And she's going to get married!
My co-worker told me at the end of last year that "This year, maybe, I will get marry." I was all smiles and congratulations!
"Oh! You think so? That's great!"
She had been dating her boyfriend for four years and was in love with him. I'd never met him, but seen his picture on her handphone. Handsome fellow!
I wasn't too surprised, when just a few weeks ago she confirmed that yes indeed, she is going to get married! Yeeee hah! I was kind of surprised, though, to learn very recently that she wasn't marrying her long-time boyfriend*, but rather some new fellow who had only recently come into her life. Huh?
It's not all that uncommon here: match-making! My co-worker had decided that this was going to be the year she settled down, and since her boyfriend wasn't quite there yet (and was still a student intent on getting his Masters instead of getting a job) she looked elsewhere and was introduced to a few other eligible bachelors. She then just picked the one that seemed the best.
And so, in about three weeks, she'll take that walk down the aisle.
I've only (kind of) been to two weddings in Korea. One was for my good friend Young-a from Masan who married her Finnish Prince Charming on Christmas Day. She had been intent on marrying a foreigner, and she got what she wanted. The union was also that much more enchanting because they were in love. The wedding I almost attended three weekends ago was between a boxing coach (he was a former champion in Korea) and his student. They'd met about a year and a half ago by C's figuring. They made a handsome couple, and from all accounts - and the look of them, they're in love. I hadn't given too much thought of a marriage happening for any other reason, but I'm learning that it's fairly common to marry for marriage sake here.
I learned a new word. Wangta. I came across it in a discussion thread about match-made Korean weddings (which I can't find now.) It said that after a certain age (see THIRTY) people might start thinking you're a "wangta" if you're not already married. My co-worker's almost there, and her soon-to-be-husband is 5 years past.
Here's an older article on match-making and computer dating in Korea, "Looking for Love." And here's a more recent article from the Tapei Times, "Matchmaking Enjoying a Revival in South Korea."
What do we think? Hmmmm? From what I've learned, this is a traditional arrangement, and my co-worker is awash in tradition these days. A few weekends ago, the families were brought together to meet each other. Earlier this week, I had to cover her last class because she was going over to her soon-to-be in-law's house to give them money. Just last night, she brought me along shopping downtown, where she spent almost W4,000,000 on a nice refrigerator and 42" flat screen TV. She pointed out the more conservative and less-expensive models her fiance had picked out, but she there and then vetoed his choices and held out her credit card. I'm not sure if the cost will be shared between bride and groom, but according to this article, "Korean Wedding Expenses," maybe it's all on her. I know, lots of weddings cost as much as a downpayment on a house back in North America, and it seems here is no different. Getting hitched can be a costly ordeal!
As it was, my Western mind was reeling a bit, thinking that she was making all these decisions on her own, and with the chat we'd had in the car on the way down on how he's told her how to speak, how to sit, and that he'd prefer it if she acted (I'm totally paraphrasing) more whiney, giggly, girly, and cute.
On the way home, we pulled up to an intersection where my co-worker was going to merge in with a left hand turn. She came to a stop as an approaching car got closer and closer. I figured she was waiting for it to pass, but no, just as it was close enough to HAVE to slow right down or collide - she swung her car right in front of it. I shrieked.
But it made me wonder if that is just how she is - jumping into motion because she feels it's TIME, regardless - or perhaps oblivious - of danger or consequence. There's surely more to be said about all this. In the meantime, I'm off to read a discussion thread on the subject. I'm intrigued!
(*Oh, and btw, she's illstay in ovelay with the x-oyfriendbay!)
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