Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Lessons from a Korean mother-in-law (part 12)
As always, this is a post, in a series dedicated to a mother-in-law that I deeply love and dearly miss. All posts in this series are true events that happened to me.
Here's a quick link to the other stories.
We'll call this entry:
First Impressions of a White Girl
- OR -
A Picture is Worth a
Thousand Single Word
When I first met Sung Hyun he didn't speak English. Communication was...interesting. It still is, see. After a few months of dating, I asked him if he told his family about me. He said "my family no".
I was sad and hurt. I knew that it was not common for Korean men to date Western women. I also knew that children don't tell their parents about their partner until their relationship is serious. And quite often the parent's opinion of the partner is a great factor in whether or not the couple will get married.
"Why didn't you tell your family about me?" I asked.
"Yes, my family is a no," he replied.
"No or know?" I asked in confusion. "No means they don't know," I shook my head side to side to show him. "And know, with a 'k' means yes they know," I nodded my head.
Now I was even more confused and so was he. We resorted to drawing on paper. Think pictionary, you know that game where you draw a picture and your team tries to guess your clue. That was us on a daily basis. Except we didn't play it for fun, but rather so we could communicate. On the paper I drew me. Then I drew Sung Hyun's family with an arrow pointing to me. Sung Hyun replied with "no".
Now I was angry. "Really, you're family doesn't know me? I told my family about you. I write about you on my homepage. My family can see [your] picture," I went on.
When Sung Hyun figured out the difference between 'no' and 'know', he realized why I was getting frustrated.
He confirmed that yes indeed his family knew about me. The kind of know that starts with 'k' not 'n'.
I was ecstatic. This was an indication that Sung Hyun really liked me.
"My family see picture Jennifer," Sung Hyun continued.
"Yes, our together picture. They want see girlfriend," he continued.
"After they see my picture, what think?" I asked in broken English -- a bad habit that I acquired early on in our relationship as a survival tool.
"My family think....ahhh umm," Sung Hyun paused to reach for his cell phone in search of a word. We often resorted to the cell phone for one-work translations.
Sung Hyun passed the phone to me.
The word on the screen spelled chubby.
"My family think you chubby," he confirmed.