“You should marry a nice Korean girl”

 “No I’m not married.  Yes I like Korean food.  Yes even kimchi.”  The ajumma’s nod at each other.  “Ahh.  You should marry a nice Korean girl.  They not like American women.” “Some of them…”  And so the conversation went, trailing off into a discussion between the two of them only tangentially related to me extolling the virtues of a good Korean woman. Apparently the chief concern of these women (and of most of my hyungs) is that I get married and that relatively quickly.  Being well matched is clearly at the top of their list of things I need to do. 

BUT… if I need to marry a good Korean woman, where will I find her? The silent question that echoes at back of the admonitions to marry a “good Korean woman” is this: who will sacrifice their daughter so this man can get married? After all, I’m not Korean or even Asian, and most significantly, I’m not even White.  The Asian woman who marries a Black man is a rarity, not because Asian women never date outside their “race” but because, well… you fill in the blank. 

One of my Korean students and I were discussing this issue and he mentioned that his parents told him they would support him no matter who he wanted to marry.  And so he asked what if she wasn’t Korean.  That would be fine, as long as you’re happy.  “What about if she was White?”  This time a slight pause, but again, as long as you’re happy.  “What if I wanted to marry an African-American?”  His parents face went pale, their eyes widened and their mouths dropped open. They did not answer.  It was quite simply too shocking a thing to even be considered. 

If I were a White man I don’t know that that unasked question (who will sacrifice their daughter…) would resound quite as loudly.  Certainly they would prefer their “good Korean daughters” to marry equally “good Korean men” but there are enough mixed race couples, and several of long standing that such a match would not excite much interest.  In fact if I were White they might well assume that my coming to the church was so I could scope out the ladies.  As it is, no such assumptions prevail, or at least none of which I am aware.  Instead I am pure curiosity. 

But would a good Korean woman even feel the freedom to like me? I certainly have no qualms about asking one out and my family quite honestly just wants me to marry somebody and get on with the business of enlarging our clan (my parents have a total of 19 descendants including grandchildren and great grandchildren).  I would chiefly have to contend with the disapproval of the many Black women who would view me as having sold out, though not quite as badly as if I had married a White woman.

 For the woman however, I think it would be a bit more challenging.  Her children, for all intents and purposes, would cease to be Korean and would not really even be considered Korean-American.  They would be Black, and she would have to deal with many more difficulties than me, even in the context of the church, and perhaps more so. In any event there are some fine Korean women out there and I can’t afford to let anyone’s ethnic prejudices keep me from giving them a holla if the opportunity presents itself.

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11 thoughts on ““You should marry a nice Korean girl”

  1. I remember seeing some articles or posts somewhere (alas, I now have no idea where) about exactly these kinds of challenges interracial Black/Asian couples face. The duality of both partners facing issues of “selling out” or betraying one’s race in different ways is quite ironic. Statistically, Asian/White couples are much more common, which means that less has been written about Black/Asian dynamics and issues. And yes, especially among the immigrant parents’ generations, Asian Americans continue to harbor prejudices and stereotypes toward African Americans (and Latinos). We certainly still have a long ways to go in this area, but I’m encouraged that today’s young adults are far more open to crossracial and multiethnic friendships and marriages in general.

  2. im mix with black,white and indian and my gf is korean, ahh i know what you mean her dad is the same way, but i didnt care aslong as we were happy that was the only thing that matter……i get along with her mom just fine , but the dad is a different story, as i speak its still kinda difficult, all i can say is good luck my friend ^^

  3. Marry who you will and love who you want. As a black female who loves God I find your comment condescending – not all black women will think you are a sell out.

    I have always heard, that if a black man haven’t married by 30 years of age something is “wrong” with him. I love Korean women I think the are the most beautiful women next to Brazilian women (big smiles…sometimes I ask God why he didn’t create me Brazilian hehehehe, just joking) on the planet. So thank you for article but I get offend when black men label me as you did…

  4. Thanks Tracy for stopping by and I apologize for any perceived condescension. I said many Black women, not all would view me as a sell out, but I appreciate your calling me on even that.

  5. I read this and what comes to mind is my time in Japan visiting a friend in 2003. We went to her church which was pastored by a brother(like yourself) and his wife was Japanese. They had four beautiful children – three girls and one little boy. And their congregation was small but still a good size. And I can tell they all accepted and respected their pastor + family. There are a lot of open and accepting people for whom skin color is not an issue. I’m one of them.

  6. As a disclaimer i love my extended korean family and i am sure this isnt everyone situation, i am not even saying it is typical. its just mine:

    If it makes you feel any better non korean women can expirence a similar situation. I attend a Korean church, speak and write some Korean, and love great Korean food. I don’t say this for my vanity, but I am not ugly. They love me but in a way people love an oddity or a novelity. I mean western white blonde blue eyed girl with Korean flare, its not average 😉 Everyone is friendly and sweet until someone’s eligible son looks in my general direction, then a strange shift in the atomosphere occurs because i am not a “good Korean woman”. key word being Korean. I am not “on the hunt” by any means for anyone at thay matter, but its interesting how I am responded to. I have even heard “If only you were a Korean girl” and “I would love to date a western girl for but for fun, never for long and never marry one.” I am not offended, I laugh and shrug it off. I figure its not intentionaly offensive. I love every single one of them they are sweet and welcoming. Just wanted you to know you are not alone.

  7. Right. You should do that. Good choice. Korean women are the most stunning women on this planet. There are no ugly Korean women, you know? I mean, Korean women are thin and small. OK, some Western guys complain about too skinny Korean ladies but they are beautiful. What else do you need from a girl?

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