All traditions grow and change as time moves forward. Jeju's traditional wedding ceremony is no exception as it makes way for the modern, Western wedding tradition. While many couples prefer to include some elements of their tradition; they have to deal with many of the modern wedding dilemmas that all couples face. Time is at a premium and couples want something that reflects their own modern views.
Mun Hye-kyeong, owner of Forever Wedding in Shin Jeju, has some idea as to why brides choose a western-style wedding over a traditional one. She finds that brides want a western wedding because they want to feel special and explains that many Korean women feel like the traditional wedding doesn't represent them.
A traditional wedding taking place at Gwandeokjong could not appear more different than the "western -style" wedding which many couples opt for in recent years. Photo by Cat Lever
Traditional ceremony Heo Hee-suk, a teacher at Shin-hung Elementary School, was married in 2004, and had both a modified traditional wedding and a modern western-style wedding. Heo's mother and mother-in-law are Buddhists and wanted elements of the traditional wedding for their children. In addition to the Saju, which is a Chinese method for analyzing a person’s destiny, both women went to a fortune teller to find out the best date for their children's wedding.
Heo held the traditional part of her wedding before the western part and when asked why she chose to have the traditional wedding she said: “I feel that tradition is important and we need to keep it.” She also hopes that more young couples will try to include part of their traditions in their own weddings. She likes the traditional wedding because of the way in which it includes both families and builds the foundation of partnership.
She decided to have the modern western-style wedding to make her friends feel included. As with most western-style weddings she wore white but unlike western weddings she and her betrothed didn’t exchange vows. In Heo's wedding she and her husband-to-be both said “yes” and afterwards he made a small speech declaring his joy. Afterwards, Heo changed from her wedding dress into her han-bok; before meeting her new husband's family.
When meeting her new family the bride will bow and receive envelops of money intended to help set up the couple's new household. Heo's favorite thing about her wedding was that she got to get dressed up and wear beautiful makeup.
A traditional wedding taking place at Gwandeokjong could not appear more different than the "western -style" wedding which many couples opt for in recent years. Photo by Veronica Fortune
Western style For her wedding Lee Yumi did not want a long event. She chose a western-style wedding because most only take 30 minutes. Lee, a teacher at Hallim Elementary School, was married in 2001. She had been engaged for two years before she got married and didn't want to have a three-day ceremony.
Like Heo, Lee's mother and mother-in-law went to a fortune teller, and she changed into the han-bok at the end of her wedding. That was the extent of Korean tradition in her wedding. Like most modern western weddings in Korea, hers was held in a wedding hall. Like Heo, her favorite part was getting dressed up. Lee's younger coworkers Kim Young-mi and Kim Yeo-jeong both said they would prefer the western style wedding. “I don't want a long wedding.” said Young-mi.
All four women said they enjoyed going to traditional weddings as they think of them as a special event; but said that they didn't want the long event for themselves. Heo feels that young couples should keep up the tradition, “I want young people to learn about it, and try to have one.” Hopefully some young couples will be able to do this by combining the traditional and the modern.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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