Saturday, January 18, 2014

Getting Engaged and Married in Korea

I met Jihyeon in 2011 at a Taekwondo tournament in Muju, Korea. She was volunteering as a translator for a different team, but we met by chance and got along well. I thought the last 2 and a half years were an adventure, but it looks like the real adventure is about to begin. 

Before I go any further, I would like to clarify something. As I understand it, you don't get engaged in Korea. Since our relationship is a blend of Korean and western culture I have used the term "engaged" to mark the point in time when I gave her a ring. 

Couple Rings

In Korea when to people are in a relationship they will often do things like wear matching shirts, wear matching wrist bands, buy matching phone cases, set matching ringtones, wear matching shoes. My understanding of this custom is that it is all about boasting to the world "we are together" and ,I am guessing, was probably started because it is frowned upon to show too much affection in public. <read more>

Getting Parents Permission
I had already met Jihyeon's parents on a few occasions, but since we have decided to get married it was time for an "official" meeting. <read more>

Wedding Venue
After meeting with Jihyeon's parents to get their permission the wedding planning ball started rolling pretty much immediately  Her parents did the leg work for us and checked out a bunch of wedding venue's in Iksan and recommended one for us to go and look at. The building is almost new and just a short walk from their apartment which makes it super convenient. <read more>

Proposing - Namsan Mountain
It took weeks of nagging jihyeon, but we finally made it to Namsan Mountain where I had a double surprise in store for her. <read more>

Our parents meet
The day had finally arrived. My parents were to meet her parents and... well... I don't think anyone knew what to really expect, but happily the shit didn't hit the fan. I think the cultural differences and language barrier actually helped the situation, though it probably did make people feel more awkward than they otherwise would have felt.  <read more>

Hanbok and Suit Shopping
Now that our parents had met, it was time to go suit and Hanbok shopping. Jihyeon's parents had spent some time investigating good Hanbok and suit tailors in Iksan so we jumped on the KTX to meet up with them. <read more>

Wedding Ring Shopping
A couple of weeks ago Jihyeon and I traveled to Seoul to go wedding ring shopping. Shopping for jewelry can be intimidating and stressful for a man when he can speak the language, let alone in a different country dealing with potentially shady sales people that for all I know could pack up shop a week from now and be gone (with my money). <read more>

Professional Photo Shoot
In Korea it is normal for couples to go to a photography studio to get a bunch of professional photos taken a couple of months before actually getting married. These photos are then used to send out e-invitations to friends and family (in addition to physical wedding invitation cards). <read more>

Breaking The Basket Ceremony (함받기)
Traditionally, before the wedding, the groom's family would send presents to the bride and her family in a box called a Ham. Additionally, the Hamjinabi (person who delivered the Ham) and a small group of close friends of the groom would also deliver a pot of Bongch'i Deok (red bean rice cake) from the groom's family. The brides family would have a small party for the group, offering them food and drink for their efforts. The ceremony of delivering the Ham has evolved into a major event for friends of the groom, with the bearers "selling" the contents of the Ham to the bride's parents. In recent years the groups have become very boisterous and demanded large sums of money... which is then promptly spent on alcohol. <read more>

Wedding Gifts In Korea 
In Korea there is  vicious cycle in place that throws everything out of whack and was a source of culture shock for me. Part of the gift money will go to the parents so they can recoup all of the gift money they have been forced to shell out over years of attending other peoples weddings. <read more>

Night Before The Wedding
The night before the wedding I traveled to Iksan to meet up with the visitors that had traveled all the way from Australia and have dinner with them at Jihyeon's parents home. My afternoon classes had been cancelled so the school let me leave early to give me time to relax and prepare for the wedding. <read more>

Wedding Day 
So the big day finally arrived. If you had of told me 28 months ago that I'd be getting married in Korea, I would have laughed and advised you to seek professional help. <read more>

Thank You For Coming
In Australia (and I am guessing other western countries) there is a tradition to give people a small gift called a "favor" when they attend your wedding. These are normally given out at the reception after the wedding. As it turns out, in Korea they have a similar custom. Yesterday.... <read more>

As they say, better late than never. We finally went on our honeymoon after getting married in November 2013. Our destination? The Maldives ^^, or to be more specific the Centara Ras Fushi Resort which is a short 20 minute boat ride from the Male airport.... <read more>

Registering Your Marriage
We got married in November last year, but were a little slack in registering our marriage with the Korean government because it required me visiting the Australian Embassy in Seoul. To register a marriage between an Australian and a Korean you need a few things... <read more>


  1. Hi!

    I was wondering if you have gone through the process of obtaining a spousal visa (f6)? I had a quick search through ypur posts but couldnt see any mention of it (maybe i missed it).

    As a fellow aussie just wondering how easy/difficult it is.

    Thank you in advance :)

    1. Hi Mark,

      Sorry but I was just on an E2 visa my whole time. Since the plan was always to return to Australia I didn't do any investigation in to a F6 visa so I can't offer any advice.