Family life in Korea is unique. Marriage immigrants who understand the characteristics of Korean families can more easily adjust to their new families and understand the culture of Korea. Family culture can vary by family and by region, but Korean culture is largely based on Confucianism. The family culture of Korea has some similarities to that of other Confucian-influenced countries, but has diverted from its traditional roots through the course of rapid industrialization.
Through marriage, individuals with different family relationships, lifestyles, and thoughts become one family. Therefore, it is very important to adjust the differences in ideas about family life in the beginning of the marriage. Be aware that the differences in thoughts may be bigger in international marriages where two people from different cultural backgrounds meet. If you are experiencing difficulties with your spouse because of these differences, keep the following in mind.
Unlike other countries, you can call or address someone with different titles and designations other than their names in Korea. On top of that, Korean names and names in Chinese characters are often mixed and used as titles and designations. Thus, the use of an incorrect appellation or designation could offend others. 'Hoching(appellation)' is what you use to call someone directly and 'Chingho(designation)' is used when referring a third person to the person you are speaking to. Combined, they are called 'Chingho(designation)'.
In Korea, family members address each other using specific titles that signify their relationship to one another.. The family trees below detail some of the different names used to address the husband's and wife's family members. Honorific language is used for seniors, and regular language is used for younger family members. Names and titles may vary slightly depending on family and generations, so it is always best to ask when in doubt
In Korea, there are slight differences in language style depending on the difference in age, relation, and social status of the speaker and the listener. These differences can be broadly described as two speaking styles: honorific and casual
In family life, there are many significant events that take place, such as births, marriages, or deaths of family members or friends. These are important to both the individual and the family, and it is important to spend time together as a family on these occasions.
Both traditional and modern weddings take place in Korea, but these days traditional weddings are disappearing in favor of more modern weddings. Modern weddings are performed at wedding halls, hotels, churches, and temples. During the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom wears a tuxedo, and the bride wears a dress. Even after a modern ceremony, the official greeting to parents and relatives is sometimes done in traditional way. This is called ‘pyeback.’ Over the past 10 years, the average marriage ages (first marriages) for both men and women have steadily increased (according to the National Statistical Office).
At funerals, the family of the deceased prepares clothes of mourning and the deceased is dressed in special garments as well. Typically, the garments for the deceased are prepared in advance for the elderly while they are still alive. These garments differ by household and region. In some cases, the deceased is dressed in hemp clothes, in black or white. Guests attending a munsang* should avoid wearing bright colors, and dress in black or white. During munsang, it is important to pay your respects and pray together with the family. Money is also offered to the family as a means of showing condolences.
A ritual ceremony to honor the memory of departed parents is held on the anniversary day or the night before. It may be done in different ways. The participants dress plainly and honor the memory of the deceased. It may be different depending on family culture, religion, etc
|Form||Death Memorial Service||Family Memorial Service|
|Order||Three cups of wine and a memorial address||One cup of wine|
|Time||Night of the anniversary of the death||Morning of the festival|
|Clothing||Plain clothes||Fancy clothes are okay|
|Food||Rice, soup, etc.||Festival food|
|Other||Candles are lit||No candles|
Eodongyukseo (魚東肉西): Fishes are placed on the east side, and meats are placed on the west side
Dudongmiseo (頭東尾西): Heads of fishes are placed on the east side, and tails of fishes are on the west side.
Jwapouhye (左脯右醯): Jerky is place on the left end, and sikhye is placed on the right end
Joyulisi (棗栗梨枾): Jujube, chestnuts, pears and dried persimmon are placed from the left side
Hongdongbaekseo (紅東白西): Red fruits are placed on the East side, and white fruits are placed on the west side
Please note that information contained within this publication is current as of April 2019; information is subject to change without notice.