Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Single Korean females eye foreign husbands

Koo Hee-ok, a 29-year-old office worker in Sydney, has been in a relationship with the Australian man she met there a year ago, and the couple plans to tie the knot in the next two years.

Born and educated in Seoul, Koo went to the Land Down Under to get her master’s degree in accounting in her late 20s and then got a job at a local firm. She did not consider marriage before meeting the man she now considers her life mate. She had a few Korean boyfriends in her early 20s, and dated some Korean men in Sydney as well. But she could not help feeling repulsed by what she described as their “typical way of thinking.”

“I was upset about Korean men making chauvinistic remarks, that women are supposed to be coy and kind and that it’s even better if [a potential marriage partner] is younger, pretty and knows how to cook,” she said via e-mail. “ I have never heard the foreigners I’ve dated say such things.”

The men she is talking about sound as though they are straight from the dark ages. But there is still a considerable portion of Korean men, even those in their 20s and 30s, who think that way, according to the Korean bachelorettes interviewed for this article. Many of these women - who have lived overseas, are well-educated and have good jobs - have opted to find husbands among non-Koreans, who they think are more open-minded and respectful of women than their Korean counterparts.

Kim, who works at a domestic publishing firm and asked not to be named, also belongs to that group of women. The 32-year-old Kim recently became engaged to a European man who is an executive at a Seoul-based financial company. She says she is happier than ever with her fiance, but her confession of the relationship to her parents last year aroused fierce opposition from them because her boyfriend is a foreigner and therefore not a suitable match in their eyes. Her parents, both from Gyeongsang, one of the most conservative regions in the nation, went so far as to kick her out of their house because she refused to break up with her boyfriend. Her parents think it is a huge disgrace for the family “to mix blood.”

“I had almost 200 blind dates with Korean men that were arranged by my parents. Most of them were elites - such as doctors, prosecutors, lawyers - from rich and distinguished families,” said Kim, who spent a year at a university in the United States to polish her English through a study abroad program when she was in college in Seoul. “But I was never willing to have second dates because the prospect of marrying them suffocated me.”

full article: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2919946

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