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What do you find interesting about Korea? Perhaps even interested enough to study Korean for?
I’d wager that very few of you would consider doing so for pottery or the history of kimchi-making. Unfortunately however, such things are still staples of most Korean textbooks and courses on Korean culture.
But as the blogger I, Foreigner points out:
…sometimes I wonder if Koreans actually know what their own culture is all about. Do they not realize that watching TV on tiny screens on the bus/subway, playing games at the PC bang all day and boiling it up at the Jimjil Bang or Baths are as much part of Korean culture as kimchi is? Would it not be more useful for us to learn more about the history and use of these? Show me ONE teacher who has been here more than a month who has not heard about the whole history of kimchi.
And not just more useful, but also more interesting and more entertaining too. In that vein, let me present the blog “솔직녀의 섹스와 연애 이야기” (An Honest Woman’s Thoughts on Sex and Love) as an alternative Korean study source, and of course as another Korean voice on gender and sexuality in Korea also.
While the author has actually been living in America for 10 years, in her own words she’s had a lot of Korean boyfriends and sexual experiences, and more importantly aims to avoid a loveless and sexless marriage like many of her counterparts back in Korea. In particular, it was this post about teaching Korean to her American boyfriend that first caught my eye, and which readers here might be most interested in. Rather than spoiling that for you though, and being unable to choose from so many interesting-looking posts to translate myself, here is one my wife selected for me instead(!):
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혼전섹스는 결혼의 필수조건 Why Sex Before Marriage is Necessary
최근에 이글루스에선 처녀 논쟁이 한창이었다. 뭐 보지 않아도 뻔한 논쟁이지만, 아직도 여자는 결혼할때까지 처녀여야 된다고 주장하는 사람들을 보면서 묻고 싶었다.
Recently, on Egloos there was a big debate about virginity and sex before marriage. It was predictable and quite boring really, but it showed me that still some people think that women have to be virgins before marriage. Which made me ask myself the following:
사랑하는 사람이 처녀가 아니면 그 사람과 결혼 못한다는 얘긴가? 누군가를 사귀기 시작해서 좋아하게 됐는데 알고보니 섹스 경험이 있더라.. 그러면 좋았던 감정이 사그라드는건가? 결혼하고 싶은 여자가 있는데 혼전 섹스를 하자고 한다면? 꾹참고 결혼할때까지 기다려 할껀가?
Are there people that would not marry someone they loved if they discovered that they weren’t a virgin? If they found out after starting to like someone that they have had sexual experience, would their feelings for them disappear? How about if a woman they loved suggested having sex before marriage? Do both of them still have to resolutely suppress their desires until the wedding night?
사람마다 가치관이 다르니 누가 옳다 그르다 따지고 싶진 않다. 하지만 누가 나에게 혼전섹스에 대해 어떻게 생각하냐고 묻는다면 난 주저없이 말하겠다.
Everybody’s values are different, and I don’t want to distinguish between right and wrong here. But if anybody asks me what I think of sex before marriage, I wouldn’t hesitate to give my answer:
넌 차 살 때 테스트 드라이브도 안 해보니?
Wouldn’t you test-drive a car before buying it?
모든 남자가 차로 치면 벤츠나 BMW 같을 수는 없지만, 최소한 내가 편안하게 느낄 수는 있어야 되지 않을까? 좀 삐거덕 거리는 부분이 있다면 고칠 수도 있겠지만, 아무래도 어색하고 영 내 몸에 안맞는 차가 있듯이, 사람도 그렇다. 서로 좋아해도 이상하게 섹스에 있어선 영 아닌 경우가 있다. 그리고 섹스가 영 아니다보면 결국 그 남녀관계엔 불만이 생기게 마련이다.
If all men are cars shall we say, then of course not all can be Benzes or BMWs. But at least I should feel comfortable driving it before I buy it, yes? And sure, if there’s a squeaking noise or small problem, then it can be fixed. But still, I wouldn’t feel as comfortable about buying it anymore. Just like people. Strangely, even if a man and a woman really like each other, the sex can be bad. And if it continues to be bad, then of course it will be a problem for their relationship.
1년 정도 사귀었던 남자친구가 그런 경우였다. 원래가 그다지 말이 많은 사람이 아니었지만, 섹스에 관해선 거의 서로 침묵을 지키던 사이었다. 문제는 난 그와의 섹스가 전혀 만족스럽지 않았던거다. 난 나름 그를 흥분시켜주려구 ‘자긴 내가 뭘해주면 좋아?’ 물어보면, ‘음.. 니가 하고 싶은대로 해.’ 모든 대답이 이런 식이니.. 내가 만족스러운지 어떤지는 한 번도 물어본 적이 없고, 그러니 나도 물어보기 힘들고.. 그와는 결국 헤어졌고 (섹스가 가장 큰 이유는 아니었다), 헤어질 때까지도 서로의 섹스만족도에 대해선 한마디도 나누지 못했다.
This happened with a boyfriend I had for one year. Originally, he wasn’t really a talkative person, and although we did have sex we never talked about it with each other. But it was completely unsatisfying for me. I would ask him “What would you like me to do to turn you on?,” but he would always answer “Do whatever you want.” And he never asked me if it was good or not for me, which meant it was kind of awkward for me to ask him n turn. In the end, we split up. Our unsatisfactory sex life wasn’t the biggest reason for that, but then until the split-up we never asked each other even once if it was good for the other person or not.
섹스가 잘 맞는 상대와는 섹스에 대해 솔직하게 얘기하기가 쉽다. 서로 기본적으론 만족스러워하는 걸 아니까. 잘 안 맞는 상대일 수록 섹스얘기를 꺼내기 힘들고, 그러다보면 계속 불만이 쌓이고.. 악순환의 연속인거다. 그런 상황을 피하기 위해서라도 진지하게 좋아하는 상대라면 더욱더 결혼을 결심하기 전에 섹스를 해볼 필요가 있다. 좋으면 다행인거고, 실망이라면 적어도 결혼하기 전에 실망하는게 나으니까.
It’s easy to speak honestly to talk about sex with someone when the sex is good. Basically, because you both already know the other is satisfied. But for those for whom the sex is bad, it’s very difficult to bring the subject up. But that leads to a viscous circle of bad sex leading to not talking about it, which leads to continued bad sex, and so on. So, if you want to avoid that happening with a partner whom you really like and are thinking about marrying, then you really need to have sex with them before making that decision. It’s better to be disappointed before marriage rather than after.
결혼 상대는 결국 평생의 섹스 파트너가 되는 셈인데 섹스를 테스트해보지 않고 결혼하는건 너무 위험한 결정아닐까?
Your wife or husband will be your lifelong sexual partner, so not having sex before marriage is very risky!
James: Personally, I would rather have stressed the value of talking with your partner particularly if the sex is bad. And I’m a little troubled with her argument that she would still be put off buying a ‘car’ with a ‘small problem’ even if it got fixed, and in turn that she seems to be advocating simply giving up on your partner if they’re bad in bed rather than biting the bullet and talking to them about it!
But I don’t want to potentially misrepresent her views, as I haven’t really read enough of her posts to properly judge her opinions yet. And of course something may be lost in translation, so I invite and would very much appreciate it if any other Korean speakers could check for me.
In the meantime, for those with Korean partners especially, I hope you enjoy the “inside information” she regularly offers!
(For all posts in the Korean Sources on Sexuality and Gender series, see here)