Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Epic Battle between Ultraman and Koreanmomzilla

Interesting discussion over tradition between the Korean and the Korean Mother. Well, it would have been interesting if it did not involve hours of screaming into the phone.

The Korean was planning to have the traditional portion of the wedding (폐백 or pyebaek) in Korea after the wedding in New York, because the ceremony is for the 시댁 (si-daek, i.e. the groom's family) to welcome the bride. For the Korean, the proper 시댁 is in Korea, where heads of his extended family -- namely, the Korean Grandmother and the Korean Uncle (큰아버지) -- are located. For the Korean Mother (who recently morphed into Koreanmomzilla,) the proper 시댁 is wherever the Korean Mother and the Korean Father are located, which means 폐백 has to be a part of the New York wedding.

An epic battle between Ultraman and Koreanmomzilla just happened, which sort of looked like this...


(Source)

... but just imagine the two duking it out on the phone instead of breathing fires and shooting laser beams.

But in the end, the noble Ultraman was defeated, and Koreanmomzilla stomped on his cold dead body. Now the Korean has to go look for a separate room in the reception space for the goddamn 폐백. Losing never feels good, even if it's losing to your mom.

What do you think is the proper result?

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

30 comments:

  1. I think The Korean Mother was right. It's the filial son, not grandson, that is the main point of neo-Confucianism. Then again, I asked my wife for her take on it and she was divided. This could be evidence of a generational gap regarding "the proper way".

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  2. I will probably break both of my Korean parents' hearts by (assuming consent of bride) abandoning any fidelity to tradition for wedding ceremony and reception. Although, at this point, I might surmise that they'd be happy if I got married at all (at least to a Korean woman--although as my lifelong singleness drags on, even that might erode). As such, I don't know if I can contribute a who's right or wrong.

    However, I have attended a number of Korean weddings in the US and they have primarily been at some compromise location that eases travel for all parties. In some cases, multiple ceremonies were held at multiple locations and in one case, there was a US ceremony, a Korean ceremony as well as a series of receptions in various cities.

    As such, I feel like none of these friends come from strictly traditional minded families.

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  3. First, you picked the wrong tokusatsu hero. I would have gone with this formidable guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HBxPzOiCY0

    Otherwise, at the end of the day, the woman who endured the pain of your birth is always right. Sorry.

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  4. As someone who had no actual 폐백 to speak of and did a VERY nontraditional wedding to appease both moms (we wanted no wedding, just a beach party), I think that your mom is acting like a spoiled brat. I do think some compromise for family is good. However, demands that devolve into screaming matches may make for good bridal reality television, but they are not healthy for mature adults.

    Ultimately, though, wedding decisions of this nature come down to one thing: who is paying?

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  5. Diana, you just did NOT call the Korean Mother a "spoiled brat"... That's ban worthy if the Korean did not know you.

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  7. Ah...the perils of a Korean wedding. :)

    I think it's better to keep losing to your mother on these issues...for your wife's sake.

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  8. I am going to go with the Korean Mother. If there is one thing I have learnt since being in Japan, agree with the Korean mother, it is better for your long term interests.

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  9. I am also planning my wedding right now. I have also learned that the right answer is whatever my mom wants. I will have to take care of her someday when she is old, and there's no point in antagonizing her over the events of ONE DAY in my life. (This isn't an issue of who's paying or anything, either; it's an issue of respect and family harmony.)

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  10. Being one myself, I must concur with the others that the Korean momzilla is always right. And losing to your mom isn't really losing--since she usually knows what's best, you win in the end! Spoken like a true Korean momzilla? Guh-rum.

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  11. I disagree with the commenters, and I'm a mom! (Although my boys are still very young.)

    You could have done what I did and not have one! =) When I learned that it was really for the groom's family, the feminist inside me screamed and I decided that I'm not even gonna do one...

    Nobody cared so yay for me but seems like it won't fly for you! =) Good luck with all the wedding planning!

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  12. Out of interest will the Korean's wife be taking the Korean's name as per Anglo American tradition. Or will she be keeping her own surname and potential children get your surname?

    Though in China this doesn't exactly matter too much everybody is called Wong (or a variation of), Lee, Tsang etc.

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  13. Rule number one Korean mom are always right, rule number two if the Korean is right see rule number one.

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  14. No matter the universe, mothers are the rulers of said universe....make no mistake...so rent the room and do so gladly. My mother's passed; I would so like her to be here bossing me around.

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  15. I feel in this case, no one is wrong. Both you and your mon are right. I would do paebeak here in USA and in Korea

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  16. I got married 3 times... with the same guy. A few months in advance, we had a court-house wedding (to get my greencard application started so that i could go to wedding #3 AND get back into the country legally), then a wedding in the US (for the groom's family), then the wedding in France (for my family). So after this wedding marathon, I actually think you are pretty lucky because you get to do everything in one day, and this will be less of a hassle for you. But that's purely from a logistical standpoint. It sounded like having the 폐백 in Korea meant a lot to you so i get why you're disappointed.

    During the wedding planning, there is always a point at which you realize that your wedding is really not the groom and bride's (i.e. yours), but rather belongs the whole family (well, technically mostly the moms). And I think you've just hit that point with the Koreanmomzilla.
    So, yes, that's always a bummer, but in the grand scheme of things as long as the Koreanmomzilla and the rest of the family are accepting of the Korean Fiancee and are looking forward to your wedding, it's all that matters.
    So my advice is just go with the flow and enjoy your wedding, wherever it ends up taking place!

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  17. Dear Korean,

    I am a Korean mother (36) to an amazing, smart, funny, adorable 7 year old boy.

    Do this for your KM with a smile on your face. She birthed you, raised you, fretted over you, lost sleep over you, and loves, loves, LOVES, you.

    It is a small thing which will make your KM so very happy. Just do it and no more screaming.

    Save that for when the Korean and the Korean wife have a Korean baby and the the Korean Mother (now Korean Halmoni) oversteps her bounds, which she will. Because it is in our DNA and we can not help it.

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  18. @ janXknits!: "Do this for your KM with a smile on your face." I understand that this is a very Confucian concept. I also think that it is not a very realistic one. It is one thing for you to control your son's actions- that is your responsibility and right as a parent. It is another one to control his thoughts. Making someone pretend to be happy about a decision that he thinks is wrong is very close to thought control.

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  19. My Kmom didn't even want to do a paebak because my side (groom) only consisted of my parents and my sister in the wedding (all other relatives couldn't make it from Asia), whereas bride's side had most extended relatives present.

    Kmom said paebak's supposed to be for the groom's side, but it would look like the groom's side's "lonely" and that the paebak would appear to be for the bride's side (which it was, since bride's kmom insisted on paebak and paid for it).

    At the end, everyone gets a kick out of the hanbok and take nice pictures that even both kmoms loved. Anyway, let moms have their way, since they're the boss.

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  20. Why is a grown man using pictures of kitschy action figure toys to describe an argument between himself and his mother?

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  21. Because this grown man has a sense of humor, NetKim.

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  22. This talk of 폐백 seems very yang-ban to me. Only rich people can afford to have multiple ceremonies, in both the US and Korea, no less.

    If you would like to know what this ssang-nom thinks of all this, it would appear, since you describe 폐백 as a ceremony for the groom's extended family to receive the bride, the decision on where to have it should depend on the logic of the logistics involved. For example, if more members of your extended family are in Korea than in the US, it makes more sense to have it there.

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  23. Mary: You could have done what I did and not have one! =) When I learned that it was really for the groom's family, the feminist inside me screamed and I decided that I'm not even gonna do one...

    Nobody cared so yay for me but seems like it won't fly for you! =) Good luck with all the wedding planning!


    If people had cared about it (in your case) would you still have not done it? It could have been possible to "modernize" the practice by making it a ceremony for both sets of parents to receive both the bride and the groom, respectively. That what I would have done if I were in your situation.

    And with all due respect, I do not think ideologies such a feminism belong in a healthy marriage. Marriage is about both the man and the woman giving up their own egos to accommodate the other and learning to become one flesh. That's not what feminism is about, is it?

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  24. Wow... comments exploded. The Korean... I said "acting like" not "is". My apologies for the appearance of name-calling. Anyone, even awesome people like Korean moms and Batman, can act like spoiled brats. Nothing quite like weddings or babies to bring that out.

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  25. Are you talking about a new movie? sounds funny, I want see it!

    "My korean fat big wedding" LOL

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  26. @Wanda- The Korean's Mother is not asking anything immoral or illegal of her son. She is asking that for her part of the wedding ceremony, the part where she will welcome a new daughter into her life, that her wishes are taken into account.

    Korean mothers can be dramatic,yes. Which is why there was screaming. But I hope The Korean understands that this is just not an ordinary wedding. To his Korean mother, she in a sense is saying good-bye to her son which may cause her to be a bit emotional. He should be considerate of her feelings and look at the bigger picture.

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  27. @kobukson: "Marriage is about both the man and the woman giving up their own egos to accommodate the other and learning to become one flesh. That's not what feminism is about, is it?" Traditionally, marriage has been about the wife giving up her ego to accommodate the husband. Your version is certainly feminist compared to that.

    @janXknits!: I agree with you that the Korean should do as his mom wishes. She can't, and shouldn't, force him to be happy about it, though.
    Also, the mom isn't losing her son, right? The bride is being absorbed into the GROOM's family. It's the bride's mother who should be tearful.

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  28. I'm only familiar with Western-style Christian weddings, and even those sound like a bag of stress to plan. O_O

    I wish I had better advice to give you. Your entry just makes makes me realize that family members wanting to put their stamp on your wedding day is a universal trait. Best of luck to you, man.

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  29. I completely agree with Sabrina re: "During the wedding planning, there is always a point at which you realize that your wedding is really not the groom and bride's (i.e. yours), but rather belongs the whole family (well, technically mostly the moms)." In the end, this ceremony is about the two families coming together.

    That said, it always sucks when you don't get your way, but as the culture dictates, KM should have her way!

    Btw, love the blog!

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  30. It's good to know that all mothers (universally) can be a pain! :-)
    But it's nice to let her be a part (most likely a big part) and just grin and bear it. I hope you will have a wonderful wedding!

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