Thursday, July 15, 2010

korea is making me feel old.

i think i was living in this insular little bubble in nyc where the natural cycle of life (at least for most of the world) didn't affect me and my close friends.

most of us lived carefree, single lives where thinking about things such as getting married, having a mortgage and starting a family was as foreign as discussing people who have pogonophobia: a fear of beards. and even for my close friends who are in relationships, the thought of finally settling down with eachother and walking down the aisle is something way down the line---it's nothing that they're anticipating for at least a few years. instead we enjoyed eachother's company, ate good food, met different types of people, partied, looked for fun cultural events to attend and basically took advantage of the fact that we could live this way in new york city and have an awesome time doing so.

my bubble in korea has been drastically different thus far. that's not to say that people aren't living that way in seoul, but even while doing so, korean culture is so different and family oriented that it affects so many different aspects of your life.

for starters, while i'm 27 years old in america, i'm 28 in korean age. i still don't understand the reasoning well enough to explain it here so we'll just say that it's a korean cultural thing. when people ask my age, i always just say i was born in 1983 and let them figure it out themselves. since i'm 28 in korea, it's the ripe old age to get married. many people are already married by this point with kids or are engaged or thinking about all that stuff and i've been told countless times here that i should be doing the same. i've also already met some people here who said they'd like to set me up with a nice girl so we can get married, which makes me laugh so hard on the inside but i just politely smile or say "sure, i'll meet this person." my cousin who is a few years older than me introduced me to some friends of hers who are both 30 and have been married for a while and have a 7 year old daughter. they're both very nice people and the wife insisted that she set me up with a friend of hers who is a nurse and also 30 years old. i nonchalantly said i would meet her, not actually thinking anything would come of it but they called me today and said that they had set up a double-dinner-date for the four of us this saturday. i naturally panicked on the phone (but still kept it cool) and said i'm not ready because i'm still unemployed and would like to focus on finding a job before i start any sort of serious relationship, but man that was a close one.

one thing i do appreciate about korean culture is its importance on family. it's nice to see parents out with their kids enjoying life and spending quality time together, whether it's going on outings or playing at the park or going out to eat. yeah, i know this happens everywhere around the world but seeing this firsthand in seoul is really refreshing because i'm not used to seeing korean families like this. i'm used to being in new york where most of the immigrant parents are working all the time and struggling to cope with all the anxieties that come along with american and new york culture. having leisurely family time where you actually bond with your children and spouse was sadly not something i witnessed firsthand very often in new york, creating a large disconnect amongst family members. so it makes my heart melt when i go to the park in seoul and it's teeming with happy parents and children who are smiling, laughing, playing and acting how families should act. sure there are plenty of dysfunctional and fucked up families here as well, but it's still just nice to see the korean families with some normalcy between them.


  1. Anonymous9:17 PM

    This made me me smile, as it brought back a fairly fresh memory.

    Some friends and I had stopped for lunch when someone asked me (rather out of the blue), "M. When are you going to get married? You're about ready you know--you should start looking for the right one."

    I don't remember what I said. Something pompous, like "God will provide," I seem to recall. But it does seem to pop up at the oddest times.

  2. i would politely respond. Do you know a nice Korean boy instead?

  3. What is the gay scene in Korea like?