Ask Joshing Gnome for Monday, June 9, 2008

I got an email today from a reader with an interesting question.

I just took a look at your blog while i was looking for information about korean/foreigner married couples in korea.

My wife (korean citizen) and i live in LA and recently have gotten news about her permanent resident status change. at this point we know that she was denied for some reason and have considered the possibility of having to move to korea. I love korea, lived there for a year and have had a couple research trips and one for our wedding. I grew up with koreans in the states and feel quite comfortable in korea. i love korea.  my wife on the other hand tells me how “mixed couple” blogs( from korea)  that she looks at all talk about the difficulty of living in korea with someone who is not korean.

i have had my own “run-ins” with korean men about me being american and look past it at this point realizing that we still have the same issues in the states, even after hundreds of years of slavery etc.

i read about your recent incident while getting national health
insurance and was wondering if things like this are a daily thing that create conflict between you and your wife.

Just feel free to let me know of your thoughts on this issue.

To which I replied

Hey fifeg,
I read your letter with my wife today and her first reaction was ‘It’s not that big a deal’.  You have to remember that expat blogs are usually more cathartic than educational, and they’re going to wind up containing unrepresentatively large numbers of posts about bad stuff happening.  My wife and I almost never experience any serious, old-school American-style racism.  Part of that is likely the fact that I have a pretty good attitude about life and I speak Korean.  Truth be told, I am always on the lookout for the day-ruining racist incident that’s going to set me off the deep end, but it almost never comes.
That said, I am a white guy.  I am sure that has a lot to do with it, as you probably know, Koreans are pretty racist, and they are pretty much pro-white guy in general, so if you are a white guy, I wouldn’t expect too much trouble.  Otherwise, I can’t really tell you what to expect.  On account of the racism.
Now the real thing you should be worried about is the fact that Koreans are not incredibly friendly people.  Kind, certainly, to those they know, but friendly, no.  I would say that’s the biggest challenge to living in Korea, as it wears on you like nobody’s business.
The bottom line, though, is that none of this has ever caused a problem between me and my wife.  We are totally on the same page about the situation, and if anything I would say that Miyoung experiences a great deal of freedom from societal expectations because her husband is not Korean.
If you do come live in Korea, don’t expect it to be what you expect.  Read a lot of blogs, get in touch with the people who write them and ask their opinions.  The people you meet and work and live with here are different from you and me and the people you met on your brief trips here, because when you live here you’re right up against them, and you’re on their turf and there’s no way out.  In a good way.
Hope I answered your question.  Any more questions just let me know.


~ by Joshing on June 9, 2008.

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