Am I breaking up with Korea?

breaking up with KoreaIt’s been a rough couple of days. It’s difficult smiling. And it’s difficult getting used to not having him in my life.

I’m still not there yet.

Actually, we have stayed in touch but it’s so different now. So… official.

It’s been a whole week. It seems much longer.

I thought the fact we both agreed this is for the best would make it easier, but it hasn’t. Or if it has, how would it have been otherwise!?

For the first few days, only loss I felt was from not being close to him anymore. But slowly I’m starting to consider other things I lost as well.

Firstly, there is the loss of a relationship. I already mentioned I’m sick, and housebound at that, which means starting a new relationship is close to impossible. Fine, it’s impossible. I was never one to stay in relationship that wasn’t working only for the fear of being alone, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit it makes me even more miserable in this situation.

Secondly, there is the loss of Korean… well, everything.

Unlike many of my readers who got interested in Korea first, whether through drama, movies, Kpop or culture, and then got interested in Korean men, for me it was the other way around. When I met Kimchi Man I knew next to nothing about Korea. And once I fell in love with him my interest in Korea grew as an interest in his country.

When I would look at the map of Korea, I saw a place where he was born, a city he grew up in, a city he went to high school in, a city he served his military service in, a town where he sat as we Skyped… Now, all there is left when I look at a map of Korea… is … well, a map of a foreign country.

I never even managed to visit it.

Despite being barely a beginner, I can honestly say I put a lot of effort into learning Korean language. And the reason for doing it, and what was driving me forward even when I would get stuck, was the idea of speaking to him in his native language. Being able to communicate with his friends and family. Now, even if I would learn Korean perfectly there would be no one to talk back to me.

And so on. Korean culture, Korean food, Korean stationary, Korean entertainment, nothing holds the special significance for me without him. All that was meaningful because we shared it.

After all these years it’s difficult not to equate Korea with him.

But if I was to be honest, I would have to admit that wasn’t a completely bad thing. It means I received Korea through him, a man I loved. And despite our differences that made it impossible to stay in a relationship, we were in many ways so similar. We had same view of life and ideas about what was right and wrong. And so everything I received of Korea, came filtered through him which made it less foreign, worrisome and strange and more exotic, awe-inspiring and exciting.

But where does all this leave me now?

Is my “relationship” with Korea doomed because my relationship with Kimchi Man is gone?

Or has these three years of enjoying Korean culture and learning more about Korea than I’m probably even aware of right now, created a bond that might not be so easily broken?

37 thoughts on “Am I breaking up with Korea?

  1. I understand this situation well, where a certain country is linked closely with one person. I guess the key is to make other connections with Korea and start to love it outside of the context of him. It takes time though, don’t rush it. :)
    I’ve lived in Korea for nine years and love it over here. If you ever get the chance, it’s a great place to visit, especially if you already know a little Korean.

  2. I have a story like you. I was once engaged to this Kimchi Man. Now, i’m stationed in his country, fluent in this language and we are no longer together. :/ i didnt break up with the country— i ended up stuck in it. Lol

      • At first i did. But learning a language opens up so many social doors for you. Also, being in a relationship like that (where his parents told him i wasnt good enough to marry because of my skin color and he agreed to break up with me) taught me to value myself and my own culture.
        Sometimes, we begin a search/quest for something in order to distract ourselves from what we are really looking for. I have a greater sense of self, now.

        • Same with me we got engage and his family came to my country to ask for my families blessing. Then after a couple of months things changed. His family said Im not good enough. They just wanted me to be a plain house wife even though Im a career woman. Im willing to sacrifice all the things for him but he cant even sacrifice even a little thing for me.

  3. Something similar happened to me. I met a man and in falling in love with him, I fell in love with his culture. Like you, I had dreams of conversing with his family, and learning to cook meals like his mother. When we got engaged I was planning on incorporating his cultural wedding customs with my own. And when we broke up… it was devastating. It was a mutual decision, and it was the right thing to do. However, that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I had to grieve over the loss of him in my daily life, as much as the excitement of incorporating so many new customs. When the dust settled, and I could take deep breaths again, I consciously let go of his culture. Doing so helped me grieve him much easier. It was harder to do than I realized. I had learned so much during out time together to the point that I now identified with his culture and customs. A few months had gone by until one day I craved a particular dish… I really wanted to taste those flavors again. I ignored the craving for a week or so, until I finally caved. I cooked the dish following the recipe I had learned from him, and it was as delicious eating it alone as it was eating it with him. That is when I realized my heart could open again to his culture, and that it was okay. I was okay. If knowledge is power, then you are now a more powerful person. I now use what I have learned and incorporate it into who I am, who I will become. Stay strong and be blessed. Fighting!

  4. On my way home tonight I was writing something in my head about how it has become difficult for me to learn Korean these days because of the Korean guy who broke my heart when I open my email and saw this post.

    I was… surprised! Shocked, may be a better term? I’m sorry to hear you two broke up. As you know there’s this Korean guy I like(d?). Things got complicated between us and my heart ended up broken into million of pieces.

    I can’t remember how exactly I stumbled upon your blog but it was at the time when I started loving (albeit unrequited) my Korean guy. Aside from learning loads of stuff from you and your readers (thanks to you both!), I actually “envied” you two since things worked out between you and him and I have no idea what’s it is for me and my Korean guy, if any. I “envied” you more when things didn’t work out between me and the guy.

    Now I’m still trying to mend my broken heart (mind you it has been a long time and I haven’t moved on!) and I can’t help but feel sad when I read your post. I’m glad though that at least it was something you mutually decided (from what I perceived on your previous post).

    I do hope you’ll still have interest in Korean culture. I know it can be very difficult, especially in your case. I’ve been learning Korean for about 6 years before I met my Korean guy, but he’s been helping me a bit with my Korean and answering my endless questions and talking to me in straight Korean for about a year. Now when I try to study, thoughts of him keeps going through my mind on every other sentence I read. Though it’s painful and a bit torturesome for me to keep studying Korean, I still do. The pain he caused (and his memories are causing) is not enough to take away my already ‘deep’ relationship with Korean culture and language. So I can endure any pain and keep going. He’s just one guy. I’ve been in a relationship with Korean culture longer. I know it’s a bit different in your case, as what you’ve mentioned. Well, we’ll see in the future. For the meantime, I hope you’ll be able to move on and cope with the break up better than I am. And most of all, I hope for your quick recovery. I hope you’ll still keep in touch!

    • Yeah, if you’ve been studying Korean for 6 years before you met him then it is “your thing” even if you two built nice memories later on. (May I ask how well you know Korean now?)

      I think it’s a good lesson not to envy other people. Sure, I felt the passionate and fulfilling love, but at the same time the disease has robbed me of everything else in my life, and in the end probably had a lot to do with running my relationship as well. I am safe to bet that 99% of my readers have much happier lives than me.

      Thank you for your kind wishes.

      • I can carry conversation and can definitely live in Korea without any problems. I can express what I want to say though I probably sound strange (either a kid or a korean drama character). There are still many things I don’t understand but I can tell the other person to explain it to me in a simpler way. Can’t go out in Korea without a dictionary. I still needs subtitles for dramas and movies but can survive watching a kiddie variety show without one. Still can’t understand news and narratives such as novels but children’s book and comics are ok.

        I’ve been learning not to envy other people these days. :) How are you doing? Me, no progress! :(

        • I’m getting better and better every day. As far as the break-up is concerned. We still keep in touch, though not as much as before.

          As far as my health is concerned it’s getting worse all the time.

          I don’t want to sound prechy or melodramatic, but as long as you have your health you can make progress ^^ I’ll shut up now… hehe

  5. I don’t think you will ever forget about Korea after the break-up but as you live in a western country then I assume you won’t meet a lot of koreans thus it might be difficult to be reinforced in the korean culture. On the other hand, as a korean(not adopted) who was born in an european country I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about Korea myself XD. I actually know more about the western culture although I am kind of clueless in that part as well. When it comes to the break-up I also know about the sadness and how much it hurts, it happened to me last year. In retrospect, I think it was best decision since I didn’t have time for a relationship. Actually I think I was obsessed of not being alone and it was my first relationship ever, but I have not given up on finding my soulmate although I have more important matters at the moment.

  6. A bond not so easily broken!^^ After my ex and I broke up, I was just as devastated, but my love for Korea remained. I am thankful for the things he showed to me and taught me– for opening my eyes to so many beautiful things from himself to his country (Korea, of course) to a love that transcended so many barriers~

  7. Here’s a tip ladies. Stay away from Korean men. Don’t date them. If you’re living outside of Korea then it’s a good idea to asses if his parents are westernized before you get involved. Otherwise you have a very small shot at ever marrying him. Even the statistics on Asian marriages for Asian Americans show a trend. Asian men do not marry outside of their race as often as Asian women. It’s familial pressure. Asian men are under more pressure to marry a fellow Asian by their families than women. That’s the only reason that statisticians can come up with for the disparity. You could get lucky and meet a guy who has more modern thinking parents, or he might be a second son and they don’t care as much, but why set yourself up for disappointment? Don’t tell me love isn’t a choice and that these things just happen. That would mean you’ve been watching to many dramas or that you’re buying into the soul mate lie. We really do make choices about who we decide to open our hearts up to and who we don’t. We just don’t recognize it as such at the time. A non Asian girl dating an Asian guy from a traditional family is a recipe for heartbreak. Don’t tell me he isn’t aware of it either from the very beginning. Most of these guys know exactly what type of woman they are expected to bring home.

    • Actually the reason that Asian male – Western female marriages are rare is due to the racism and prejudices that Asian males face, not the other way around.

      Maybe love is a choice, but that choice surely shouldn’t be based on person’s nationality.

      • I lived in Korea for several years. This is a bit true however, culture has a lot to do with it. I’ve known some to be disowned because they dated someone other than Korean. Its warming up a bit but still fairer skin is easily acceptable (a family may be ago if the person has European features and the right tone). Of course not every family is like this but as a general rule of thumb-this is the case. I did not hang much in expat scene but with Koreans and in different cities. I love Korean culture but I am also very honest about it as well.

        • You are perfectly correct. Of course, in every culture there are parents who don’t want their children to “mix”.

          I luckily didn’t face any such issues. His family and friends were all very welcoming and threated me wonderfully.

    • I’m sorry but, could you maybe explain your point? Why do you feel the need to share these thoughts here, when you don’t know at all anything about their relationship? Have you read the reason why they broke up? If so, why are you giving such useless tips?

      We all know abt that pressure on Asian men and women (this is something not only Korean ppl face btw) and I truly feel sorry for these ppl. Sorry that they don’t have the courage to be themselves.

      Have you been in such a relationship to write such a bitter post and couldn’t marry? If so, I’m truly sorry for you.

      Btw, why are those guys who know >exactly<, better than the western (or whatever) person, that they won’t end up marrying even beginning a relationship in the first place. Shouldn’t they be the ones avoiding this situation?! (And I am not talking about Kimchi Man! Just to be very clear!)

      This is my tip for you, human being: There is no need to be rude to someone who is currently hurt or actually, there is no need to be rude at all. Maybe your intentions are good, but well, it does not sound like it at all.
      Also, why are you even on this page? I don't get it. If you don’t like/want/whatever reading that she feels hurt – well, you surely know how to close this page.

      • My post was not intended to be rude and I have no knowledge as to why she broke up. However, just because she is unhappy right now and everyone wants to comfort her does not mean that is always the best thing to do for someone. I’m an older woman and I believe in being forthright with other women especially precious younger women who have less experience than I do.

        Women are always taking a risk when they get involved with any man. Perhaps it hasn’t escaped your notice that the biggest danger to women world wide is not cancer or even heart disease it’s men. So, I’m not talking about serial killers here but the same caution should apply when you decide to become romantically involved with any man. Surely if it’s never happened to you at least someone you know has had their lives upended by a bad breakup. Often times these situations could have been avoided if the woman had been more cautious.

        If she had seen things clearly instead of through the filter of wishful thinking. Women are always in eminent danger of thinking that love or compromise or some other kind of magic thinking will overcome whatever romantic obstacle they face. Many of them are in danger of thinking they can change someone for the better if they just love them enough or support them enough only to fail later and feel guilty or inadequate because they couldn’t. I would just like to see women make better choices to start out instead of having to go through heartbreak because we’ve been conditioned to believe that love is something that can overcome anything. I know it sounds cynical and it is, but a little cynicism can protect you from a lot of heartbreak later.

        • I really disliked your prejudice about Koreans, but I dislike just as much your prejudice about men and women.

          I am not afraid of men, and I will never be. I am afraid of bad people, but I will make my own decision who they are, once I get to know them.

          I actually agree with all your premises. We shouldn’t expect to change people during a relationship, and people are often blinded by love. But your conclusions are completely off the mark. This all has nothing to do with being Korean or being male. It happens in every nation and to people of any gender.

          I was not lost in wishful thinking. I knew exactly what I wanted, and that’s what I got. When I didn’t want it any more I walked away. I am a more fulfilled and complete person for that, even if there has been some heartache along the way. Do you think it’s even possible (or even worth) to live without ever experiencing heartache? What kind of sad existence is that?

          And why do you expect every woman to want marriage? I don’t. I never did. It was actually Kimchi Man who wanted to marry far more than I did. And his parents were fine with that.

          I will make something very clear here: I do not regret a second of my relationship with Kimchi Man. And Kimchi Man has never done anything that would make me regret it. Even now, he treats me with kindness and respect and for that, he has my respect.

          Just because our relationship didn’t work out, doesn’t make him a waste of my time.

  8. When people break up, some times there are special places that you avoid because you went there with the person and the memories are strong. Sadly. for you the memories are tied to an entire country. The recipe for breaking this pattern is to make new memories in that place. I believe they call this desecrating the sacred place. In my own experience, it has helped. Dragging a friend to eat in the “our” favorite restaurant eliminated the painful feelings I felt whenever I saw the restaurant.

    On the other hand, with one break up I didn’t make new associations with the turnpike I drove to visit him, and ten years later I still get bad feelings and avoid driving that highway. It’s illogical to avoid something because of memories, but who says humans are always rational beings?

    I hope all things Korean won’t become something painful you avoid. Try making new memories if you can, just to break the cycle of associating pain with a place.

    I am sending you lovingkindness thoughts. It will take time to heal, be good to yourself, the pain you are feeling now will ease.

    • You make a good point.

      But there is another issue for me, besides the one that memories are painful, and that is: without him, do I have anything to draw me to Korea? Why couldn’t another country captivate me now?

      • Why always eat the same meal when there is a buffet of choices? Sure, you should continue to get to know other countries and the warm, wonderful people who inhabit them.

        Once you’ve opened your eyes to a larger world out there, the possibilities are endless. Here in Berkshire county Massachusetts, I meet people who have never left USA once. They don’t know what they are missing!

        • Haha, I think I am the last person who can be accused of “always eating the same meal”, as my romantic interests have spanned several continents in my short life.

  9. I experienced the same things before, once a Korean break my heart, I was thinking should I cut all the line with South Korea? Includes Korean, their culture, drama, music, foods, places and etc?? At that time I was thinking should I just burn the flight ticket I’ve purchased earlier, since I’m no longer in relationship with him?? I keep thinking about it over and over again, until at one point I made up my mind! Why should I burn the flight ticket?? He break my heart but when I look back at what he’s done to me, makes me a better person! I should thankful to him. Yes he break my heart, but why would I cut all ties with South Korea?? There are million Korean out there! After that, I try to make Korean friends through Interpal and until now there are few Korean friends from interpal were very closed to me! (I met them while I’m in Korea) They advice me a lot and since I have a blog about Korea, they were actively contributing the facts whenever I ask! Been few months until it’s time for me to re-visited Korea again, on my mind there are so many things!This time I am going alone, not like what I’ve been through a year before. I am worry, sad everything in between. However with a courage and help from all my Korean friends, I manage to enjoyed my visit! Even I went to the same places there is no regret or feeling sad about it! I really had a good time there and who knows I’ve found a new lover?! It was unexpected! After the broke up I told myself not to fall in love with Korean anymore but even it was so hard to deny my own feeling finally I’m in love again! Guess what, with another Korean! LOL! Dear Oegukeen, lets time heal you!! Be Strong! ^^

  10. Pingback: Saluting Other Blogs by Non-Asian Women Who Love Asian Men | Speaking of China

  11. I am in the same situation as u are right now. I have met and fall in love with a korean lady. But sadly we broke apart six months ago. I am slowly trying to pick up the pieces of my life and i have also visited South Korea, it has helped me a lot in the recovery process as it made me understand her culture more. Hope u do visit their country in the future.

  12. Me and my Tteokbokki man broke up. Cos it seems like he’s been so distant to me after we fought about my bank account. How was that I didnt even ask a single penny from him. But he dare to check my account. But I still let it pass maybe we can still fix it. But what he said “we’re still in a relationship if you come to Korea”. Thats the point I knew he does’t love me anymore. :'(

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