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[PERSPECTIVE]A marriage that got lost in translation

Apr 23,2007
Taeko Monya
Taeko Monya came to South Korea believing that love could conquer cultural barriers, but is now separated from her Korean husband and disillusioned with life on the peninsula.
She met her future husband when the two of them were studying English in New Zealand. They fell in love and returned to Japan, where her husband studied Japanese. They then made the jump back to Korea for their wedding, full of optimism about living in cross-cultural harmony. The honeymoon quickly faded, however, along with Taeko’s belief in love’s capacity to overcome the obstacles presented by life in a new country.
Many of her problems stemmed from the language barrier. “As foreigners, we are already stressed in Korea, but marriage presents new stresses. Because of the different language, we have to explain what we mean first, and then the different cultural meaning,” she said. “So, stupid problems happen a lot. My Japanese friends who married Korean men have the same problem,” she added.
She now feels that Koreans and Japanese have intrinsically different approaches to life.
“In Japan, we appreciate beautiful flowers and delicious food and things like that. But many Koreans still have a survivor style of living because they used to have to struggle to live,” she said. “They only think about working hard, studying hard, getting a good job and getting married.”
This difference complicated communication between her and her husband. It often seems to her now that the only link between them is their 5-year-old son.When asked if she plans to stay in Korea, she sighed. “If we don’t get divorced, I’ll probably stay here,” she said.


By Richard Scott-Ashe



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