Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Korean "Marriage" Date

My friend Hellena is a flight attendant for Quatar Airlines based out of Quatar. She planned her vacation to coincide with our visit to South Korea. She was arriving a few days after us. We talked to her a few times when she arrived in Korea and then nothing. It's like she disappeared and our calls to her cellphone went unanswered.
On the second day of being unable to contact her, I called Hannah to see if she knew what had happened. Hannah said that Hellena's sister said that she had to go to Busan to see her family. I knew Hellena was going to see her family but she had originally planned to go when we had left Korea.
I got the real story from a perturbed Hellena when she returned. It seems her sister told her she had to go to Busan that weekend and she needed Hellena to help with her two babies on the train ride down. This was not unusual for her sister to ask for help but she was upset because her sister knew she was in Seoul to see us and it had been so long so we had seen each other.
So Hellena gets to Busan and is sat down by her parents and told that it's time for her to get married. Hellena is 27 which is 28 in Korea and if she makes it to 30 unmarried she will be firmly on the shelf. It is past time for her to make a good marriage. So her Korean parents do what Korean parents do in this case, they find a groom.
The potential groom came from a very wealthy family. Her family was over the moon. The family business was a prominent shipping company and they owned 20 ships. The groom worked for the family business. Hellena knew she was stuck so she went on the date.
She told me that he was very shy and didn't say much. She has three very important questions that she asked him:
1. Can you speak English? His answer, no.
2. Have you ever lived outside of South Korea? Another no.
3. Would you ever live in the U.S? He said that would be impossible with him working for the family.
These things are very important to her and I'm afraid my American ways influenced her decision. Although, Hellena has lived in Australia and China so she has also been influenced by their cultures. In one way, I feel bad about that but I want the best for her and I would hate to see her in a loveless marriage.
She cut the dinner short and said she had to meet friends. She gave him her phone number and that was it. She raced back to Seoul and didn't even tell her parents and sister what she thought about the match. I'm still wondering how that went but she is safely in Quatar right now. She plans on working there two more years before she decides her future.

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