Love, According to Mother

It Meant He Would Leave

Over lunch on our shopping day…

“Mother,” I said in Korean, “were you angry when [Good Man] said he had an American girlfriend?”

“Ahhhh, of course.”


“Because it meant he would leave.”

I nodded. How could I answer that? He left. He left for school, sure, but he stayed for me. For us.

Mother continued, “But it’s OK because I have two kids. If I only had one child, I wouldn’t let them marry a foreigner.”

“So [Sister] has to marry a Korean?”

“Yes.” She thought for a moment. “What would happen to Korea if everyone left?”

I had no answer for that.

Three Months vs Three Years

While on a walk without Good Man…

“Mother, how did you meet Father?”

“We were introduced to each other.”

“How long did you date before marrying?”

She held up three fingers. “Three years.”

“Oh, three years? A lot of Koreans marry after three months. Why?”

Mother scoffed. “I don’t know. But that is too soon.”

I laughed, “So if [Sister] met someone and said she wanted to marry him after three mon—”

“Nope. She can’t. That is too soon.”

“[Good Man] and I dated for two years. My mom always says you should know someone at least one year. Because you go through summer, win—”

“Fall,” Mother corrected me.

“Fall, winter…um…” Mother gave me the word, “spring.”

“And maybe a funeral or a new job or moving.”

Mother sounded confused. “Why?”

“Because a funeral, a new job, moving…those are all hard things. They make a lot of stress.”

“Ah, that makes sense.”

Grandmother and Grandfather

On the same walk…

“Mother, how did your parents meet?”

“My mother’s mother, my father’s mother, [some word].” Mother slowly explained it and I got it. They were an arranged marriage. Of course, that makes sense. They were married nearly 60 years ago. The fact that Mother and Father were a “love match” in ~1980 is rather unusual. “They met when they were 18 and got married very soon after that.”

“When you were growing up, did they like each other? Did they understand each other?”

“Hmm. They liked each other and then didn’t like each other and then liked each other and didn’t like each other…”

I laughed, “And now?”

“Now? Now I think they’re OK.”

One thought on “Love, According to Mother

  1. Comment from: HL [Visitor]
    I’m pretty sure most of my relatives (including my parents) had “love matches”, and most of my mom’s side seems to have picked well. My dad’s side not so much even though most of them are still married to each other. My parents met through a matchmaker, and while they’re still married I can’t say it’s a happy partnership.

    I also wonder about a mass Korean exodus, or at the very least a “brain drain” in the event the best and brightest Koreans take off for fairer lands and never look back. When I was at my first hagwon I taught a FLHS-prep class and it hit me that these amazing students could very well likely end up in American/Australia/UK and stay there instead of using their education to help lead Korea. Not that born-and-raised-and-educated-in-Korea Koreans can’t lead their country; I just think having international experience would give them a more well-rounded perspective that would only benefit governance. But can I blame those kids? I don’t intend on living in Korea for the rest of my life either, though I do feel obligated to help out with Korean human-rights issues even from the States. That in itself is a arrogant thought, because I’m essentially assuming that there won’t be Koreans who address those issues from within Korea.

    So basically I’m arrogant. :/
    05/23/10 @ 21:16

    Comment from: Jennifer [Visitor] ·
    This email made me want to cry. Very powerful Amanada ;)
    05/23/10 @ 21:54

    Comment from: admin [Member] Email
    HL, I don’t know if that makes you arrogant. If you want to address something, go for it.

    America has a brain drain problem too, but in a slightly different way. A lot (most?) of the graduate students in STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) are int’l students who get educated here and then go back home.

    I think the problem with Koreans going abroad and coming back home is that Korea is still very, very much about which school you went to and which connections you made. Good Man speaks English fluently but went to a not-fantastic college and that will always limit him in Korea, unfortunately.
    05/29/10 @ 10:27

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