Cultural Differences: Meeting The Korean Parents

Posted by & filed under Cultural Differences, Filipino-Korean, Inter-Cultural Relationship.

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.

Wew. Hardcore.

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

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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Kring (179 Posts)

Host✮Entrepreneur✮Superstar✮Producer✮Writer✮Actress✮Dreamer✮Leader✮Lover✮Future Billionaire. I'm like Robbie Williams... LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU! And oh, hope you guys have fun here on! ^^ Let's be friends~

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28 Responses to “Cultural Differences: Meeting The Korean Parents”

  1. ezra

    Point taken. :D =)) The cultural difference is astounding! No wonder in Korean dramas / movies, ‘meeting the family’ comes toward the end LOL.

  2. jamy

    You met Kuya Jimmy’s father, but not his mother? :)
    How was it like meeting his father, ate Kring?

    • Anonymous

      I just met his dad first. I lived with the rest of his family while we were in Korea.
      And they were all <3<3<3

  3. rieza

    This is so informative!!! So even meeting the uncle was a good thing…too bad we broke up…haha!

    • Anonymous

      Awww… It’s okay! There are literally thousands of fishes in the ocean!

  4. Yanna Solace Abrera-Adofina

    ♥ ♥ ♥! Miss Kring, how bout the story regarding how you met the rest of the family in Korea? Sana kasama rin yung kwento dito. :P

  5. Duston Barto

    I like the Philippine custom. More like the Muslim tradition that the parents should approve of the guy and girl before they start seeing each other. When Aishah and I met it was after we'd already emailed each other's parents and I'd already met her mother, brother and Chris before I was deemed worthy of meeting her. We were married 10 days later cuz we're hardcore like that.

    • Kring Elenzano

      WOW. Just… wow. That's the Muslim tradition? You have to meet everyone first before you meet your girl? That's quite extreme for me but I guess it worked out for you! 'Grats.

    • Duston Barto

      Technically I already "met" Aishah, we talked on the phone and chatted online and such.. but yeah before you officially start a relationship everyone has to meet you and approve of you. I courted an Arab girl in Chicago for a short time. I met her in the Mosque at an event and we talked for a while and then I asked if I could meet her father. That immediately told her that I was interested in a relationship with her that would result in marriage (there is no dating in Islam like it is understood in modern culture). I met her father and her mother and her uncles. Some approved of me and some did not. We were allowed to meet in a chaperoned environment for "dates" after that. Then we agreed that we were not compatible (citing reasons that her family members had already recognized) and went our separate ways. That's how a traditional Muslim courtship works. Very fast and long engagements are not the norm, usually you court for a few weeks or months and then get married.

  6. Jihae Lee

    Really? When it comes to my parents and my friend's parents, it's the parents who wishes to see their children's gf/bf first so that at least they'll know who they are dating with o.o haha I think ms.Kring, you are in a age of getting married (I think) that is why the friends of mr.Jimmy and others are getting shock when you said that you wish to meet his dad :)

    • Kring Elenzano

      Really? Wow, I asked Jimmy about it and he said it may very from parents to parents but generally in Korea, it's like that daw. Hahaha. The reason I actually got to write about this was 'coz everyone was saying the same thing! But you're lucky, at least you won't be too devastated in case your parents disapprove. XD

  7. Sarah Iluvgod Okolie

    I just stumbled upon your page. And I'm really imperessed. Since 4 years ago I really wanted to? arrya korean guy and I still do. People keep telling me good luck but I like a challenge. Right now I'm looking for a korean boyfriend, there are a lot in my school but its seems like there's never time for me to say hello. the majority of them smoke, and I'm not into all that at all. I just need help finding one on my own. But I like your blog site and I would be a regular on it.

  8. Nicolette Sison

    I definitely agree with this post! I'm also in relationship with a Korean guy & we've been together for 2 years now. I already met his mom about a year ago & she is the nicest Korean mom ever! (not that I know how other Korean moms are) Anyways, my boyfriend was born in Seoul, South Korea but he came here in the States when he was 5 years old so technically, he isn't too much "Korean-ized" anymore.

    But, I have to agree with this post because I was sooo scared to meet his mom for the 1st time, I had originally imagined his mom to be one of those mean ahjummas in Korean dramas, but thank goodness his mom is one cool lady & she even hugged me xD –she said I was skinny and I needed to eat more and that I was yeppeo lmaoooo! Then she packed me and my bf a huge ass box of kimbap for the road.

  9. Niña Rita Simon

    The pps made me laugh. It’s something that the men who are entering in our family have to go through. Batangas culture. So far only one of my uncles don’t drink. He was adamant not to drink and my uncles and lolos couldn’t make him drink. They respected him for that. But then again, he was so funny when he sits with them in drinking sessions that the lambanog snorts out of their noses at times. So humor trumps non drinking. ^.^ People have loads of family culture that some people can’t dig. Personally my family is like this. if you introduce your bf then that means that you are planning to marry that guy. My male cousins however do not have this problem. They introduce their gfs as soon as they want to. Double standard is very obvious in provincial families. But I don’t mind. None of my exes has ever seen my entire family and I have no plans on introducing my present bf until he finishes school and gets a decent job. 


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