Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Marriage;No Moving Out!

As I was teaching English to my small adults class, a topic came up that raised my eyebrow,
it was not permitted for women to move out of their parents home until they were married!

WHAT! With my Western (as well as European) liberal (though slighlty conservative) thought process kicking into gear, the first thing I thought was "this is crazy." Moving out of the house is a sort of freedom or a mandatory action; parents kicking us out or what not! I always thought, or "our western view," once you hit a certain age it's time to go. And, for some, once you pass the expiration age date of living with your parents you're viewed as, well, lack of a better word "sad." Now they're are always a few exceptions i.e. trying to save money, resting spot for the next "big" move but even these have their limitations.

I delved in some more, and found out that it is just frowned upon. It makes no sense to the families to leave or move away from them if you are not trying to form a life with your husband or wife. And there is no reason to either; families should stick together. So that means if a woman is in her mid 30's she doesn't not move out. That means one with an established career who can live on their own, won't. Now I am not speaking for all of South Korea, this is just what was told to me from my little section, Oedo, on Jeju Island, but regardless, it has taken me a little bit to understand.

I went out with a fellow Korean girlfriend of mine, she is 32, not married and lives at home, and we got into the moving out topic; as she was informing me her mother had called.

This is all in Korean but I'll give you a synopsis in English:

Mom: "Where are you?"

Daughter: "I'm out with friends."

Mom: "Why are you always out, you should be home."

Daughter: "I'm with my American friend, Lori."

Mom: "Oh, okay, bye."

My friend shut the phone, and she sighed. I had no idea what was going on, so I asked "Are you ok?"
"Yes," she said with a clear look of aggrevation.
She begin to tell my what happened, and evethough we laughed together about it, she explained how it can be very annoying but she really can't say anything.
Now I am thinking in my mind, uh this conversation would only be taking place if I was, I don't know maybe 18, but NEVER at 32?!
I understand the family bonds, for I come from a strong family unit that was very strict but very loving. Portuguese and strong, but at a certain age that hold on me was severed and now it was time to grow on my own, with occasional worries and caring from my family. Now at 25 I live away and go my own pace, and I am still very close to my family. To think about living home until I got married, I CAN'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, not because of my family but because I would feel restricted.

My Korean friends tell me how they wish it was more like "my way," because there is so much they want to do, and others don't mind because it's of the norm...."to each its own" I think while I type. I learn something new everyday.

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