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Lesson Transcript

Gyeongeun: 안녕하세요. KoreanClass101.com입니다.
Hyunwoo: Hi, everyone. Hyunwoo Sun here and I’m joined in the studio by?
Gyeongeun: 경은.
Hyunwoo: Welcome to KoreanClass101.com. Korean Culture Class, Lesson Number 24 – Marriage and Wedding in Korea.
Gyeongeun: 한국의 결혼과 결혼식.
Hyunwoo: One more time. What’s “marriage” and what’s “wedding” in Korean?
Gyeongeun: “Marriage” is 결혼 and “wedding” is 결혼식.
Hyunwoo: Yes, basically, wedding is 결혼 plus 식 and 식 means a ceremony or an event. So, marriage plus ceremony. So 결혼 plus 식, 결혼식. That’s a wedding.

Lesson focus

Gyeongeun: Yes. So today we’re going to talk about how marriages go…
Hyunwoo: And how weddings go in Korea. Gyeongeun, are you married?
Gyeongeun: No, I’m not. 저 결혼한 것처럼 보여요?
Hyunwoo: No, you don’t look like a person who’s married, but I was just asking you. But you’re not 독신주의자, right?
Gyeongeun: No, I’m not.
Hyunwoo: Ok. And just a quick note about this word 독신주의자. What’s 독신주의자?
Gyeongeun: 독신 literally means a lone body, so it means you are single or living alone.
Hyunwoo: And 주의, means a principle or a rule.
Gyeongeun: Yes. So 독신주의자 is someone who does not believe in marriage, therefore, does not want to get married.
Hyunwoo: Right. So you’re not a 독신주의자? Are you sure?
Gyeongeun: No, I’m not.
Hyunwoo: I have some friends who are 독신주의자, who do not have any intention to get married, and they are just as happy as other people who are already married or going to get married. So there’s no reason to say whether 독신주의 is a good or bad thing, but certainly it is something that people could not really say publicly in the past.
Gyeongeun: Yes, but I think Korean people still have to emphasize the importance of family values, so it is usually very difficult to get support from your family if you want to remain single.
Hyunwoo: Yes. It really depends on the family, but in Korea, remaining single, I mean choosing to remain single, is something quite new to many people, so people kind of have the tendency to think that if you’re single, you’re not happy, and you’re supposed to get married. And if you’re going to get married, there are certain things that you have to do and certain ways in which you have to prepare for marriage.
Gyeongeun: Well, I’m not married and you’re not married, either, but we’ve seen a lot of people getting married around us, right?
Hyunwoo: Yes. I’ve seen my friends and my relatives getting married, so I had to help out with some stuff, too. But no one in my direct family got married, yet.
Gyeongeun: Yes. I know your sisters are younger than you, so your parents might be kind of waiting for you to get married first, so that they can get married soon.
Hyunwoo: I guess so. But nowadays, it’s not so uncommon to see a younger sibling getting married before their older sibling does.
Gyeongeun: So you don’t mind if your younger sister gets married before you?
Hyunwoo: I don’t mind. It’s something that I never thought of before, but now that I think about it, it’s not really strange or wrong, or anything. So I wouldn’t mind. So by the way, your older sister got married recently, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, she got married a couple of weeks ago.
Hyunwoo: I’m so sorry that I couldn’t be there at the wedding, but please give her my best wishes.
Gyeongeun: Thank you, I will.
Hyunwoo: So how did it go?
Gyeongeun: It went well, but we had rain on that day, so we changed it into an indoor wedding.
Hyunwoo: So since your sister got married recently and you were there to help her and your family throughout the entire process…
Gyeongeun: Yes.
Hyunwoo: And you were also nearing an age where everybody around you starts thinking: “Doesn’t she have to start thinking about getting married soon?”
Gyeongeun: No, I’m still young.
Hyunwoo: I know. You’re young and you look young and everything, but I’m talking about what other people usually think.
Gyeongeun: Well, yes. I have to agree with you on that part.
Hyunwoo: Yes, but cheer up.
Gyeongeun: No, I’m not depressed about it or anything.
Hyunwoo: I was just kidding. So you know, a lot of Korean people say that marriage in Korea is not marriage between two people, but marriage between two families. What do you think about that?
Gyeongeun: I don’t know about me, but it is true. Everything is decided by older family members all together.
Hyunwoo: Yes. What do you mean by everything?
Gyeongeun: Well, from the date and place of the wedding and what items should the husband should buy…
Hyunwoo: It’s usually a house, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes. And what items the wife should buy, and of course also whether or not, they should get married to each other in the first place.
Hyunwoo: Well, the last bit it’s the scariest part. It’s not very surprising in Korea to hear someone saying something like: “I was going to get married, but my family didn’t like the idea, so I couldn’t.” Well, I’m not saying that it’s true for everybody, but it’s very common, for sure. But 경은씨, what do you think is the reason for that?
Gyeongeun: Well, I think it’s because most Korean parents spend so much time, so many years, just devoting themselves to making sure that their children are provided with all the opportunities to succeed in life.
Hyunwoo: And I think that is because most people in our parents’ age, who are in their 50s or 60s now, have gone through such hard times when Korea was still recovering from the impact of the war, and everybody was poor and they had to struggle to have a stable, well provided life. So they want to make sure that their children have a successful marriage and have a happy life.
Gyeongeun: Yes, I agree. Now, let’s talk a little bit about what Korean people should do in preparation for the wedding.
Hyunwoo: Yes. Once the two people get the green light from the parents of the both sides, the first thing that the man has to worry about is?
Gyeongeun: A house.
Hyunwoo: Right. I don’t really like the idea, but that’s the usual case in Korea now. The man is expected to either buy a house or rent a house at least.
Gyeongeun: Yes. So basically, prepare a place to live in.
Hyunwoo: And the woman?
Gyeongeun: The woman, the bride…
Hyunwoo: Or the family of the bride…
Gyeongeun: Yes, is supposed to prepare the furniture that will go inside the house.
Hyunwoo: And that’s where the most amount of money is spent.
Gyeongeun: Yes. And the second most amount of money is spent on the wedding itself.
Hyunwoo: Yes. I have a lot to say about the common style of wedding in Korea, but I’ll pass this time.
Gyeongeun: I know you don’t like the usual wedding style in Korea, do you?
Hyunwoo: No, I don’t. But that is just my personal taste. So the wedding. The date of the wedding is very important, too, right? How do you decide?
Gyeongeun: Yes. Like in many other countries, the wedding usually takes place on a Saturday or a Sunday, and the date of the wedding is usually decided through the discussions between the parents and not everybody believes in it, But depending on the month, there are usually some set dates that are considered to be good for marriage.
Hyunwoo: Yes, I don’t think everybody really believes in this, but people want to wish the couple the best of luck if they can, So they consult a fortune teller or the Internet, to look up which dates are good for marriage within that month.
Gyeongeun: Yes. And I think the wedding itself is very similar to the wedding that you can easily imagine.
Hyunwoo: Yes, there’s someone hosting the ceremony and making announcements, And there is this person called 주례, the person officiating at the wedding.
Gyeongeun: But in Korea, the 주례 is not necessarily a minister or a priest.
Hyunwoo: No. It could be a college professor of the bride or the groom, or just about anybody that the couple or the parents think it’s highly respected and has some social status, and some life experience.
Gyeongeun: Yes, but one big, unique part of the usual Korean wedding is this part called 폐백.
Hyunwoo: Right. 폐백 is basically a smaller ceremony after the big ceremony, which is the wedding, and it takes place in the room made for 폐백, 폐백실. And what they do, is the couple give a big bow to each of their parents as a way to say thank you and also promise that they will live happily together.
Gyeongeun: Right. And there’s one more thing that I think is interesting about wedding culture in Korea.
Hyunwoo: What is it?
Gyeongeun: Money.
Hyunwoo: Money? I see what you mean. You mean the 축의금, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes. It’s called 축의금 and it means congratulatory money.
Hyunwoo: 축 from 축하하다 and 의 is meaning and 금 is “money”, so it’s called 축의금.
Gyeongeun: Basically, it’s a way for people to show support for the marriage.
Hyunwoo: Yes, but it kind of feels like obligation to it, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, that’s true.
Hyunwoo: But I’m always happy to pay some 축의금 to my friends when they get married, because obviously marriage costs a lot of money, so if one can get a little help from each of the visitors to the wedding, it’s a huge sum of money all together.
Gyeongeun: Right. And that money, usually, goes back into buying more stuff that the couple needs.
Hyunwoo: Or into the pockets of the parents.
Gyeongeun: Well, they are the ones who spend the most money for the wedding, So it’s understandable.
Hyunwoo: Yes, I think that, too. And although it’s kind of expected for you to show up with some 축의금 ready, it’s not really, absolutely necessarily, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes. So you don’t have to worry if you haven’t prepared any 축의금 when you go to a friend’s wedding. And the amount of money is very flexible, too.
Hyunwoo: So if I get to go to your wedding, I don’t have to prepare any 축의금, right?
Gyeongeun: No.
Hyunwoo: It’s friendship that matters, not the amount of money, right?
Gyeongeun: But you’re not even invited, so…
Hyunwoo: Well, I’ll just invite myself and just go.
Gyeongeun: Ok.
Hyunwoo: Say, this marriage is not allowed or I don’t know.
Gyeongeun: We will see.
Hyunwoo: No, I mean I would love to go and you know, pay some 축의금 like 1,000원 1,000 won. And you know…
Gyeongeun: 오지 마세요.
Hyunwoo: So what you do is you put money like 3만원, 30,000 won if you are still a student or 5만원, 50,000 won or 10만원, or a hundred thousand won if you’re really close to the person and put it in an envelope and give it to the people at the reception of the wedding hall, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, right, who are usually the family members of the marrying couple.
Hyunwoo: Yes, exactly. So I think we’ve covered pretty much every aspect, not every aspect, but most of the major aspects of the wedding culture in Korea, and how marriage goes, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, right.
Hyunwoo: Is there anything else that you would like to tell to our listeners?
Gyeongeun: 나중에 결혼할 때 오세요.
Hyunwoo: You want them to come to your wedding?
Gyeongeun: Yes, right.
Hyunwoo: With some 축의금?
Gyeongeun: Of course.
Hyunwoo: A big envelope full of money.
Gyeongeun: Oh, no, I don’t really…
Hyunwoo: Is that what you want?
Gyeongeun: Need 축의금.
Hyunwoo: If that’s what you want, I can bring some of my friends and fill the envelope with a lot of 천 원 bills.
Gyeongeun: No, no.
Hyunwoo: And we can make it look like you have a lot of friends, actually. Sorry, I’m just kidding. So if you have any questions about the wedding and how it goes in Korea…


Gyeongeun: Come to KoreanClass101.com.
Hyunwoo: And leave us a comment and we will always be there to answer your questions.
Gyeongeun: And if you’ve been to any Korean wedding…
Hyunwoo: Either in Korea or in your own country, please come to KoreanClass101.com and share your experiences with us and again, if you have any questions, 경은씨 who is soon going to get married…
Gyeongeun: Really?
Hyunwoo: Age wise, I mean.
Gyeongeun: Oh.
Hyunwoo: Will be there to answer your questions. So we’ll see you there.
Gyeongeun: 안녕히 계세요.
Hyunwoo: 안녕히 계세요.