It has been a dream of mine to get my feet to Korea and it finally came to reality, but the reason for being there was something I didn’t dream of.
Meeting my Korean in-laws! Oh, boy was I so edgy thinking about the whole situation. Recalling all those Kdramas I watched in the time of my everything Korean fandom 2 years back, added more shooting pains to my agony. I’m exaggerating things here but believe me or not, I couldn’t explain how I felt on my flight to Korea. Excitement and jitters were fighting over me. Jitters eventually got me.
“Will they like me?” “How will they treat me?” “What are they like?” “What should I do?” “Should I give them something?”
I asked myself again and again. I even googled tips and experiences. Nonetheless, I was still on pins and needles. This was probably due to the fact that this meeting was a little late. My husband didn’t bother to personally introduce me to his family prior to our wedding. I met his mom and dad online but only through Facebook chats. They seemed nice. We also talked over the phone a few times but I couldn’t make our conversations long. Why? Because my Korean wasn’t good enough. My level declined after the long hiatus of studying.
Despite being worried, I was still looking forward to the day. So how was it?
It wasn’t like the Kdramas. Not even close. I thought I was going to walk around them on tiptoe. They were not like that of a traditional Korean family. It seemed to me that they have started to open their mind to other nationalities and cultures. I didn’t see what I was expecting from them. They welcomed me and treated me just like a family. My omonim (mother-in-law) was nice. Taught me how to eat Korean food the traditional way. I was familiar with it, though. However, it was great to hear it from someone I didn’t imagine to be my mother-in-law. Then there was my abonim (father-in-law) who looked strict but when he was boozed up, he instantly had his own talk show. Both of them gave us gifts which were not expected. Omonim gave me clothes, while abonim gave me a gold necklace and bracelet. It was so thoughtful of them to do so. I also met my brother-in-law, his wife and kid, my hubby’s three aunts and one uncle who is the husband of one of his aunts. They were all nice to me. I couldn’t complain.
Let me share my realizations with you. Perhaps they could be of any use to you when you’re meeting your Korean in-laws for the first time.
- Never believe the Kdramas. Obviously! lol
- It’s okay to get worried but never let it beat you down. Avoid the sleepless nights.
- Don’t forget to bring presents. They don’t have to be extravagant. It’s helpful to ask your Korean spouse about his/her parents’ interests so you’ll have an idea on what to give them.
- Show the real you. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.
- Show them how much you love your husband/wife.
There was one time my omonim saw us holding hands and she jokingly asked why we had to do it in front of them. That part was not that normal for them yet. But I wasn’t embarrassed about doing it. I wanted them to see I was and will always be proud of having their son.
- Help them with the household chores even when they tell you not to especially if you’re the wife. This is to let them know that you are not a princess in their absence. They want to see if their son is well taken care of.
- Cook your traditional food for them. They would love to know your culture, too.
- Learn basic Korean. You’ll get by.
Communication is a crucial part. If you don’t even know how to greet them, that would be a major turn off. On the other hand, if they know that you know the basic, they would certainly appreciate the effort. Be ready for their constant command, “Study harder!” (한국어 열심히 공부 in Korean). I couldn’t count the times they told me so which somehow made me think they were putting pressure on me. I know it was for my sake. They told me they wanted to talk with me a lot.
- Hope for the best, expect the worst.
I was indeed expecting them to be indifferent with me, but it was the total opposite. Perhaps I was fortunate to meet such a family. Although they were not perfect, they still showed me kindness which I was so grateful for.
Remember that not all Korean families are exactly the same. I understand that you might have a different experience. How was your first meeting with them?
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