Cultural Difference # 2: Meeting the Korean Parents
In the Philippines, it’s customary for the girls to invite their suitors to their homes so they can introduce the boys to their parents
. They don’t need to be going steady yet, this is a relationship prerequisite that is practiced during the courtship stage. In fact, decades ago, girls who dated boys without introducing them to the parents first were frowned upon because it means they’re “nagpapaligaw sa kalye” (allow themselves to be courted in the streets – literal translation).
It’s not as strict anymore because the concept of courtship has been modified in the recent years. Quite honestly, I myself have dated
some a lot a number of guys, whom I never introduced to my parents. However, it is innate in Filipinos to treat the boyfriends and girlfriends as part of the family. They join us when we hear the Mass, they drink with our dads and cousins, they help our moms prepare food for parties, etc.
Well, surprise surprise! THAT’S TOTALLY NOT THE CASE IN KOREA. They would only introduce their partners to their parents when they’re about to get married. You know, like in a few months. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE WARN ME ABOUT THIS?!
Possible reaction when you meet the Korean parents. Be ready.
Jimmy’s family is in Korea and occasionally, his dad would visit for a business trip. I’d always ask him when I’ll get to eat out with his dad but he’d brush it off and say he’s busy or whatever. I started to grow impatient and I was… hurt. I introduced Jimmy to my parents two freakin’ weeks after we first met. My father, mother and future boyfriend had no clue what was coming. I invited them to my event in Rockwell and before they realized it, we were all having steak for lunch! Needless to say, Mr. Kim was sweating, stuttering and couldn’t look my parents in the eye. It was apparently a first for him to be introduced to a girl’s parents.
Fast forward to a few months…
Me: You know, I’m really bothered. Jimmy’s father is in town and I wanna meet him! He doesn’t seem to have plans of introducing me to his dad!
Female Korean Friend: *shocked* Wait, are you guys getting married soon?
Me: What?! No!
FKF: Then why do you wanna meet his dad?
Me: Uhm, is that even a question?! Jimmy sleeps in our house, eats and travels with my family while his family probably doesn’t even know I exist! Is he so ashamed of having a Filipina girlfriend?
FKF: Oh, Kring… *pat pat* You gotta learn the Korean ways. I was with my ex for 3 years and none of us met each other’s families! We Koreans only introduce our partners to our parents when we’re already engaged. Only when we’re sure he or she is “the one”.
Me: So what if you’ve been dating for 5 years and you introduce your fiance to your parents and they don’t like him and asks you to break up with him? What do you do?!
FKF: Too bad for me, I gotta choose. And that’s not an uncommon scenario back home.
She also explained that their concept of introducing the future wife/husband to the parents is VERY different from ours. Our “pamamanhikan” is basically to ask for blessings, right? Theirs is apparently more of asking for an approval (especially from the mother). Cherish Maningat-Bae reaffirmed this and said it can be quite an intimidating moment, especially for the one being introduced. You will be scrutinized from head to toe and the result isn’t always pretty.
Wear something decent when you’re introduced for the first time or
THE KOREAN MOTHER-IN-LAW WILL NOT APPROVE.
I don’t want to freak anyone out and I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with their custom. That’s just how it is, different from ours! So if you’re dating a Korean, do not feel too bad if you aren’t invited to their family functions. Maybe you’ve only been going out a few months. Maybe he’s not ready to settle down just yet. Or maybe… he’s just not taking your relationship seriously and he’ll up and leave you when he goes back to Korea – and he’ll marry a nice Korean woman who’s much prettier than you. /troll
As for me, I met his father around March this year and when I told FKF that she was like “NOOO WAAAAY YOU EVEN WENT TO THEIR HOUSE?! Did the father like you?!” Ahahaha! True story. When I stayed with his family in Korea, they were… surprisingly cool. No tension, no drama (except for the language barrier) and please, they loved me *winks*. I believe they’ve already been briefed about me even before we arrived. And when Jimmy introduced me to his barkada, everyone’s default question was “when’s the wedding?”
Click here to read CULTURAL DIFFERENCE # 1
ps: Just in case you’re wondering, no we’re not getting married ANYTIME SOON. -___-
pps: Now Jimmy’s next dilemma is the fact that my dad wants to have a drinking session with his dad. OH LORD.
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