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Korean Marriage Customs

arriage is a very important event in individual's lives regardless of nationality; in Korea, people were not considered adults until they were married, and this belief has only recently begun to change. Marriage was also considered a ceremony that each individual had to go through along with birth and death. Korea is no exception in regards to the importance and emphasis placed on marriage. It is such a big event that entire families and friends from both bride's and groom's sides participate. Let's take a look at the Korean marriage custom.

According to a survey, more than 1,000 weddings take place each day and large sums of money are spent on them each year. An equivalent of nearly 16% of the Korean government's annual budget is spent on marriage ceremonies. Such large sums of money are spent on the marriage ceremony, providing a house, household `items, and furniture. Instead of gifts, the guests donate money as a means to help offset the high costs. Before Korea was influenced by western culture, only a traditional marriage ceremony was done and today too, some people still choose to have their wedding ceremonies in this fashion though the majority of couples choose a western ceremony.

The Korean traditional marriage ceremony, known as 'Daerye', has some very complicated procedures. For Daerye, a groom first visits a bride's house and delivers a wooden goose to the bride as a promise to remain loyal and faithful. The bride covers her face and come to the table that is going to be used for the marriage ceremony. The bride and groom stand on each side of the table with the table between them. Next, mothers from both sides light a candle. The bride and groom wash their hands as a meaning of keeping their bodies and minds clean, and then they bow to each other twice.

After that, they offer wine to each other tree times and drink it. This contains a symbolic meaning of two people becoming one. When the ceremony is over, the couple spends the first night in the bride's house. Groom should gently take off bride's hanbok with many folds in it. There is a custom that the neighbors peep into the room to see if their first night goes well. A Korean traditional marriage ceremony is performed at 3:00pm every Saturday in Namsangol Hanok Mall. (exit number three of Chungmuro station, subway lines three and four)

Today's marriage ceremony is done in a wedding hall in western style. Even though the marriage ceremony has been changed to reflect western style, some traditional marriage customs still exist. They are "ham" and "pyebaek."

"Ham" is a bag filled with presents for the bride that the groom's family sends to the bride to show appreciation for the marriage. The groom's friends take the "ham" to the bride's house on the night before the marriage ceremony and shout in front of the house, "Buy the ham!" The bride's family and friends come out and greet them with gifts of food in return. The groom's friends and bride's friends cheerfully drink and eat together the rest of the night.

"Pyebaek" is a ceremony where the bride prepares food that her family has made and visits the groom's family for the first time after the marriage ceremony is finished. Today, pyebaek is practiced in the wedding halls. The bride and groom dress in hanboks and bow to the groom's parents, and the parents throw chestnuts and jujube berries to the bride in return. They do it while wishing for the bride to bare a male child, as well as have many children.

After the marriage, the newlyweds go on their honeymoon. Today, many couples travel to other countries for their honeymoon, though many stay in Korea and visit Cheju Island. Koreas wedding traditions are thus a mix of the east and west.

(Sourced from WHAT'S ON SEOUL)

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