Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Your Mother.

Dear Korean:

Our daughter has just started her freshman year at a small university with about a 20% international student body. She is well versed in various cultures but has taken a fascination to the South Korean Culture. We have had her Korean friends in our home. My question is this: Do Korean young men pursue American women? Our daughter had started what she thought was a relationship with a young Korean man who had been physical in the manner of holding hands, hugging and expressing his feelings; but when she confronted him to find out what his intentions were, he became very vocal and humiliating. Is this common for young men from South Korea? I think that our daughter might like to marry a Korean but everything that I have researched does not show that Korean men would be a good marriage partner since the Korean society is so male dominated and women take such a second role. Thanks in advance.

Alice E.

Dear Alice,

The first thing the Korean thought reading your email was that mothers are the same everywhere in the world. You should have seen the Korean Mother when the Korean brought home his first white girlfriend. If there were Ask A Korean! back then, the Korean Mother would have sent in this question: "How do I make my son drop that white devil girlfriend?"

Do Korean men pursue white women? Sure, all (straight) men pursue women, no matter what the race. Is what your daughter going through with that Korean boy somehow culturally related? Maybe, but it doesn't sound too different from any boy-girl interaction. Maybe he liked your daughter enough, but wasn't ready for commitment.

But the Korean thinks your broader question is important. The Korean would be the first one to say that Korean culture indeed is male-dominated and women tend to take a second role. But the Korean thinks this is a healthy way of thinking about culture - culture is nothing but a trend. Some people follow the trend, and some don't. All one can do is be aware of it, and be ready to evaluate people on individual basis. It's just like looking at pit bulls. They are generally fierce, but some of them are quite docile.

Another thing is that Korean society is changing very, VERY fast. The Korean visits Korea every two, three years, and the shift in cultural attitude in each visit is simply astonishing. Simply put, the youngest generation of Koreans are really not very different from Americans. So who knows?

It's good that you are aware of the culture, but please be ready to make individual evaluation before you jump to any conclusion. If that Korean boy was a trend-follower, he would not have pursued a white girl anyway.

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