In Korea, we were taught English at a young age by a ESL teacher in our schools. The teachers also tried to teach us about English culture. We have learned about the movies, sports, presidents and other popular culture of the United States. However, dating is much different here than it is in America. In Korea, a man would contact me multiple times throughout the day to see what I was doing. My former boyfriends would message me in the morning, lunch, afternoon, evening, and before they go to bed. However, the couple of men that have shown interest in me here in the United States only call or text me one time per day. I asked both of them about it but they both insisted they were interested in dating me. In Korea, we have many celebrations and anniversaries throughout the year to celebrate the relationship and we message each other more frequently. In Korea, a woman is expected to respect herself to honor her family and future husband. If you have sex with any other man who is not your husband, then technically you are “disgraced”. You have shamed yourself, your family, and your future spouse. There is a lot of pressure to abide by societal expectations. It is also an expectation for man to pay for the dates in Korea. The woman is not expected to pay for things. Here in America, sometimes men do expect you to pay for a date and this is not usually the case. I am still getting used to dating in America.
Marriage is also much different. In South Korea, a man is supposed to provide his future mother-in-law with a token representing family structure and love. The mother approves of the wedding rather than the father. In America, I have heard people talking about how a man is supposed to ask his future father-in-law for his wife’s hand in marriage. The weddings are also a bit different because in South Korea the parents of the bride and groom can invite as many people as they want for the wedding and celebration. Weddings are usually very large. Weddings are also seen as a celebration of family in addition to the celebration of the unification.
In our country my friend Anyo, had a child with disability. In South Korea, a woman is solely expected to take on the social burden of raising the kid with a disability. Raising a child with disability has been recognized as a major stressor for family caregiving. It is nice to see that in America there are programs to help you with your disabled child. In South Korea, this all falls on the mother. This leads to a lot of pressure on the woman but in America it’s a little different. It seems like there is a collective effort for social responsibility of the disabled child. Its nice to see.
I have noticed older people in America like it when you look at them while you are talking but it makes me feel very uncomfortable. In South Korea, we do not look or stare at our elders in the eyes while we are talking because it is a sign of disrespect to the elder. Elders in our country, are viewed as sacred and wise. We really value the lessons, wisdom, and insight an elder has to offer a young person. For this reason, respecting our elders is very important in South Korea culture. It does not seem Americans value elderly the same way we do. Most elderly people live in their own community. In South Korea, the family takes care of the elderly in respect for their contributions to the family. In America, you respect elders as children but when you become an adult you are viewed as an equal. In South Korea, this is not the case. Your elder is viewed with more respect because of their distinction in years.