Ms Yu, also offered to set me up on a blind date with her friend's younger brother after lunch. But at least this was a more conventional occasion - we'd actually talked before and she waited until we were having tea in the office and were chatting about random things to ask me if I was married. And she also understood about the language barrier problem. Moral of the story: women are much better at these things than men. (DUHHHH!)

Anyway, the last funny marriage-related thing today is a message that one of the teachers sent through our school's messenger system. Apparently an ajumma put this ad in a newspaper offering her husband for sale. Here's a rough translation (trying to keep the sale tone).

 남편 팝니다. [Husband for sale]
 사정상 급매합니다. [Sale due to circumstances]
 ㅇㅇㅇㅇ년 △월 □예식장에서 구입했습니다. [Was purchased in/Married since ㅇㅇㅇㅇ]
 한때 아끼던 물건(♥) 이었으나 유지비도 많이 들고
 성격장애가 와 급매합니다. [Was once a well-loved product, but now must sell due to high maintenance and personality incompatability]
 구입 당시 A급인 줄 착각해서 구입했습니다. [Mistook the goods for A-grade quality at time of purchase]
 마음이 바다 같은 줄 알았는데 잔소리가 심해서
 사용시 만족감이 떨어집니다. [Thought his heart was as deep as the ocean but due to increasing nagging product has become less satisfying with use]
 음식물 소비는 동급의 두 배입니다. [(Also) consumes twice the normal amount of food]
 다행히 외관은 아직 쓸 만합니다. [Luckily his outer appearance is still quite impressive]
 AS 안 되고, 변심에 의한 반품 또한 절대 안 됩니다. [No after service ofference, and will not take returns if you change your mind]
 덤으로 시어머니도 드립니다. [Comes with mother-in-law add-on]

Haha ^_^

1 comment:

  1. OMG... I died! That has to be the funniest sales ad I've ever seen!

    The whole dating/marriage thing is really hard to get used to... I still have to fight the impulse to shout "none of your business" when I get asked those questions! This blog is too funny :).