Korean wedding style, is it okay the way it is?

Regarding to marriage, there are two words [kyul-hon] and [hon-in] in Korea. Koreans prefer the word [kyul-hon] to [hon-in]. ‘Marriage [kyul-hon]’ means that ‘a man marries a woman or a woman marries a man’ and ‘marriage [hon-in]’ means ‘having marital relation with as husband and wife’ in Korean. And divorce means ‘cutting off relation.’

It seems that there is a antonym of the word ‘marriage [kyul-hon]’, but not that of ‘marriage [hon-in]’. The antonym wasn’t needed in former days because if they got married, they shared their whole life? Moreover, is the expression ‘tied in wedlock’ in common use because of the possibility of divorce which cut all ‘ties’ with spouse? It sounds a bit weird, all of a sudden but ‘marriage [hon-in]’ sounds more friendly than ‘marriage [kyul-hon]’, at least for me.

One of the most important moments in one’s lifetime is ‘marriage.’ There is a verb ‘to marry’ in English but in Korean and in Romanian language, where men and women are classified, the verb ‘a woman marries a man’, ‘a man marries a woman’ and the verb ‘to marry’ which is for both men and women, exists. However, in Romanian language, there is one more verb ‘a se cununa (religious marriage)’, which doesn’t exist in Korean language. It means a religious ceremony which a priest permits the marriage of a man and a woman in front of God. In this way, besides ‘a legal marriage’, there is an expression ‘a religious marriage’ in Europe and USA. ‘A legal marriage’ means registration of the marriage at the district office and ‘a religious marriage’ means a ceremony for swearing to God which is organized by priests or pastors at church.

Christians and Catholics’ religious activities are incomparably more active than those in Europe in these days. However, the holy, religious european culture of the marriage is not yet settled in Korea. Some people have a ceremony at church but many others still prefer luxurious hotels.

The wedding ceremony in these luxurious places which puts emphasis on splendor focuses mainly on events. Women like models with great fanfare appear or the bride and groom with flower basket, riding a horse comes down from the ceiling of the wedding hall, being lit by spotlights. The problem is that many brides-to-be and grooms-to-be prefer this kind of ceremony.

Actually, ‘hotel’ is the place which is not holy, where various kinds of people gather, not knowing one another. It seems that lots of brides-to-be and grooms-to-be don’t think about the meaning of hotel itself because they just think of luxurious external appearance of the building. Even though ‘A hotel’ is the important part of modern civilization which is indispensable in this global era, we should seriously consider that the very important matter of life that comes once in a lifetime should be held in this kind of place.

In comparison, Europeans choose a pleasant and clean place to celebrate a marriage. In most cases, they choose church because they think a wedding ceremony sacred.

In Korea, too many people packed the wedding hall during wedding ceremony. Plenty of ceremonies are conducted one after the other, at the same place, every weekend. When there are teeming with people, getting out of the wedding hall after ceremony and coming to prepare for the next wedding ceremony, there is no place to put our feet.

Custom of congratulatory money is a huge part of the wedding which causes the wedding to be crowded. Custom of congratulatory money exists all over the world but it seems that it is especially activated in Korea. In the past, when people couldn’t live an abundant life, people exchange and share the things for wedding ceremony. Nowadays, however, the innocent meaning of this custom is has been changed negatively. Instead of taking a rest on weekends, in severe cases, people attend the wedding ceremonies for 2-3 times on a weekend. Because of overfull family events, weekend in Korea is not that calmed down.

It is interesting that ‘cutting the wedding cake’ is always included during wedding ceremony in Korea. I can’t say for sure that it is for revenue, I wonder why the bride and groom should ‘cut’ something with a knife on the first day of marriage.

According to the data from Research center for marriage culture in 2012, average cost for marriage in Korea was 280.8 million won (about 260,000$). This is the first time that the cost was over 200 million won. Even though 75 percent of the cost is for marital home, the rest of the cost is still enormous.

For a pair of young lovers to start a family, when they are going on a long journey named ‘marriage’, do they have to follow the existing wedding culture? Isn’t it too much for them from the beginning? We should think about this.


Head of Romanian Department, HUFS, KOREA

Honarary Professor at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University

2010-2012 Visiting Scholar at UC. Berkeley, U.S.A.

ABC Juridic

ABC Juridic a luat naştere din dorinţa de a construi perspective pentru viitorii specialişti în domeniul juridic.

Related articles

No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Comment