Hi! I’m a non-Korean girl (but still Asian-American) in a happy one-year-long relationship with a pure South Korean boy. I heart my oppa, who makes me feel loved and appreciated everyday…The problem is: my parents are biased toward other groups of people and hate my boyfriend, even though he’s never hurt or insulted them. He’s completely gentle and the most respectful person I’ve ever met. He’s so respectful he’ll stay out of my parents’ eyesight for fear that I’ll be lectured or disowned for dating “my” Korean boy. (But this doesn’t mean he’ll let go of our relationship.)
I’ve heard of relationships that work out just fine, like yours! But what kind of advice can you offer to a girl–or woman–who’s having difficulty choosing sides? Sure I love my family, as they are my providers and friends in one, but I’m also old enough to…well, start searching for my Mr. Right and have my own family. (To help you ponder this deeper, I’m 25 and my oppa’s 31 years of age).
And to be honest, I can’t see myself with another guy. I only see Oppa because I know him and I trust him. His loyalty and kind heart was what won me (not his looks, as my Dad would say, because supposedly “all Korean people look like movie stars”–but not my oppa; he’s just a nerd like me.)
We thought about your question a lot and it is really difficult to give a good advice. If it was anyone else but your family that behaved this way – judged others solely based on their nationality – we would tell you that you don’t need that kind of people in your life. However, parents are too important to give up on them easily. Especially since you say that they are your providers and friends so it seems you otherwise have a good relationship with them.
You definitely need to make your own choice and stick with your Oppa. He sounds like a wonderful guy. Even if it turns out you two are not a perfect match and you find another guy who is Mr. Right, all that needs to be your choice. Those mistakes are yours to make.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to kick your parents out of your life. What you see as their hate towards your boyfriend, they probably see as their concern for you. First, if you haven’t yet, try to talk to them to find out the exact reasons for their worry. Are they afraid you will lose your culture? Do they think a man with different background can’t truly understand you? Don’t defend Oppa, just hear what they have to say. After you understood their fears try to comfort them. If it’s culture, tell them it is important to you and you will do everything to keep it (even if that is not entirely true) and so on.
If that doesn’t help, and unfortunately it probably won’t, steer the conversation so it is about them and you, not them and your Oppa. If they say all Korean men are so and so, don’t go and defend him and say he is different. Instead say: “Do you think I am so irresponsible to be with a man like that?” If they say he will treat you badly say: “Do you think I would allow a man to treat me that way?” Make it clear that if they try to say something bad about him, they are saying something bad about you. Give them time and this way they will hopefully realize you deserve their trust and in the process you will give your Oppa what he deserves – protection from these unfounded accusations.
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In the end, I would like to recommend a book “Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After“. It is written by an American actress Diane Farr who is now married to a Korean-American man Seung Yong Chung and they have three children.
This book got really good reviews on Amazon, but I must admit I didn’t think so highly of it. It seemed to me the writer was trying too hard to convince us his Korean family was discriminating her and that she was faces with prejudices for the sake of writing an interesting book. That his family was in fact welcoming and accepting is shined through the pages all the time to me.
However, this woman also interviewed and put into her book many other interracial couples or couples from different religious or cultural backgrounds. Some of them had lost contact with their parents and some managed to keep it so I think their experiences might help you.
Here is a video of an interview with Diane Farr about her book.
Also I found an answer to a similar problem as yours in the Slate Magazine’s an advice column, it is somewhere on the middle of the page under subtitle ‘Stuck in the Middle‘.
We wish you best of luck and hope everything turns out well for you and your Oppa.
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