It's time for another episode of my blog series, Things I'll definitely miss/Things I definitely WON'T miss here in South Korea.
I'm having fun writing this little list. First off, it's fun to talk about the things I love about living as expats here in South Korea, because there are lots. It hasn't all been stressful and aggravating! Some of it has actually been pretty cool. But also, it's fun to talk about the things I don't like about living here...mostly because it's fun to ruffle the feathers of the locals, who watch my blog and get all sorts of fired up by my not-candy-coated musings.
Hi, guys. *waving* Welcome back. Glad to have you.
As always, I've decided to start out with what I won't miss about living in South Korea. Why? Because it's always best to get the negative stuff off my chest first, and then wrap things up with the positive. Also, because I am literally bouncing in my seat to get this gripe off of my chest.
I will not miss....
The weird, unmentioned, oft ignored, yet blatant uneven marital roles in South Korea.
Holy. Freaking. Crap. Men here think they reinvented the wheel, and that all women are here for their entertainment and personal use. #straightupfact.
In some marriages (though admittedly not all--so don't send me hate mail. You know who you are), it feels more like a business contract between a boss and a subservient employee.
He picks her--usually based on her family status, her education/earning potential, willingness to bear his children and raise them without help, and how perfect and appealing she appears physically--and then he marries her in an unemotional, unremarkable ceremony meant to impress their friends, and more importantly, their parent's friends...and then he knocks her up once, maybe twice or three times (Heaven forbid they have a large family--that is generally frowned upon in South Korean society) depending on how wealthy they are, with a designer baby.
|Ok, in South Korea's defense: They legit have the cutest babies in the universe. I had some pretty adorable babies, but when I see a Korean baby, my uterus explodes. Every time. Bravo, South Korea. Nailed it.|
Then they spend the next twenty to thirty years engaged in the coldest, most unfair relationship possible, where he makes the majority of the money, and as the breadwinner, is allowed the freedom to stay at work until 8 or 9 pm every night, then go drinking Soju until 12 or 1, then stumble home with the expectation that his chosen, privileged wife has spent her day cleaning, cooking, and raising perfect, highly intelligent offspring with little to no help from the father figure. The women are expected to cart these children from lesson to lesson, filling each spare moment of their lives becoming academically gifted (I'll post more about that in another episode,) as well as musically talented, and physically fine tuned. The wives are expected to raise these children to utter perfection, often forgoing any life or career she had prior to becoming a genius incubator, for the sake of bringing honor to her distant, uninterested husband and his (more than likely demanding, judgmental) family. In many of the marriages that I've seen, there is little love, friendship, or affection between the husband and wife. Rather, there is coldness, high expectation, and sometimes utter unkindness, and the members of the relationships are often left feeling lonely, unappreciated, unloved, taken for granted, and unhappy.
Ugh. It makes me sick to my stomach.
My husband is my best friend. We laugh together, and often goof around with each other. When we're walking somewhere together, we sometimes hold hands, or sneak in a quick kiss. My husband knows everything about me, and vice versa. I can honestly, legitimately say that without him, there is no me. He--at the risk of sounding cheesy and cliche--completes me.
Ok, ok, stop rolling your eyes. But, it's true. I can't being in a imagine a marriage like (many) of the Korean ones I've seen.
South Korea, you are missing out. Your spouse should be your best friend. The one person you want to see, the last voice you want to hear before you leave this mortal coil. They should complete you, otherwise you're wasting your own time, and doing marriage wrong.
(Disclaimer: I have met a small handful of Korean friends whose marriages have not seemed this cold, contractual, and distant. In fact, they actually seem to like each other! They laugh together, show affection and respect, and truly seem to treasure their relationships. They know who they are, and should all give themselves a pat on the back for going against the South Korean grain.)
Aaaaaaand now that I've covered the negative....
Here's what I will miss...
Riding my bike and/or walking everywhere I need to go.
Ok, so in America--well, suburban America, where I came from prior to moving abroad--if you want to go somewhere, you get in a car to get there. Even if you don't necessarily need to, you just do. We are--as a whole--a very physically lazy country. Cripes, we eat fast food every day, and we're literally going through an obesity crisis! I myself had WLS, and the fact that I spent half my day sitting in my minivan in traffic certainly didn't help the situation.
It honestly wasn't until I moved to South Korea, and experienced what living in a biking community actually felt like, that I realized how beneficial it is. And not just to my waistline, but to my emotional stability! I feel better, more clear headed, and generally happier when I get out and walk my dogs every day. I love that I can meet my husband for dinner after he gets off of work, and can arrive at a restaurant faster if I just hop on my bike and pedal my way there. I love that my children are all inclined to hop on a bike or walk wherever they want to go with their friends, and how they aren't easily dissuaded from going to a movie or the park with friends, just because it's a few blocks or miles away. I've become accustomed to walking across the street to the store whenever we're out of celery or milk, and I've grown attached to having a handful of shops and restaurants within a quick ride or walk. I've enjoyed knowing that even on my laziest days, I will still get some exercise.
South Korea, despite being a massive drinking and smoking culture, is a fairly healthy country. People are smaller in stature and fitter than most average Americans. They're not turned off by the idea of walking somewhere, or having a physical commute that lasts for longer than fifteen minutes. Sometimes you'll stumble upon outdoor, public gyms right in the middle of a park somewhere, and will often find an older Korean quietly working out there. They are a community that is committed to being physically fit, and I--as a former obese woman who works hard to be, and stay, healthy--am extremely impressed. America should take a page out of South Korea's book in this respect, because they are kicking our butts in the healthy community department. Just saying.
|This one's for you, South Korea.|
I'll really miss that when I go back to the 'burbs.......as I sit in my car in traffic......
(Friggin' better not be in another minivan.)
Stay tuned for more Things I'll definitely miss/Things I definitely won't miss. I promise more blatant honesty, and likely a few insulting observations, as well.