My Korean Husband and Me: Being Bi-cultural
This is a guest post from the author of the blog ‘My Korean Husband‘
Hello! I’m an Australian woman married to a Korean man… and I draw comics. In the comic above I tried to convey that each scene could be happening in Korea, until the final frame where it’s revealed that it’s actually all in Australia!
My husband and I aim to be bi-cultural, meaning that instead of one of us just adopting the other’s culture completely, we try to get a balance of both. Luckily at the moment we live in Sydney where there is a big Korean community so it’s easy for us to eat Korean food, buy Korean products, have Korean friends, and even go to a Korean church. It’s really important to us to have all that available to us.
My husband is not Korean Australian, he is a Korean man who has spent most of his life in Korea. It’s easy for me to see Australian culture everywhere here so we have to work harder at making sure we are surrounded by enough Korean culture. My husband is very proud of being Korean and he just happened to marry an Australian woman, which is why I never expected him to become like an Australian man. I wouldn’t want him to change either; his Koreanness is an important part of who he is.
There are some Koreans in Australia with Australian partners who try to completely adopt Australian culture. It all comes down to the couple and every couple is different. We’ve found what works for us. We have a rule for when we are frustrated at a cultural difference: we are not allowed to say “That’s wrong,” or “That’s stupid”; if we have to say something we say “It’s just different”. A mutual respect is very important for a relationship where you are from very different cultures.
One of the best things about marrying a Korean man has been that a whole new world has opened up to me. While I was growing up in a predominately white and rural area of Australia I never thought I’d end up married to a Korean man or that a whole new world would be opened up to me. I love that I’m constantly discovering new things, that I’m learning another language, I’ve tried all kinds of new food, I’ve got to travel more and see everything in a new way.
My family warmly welcomed my husband into the family, as did his family to me in Korea. I remember before I met his family, people were warning me about not being accepted, about evil mother-in-laws and what is expected of me, but actually his family are absolutely lovely and very accepting of me. They understand that I’m from a different culture and are very understanding while also appreciating me trying to fit in. Our families have met each other as well and even though there is a language barrier, everyone is very loving and accepting. Last year when we went to Korea for our traditional Korean wedding, I had a strange moment when I stopped to look at the scene of my Australian parents in the small living room of my husband’s parents’ house in a tiny town in rural South Korea. It wasn’t something I thought I’d ever see as it just seemed too bizarre, but then looking at my parents sitting with his parents (at the table his parents had kindly borrowed because they knew my parents can’t sit for long on the floor) it just seemed so right.
Unfortunately, although I’m experiencing a great relationship with a Korean man, every time I googled something like “Korean Husband” the google search results were always something very, very negative. To me it seemed like some women who had married a Korean man were blaming Korean culture and then ranting online about it. When you don’t understand much about another culture it’s easy to blame the culture when something goes wrong romantically. However I’m pretty sure a lot of that negative stuff online about Korean husbands was because of the guy’s personality, not because of some vague cultural differences. Every Korean guy is different, but I suppose for these women it was easier to blame something as broad as culture rather than admitting that they had made a mistake and ended up with a bad guy. It was quite frustrating that such negativity was the first thing to come up in a google search. This influenced me in my decision to make my own blog ‘My Korean Husband’ last year. I wanted to create something positive and light-hearted about being married to a Korean man (and show my husband’s my funny side).
It’s been great to talk to other people in similar situations all over the world and to be positive about it. One of the funniest things has been when I make a comic or talk about something my husband does, thinking that it’s just a personality quirk and then other women around the world will say “My Korean husband does that too!” It’s fascinating discovering what is cultural and what is completely just personality. It’s been great to talk to others about their experiences while we navigate through life as a bi-cultural couple.
You can see more comics and read more funny and interesting observations over at ‘My Korean Husband‘
This is part of a series of posts about dating and relationships.
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