Hello, this is Choenan social reporter, Rosa.
There is no choice more intensely personal than choosing a partner whom you will share the rest of your life with. But, because of cultural norms, many couples do not have a choice in who they will marry.
Traditional Korean Weddings are centered on traditional Confucian values. The ceremony is very elaborate and breathtaking, with many symbolic steps attached to the ceremony. In the traditional Korean culture, marriage was an act of being a filial child, doing what was best for the family. Marriages used to be a family obligation, and it was more of a business contract then an equal partnership. In most cases, the couple did not see each other until the day of the wedding. Back then marriages were arranged by the family elders. Once a suitable partner was found, the families would then send a letter of intent to the potential new family. The intended suitor had to meet certain criteria; come from a good family, possess good moral character, smart, filial, and a good standing in the community. Marriages were used as a way of settling a debt, prevent war; and marriages between family members used to be a common way of keeping the family lineage pure, and the wealth in the family. In most culture marriage is still considered the most important rite of passage in one’s life.
Every year during the Cheonan World Dance Festival a foreign couple is chosen to take part in the reenactment of the traditional wedding ceremony to experience the beauty of the Korean culture. This year two teachers from the Korean Nazarene University, Cheonan City English Teacher’s Program were selected to take part in the reenactment of the traditional wedding ceremony. Lona Ngubegusha, 27 years old, and a teacher at the Yongam Elementary School, and Nande Mary Nnanyanzi Kizza, 26 years old, and a teacher at the Ssangyong Elementary School, and both from South Africa. The best part about taking part in the ceremony is that the couple will get to keep their beautiful, handmade traditional hanbok, a traditional Korean dress specially designed for the ceremony, usually made of a lightweight material with bright colors, simple lines, and no pockets. The bride will usually wear a pink or purple hanbok. They were a beautiful couple, they looked gorgeous in their traditional wedding attire. They did an amazing job.
Presentation of the (Kiregi) hand-painted wooden geese. (in some cases, chickens were used)
The wild geese symbolize harmony and love between the husband and wife. Wild geese mate for life. They keep their promise of love till death, even if one partner dies, the other will not remarry and lives alone for the rest of his or her life. Wild geese maintain structure and harmony. The groom bows twice before presenting the kiregi to his future mother -in- law. By giving the mother- in -law the geese the groom is promising to love and protect the daughter. In some cases, chickens were presented. The crowing of the roster in the morning announces the beginning of a bright new start, just like a marriage should be. The rooster in the wedding ceremony marks a hope that evil spirits will go away and not trouble the young couple. Chickens lay many eggs, and the hope that is the couple will have lots of children
The bride and groom
The bride and groom walk in the room assisted by their helpers (two each) who are there to help with the ceremony. The bride and groom stand across the wedding table, which is set up with an assortment of traditional food. The helpers wash the hands of the bride and the groom
and also spread the mat on the floor. The groom bows, then the bride (with hands over her face) and groom stand on the mat facing each other. The bride bows twice, and groom bows back once. The bride bows twice again, then the groom makes a deep bow and kneels down. (this is repeated a few more times)
After the drinks, the vows are read, and the officiant announces the couple as married, and that is the end of the ceremony.
If you ever get an invitation to attend a Traditional Korean Wedding Ceremony, I highly recommend that you attend; it is a beautiful thing to watch and experience. It’s a good way to learn about the rich and beautiful Korean culture.