Welcome to a new column that I’m very excited about: Korean Wife Camp!
I’ve never had much of a culture of my own. I come from a Greek/Euro-mutt background, if you trace my blood lineage. I don’t belong to any one religion. And I’d say that culturally, I relate most to having been a born-and-bred Chicagoan. And believe you me, I had a thrilling time indoctrinating Paul into my world via Italian Beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs, deep dish pizza, and a city/skyline tour when we spent 2 weeks in the ole windy city last summer. (and gained about 10 pounds each! So. Worth. It.)
But Paul is first generation Korean-American. His parents immigrated here just before he was born, with no family or friends in Los Angeles to rely on. And after his father abandoned them both when Paul was just a baby, his mother Michelle had to work multiple jobs, while trying to learn English, to support her in raising Paul all by herself. And she did a BOSS job of raising him, by the way. She is a true hero of a woman and mother.
As a result, Paul’s primary language growing up was Korean. And to this day, when he and his mom get together, they speak Korean to each other. Michelle does speak English quite well, but it’s clear that she’s much more comfortable speaking in her native tongue, and spends most of her free time with Korean friends (when not spending time with her Argentina-native husband, Edgar). Fun fact: Michelle is an amazing ballroom dancer and scratch golfer – both skills she took up after Paul left home for college, to distract her from her sadness that he had moved out. She often stays out dancing until the wee hours, partying it up with her girlfriends in Koreatown. So cute, you guys.
Koreans have a huge amount of pride in their culture and it’s preservation and legacy, after having defended against many years of Japanese occupation and attempted assimilation. As well they should!
I have great respect for the Korean culture, so it’s very important to me that I learn as much as I can about it, to support the cultural legacy through our growing family by learning the language, preparing their foods (oh my god, the yummy foods!), teaching our future children about it, and taking them on trips to get to know their extended family there. My first trip is coming up this October, when we spend 16 nights in Seoul as part of our honeymoon! I can’t wait!
Over the past year, I’ve been learning, researching, practicing, exploring and trying as much as I can to become more schooled and comfortable in my position as the wife and daughter-in-law in a Korean family. And as the future matriarch of 1/2 korean children. And I figure, I’m not alone in this world… so I’ll share my journey, resources, and (best of all), recipes here. Thus: Korean Wife Camp was born!
Stay tuned… the first installment is coming up shortly!