▲ Myles Horne and Jessie Dishaw tying the marital knot with a traditional Korean ceremony. Photo by Brian Miller
The wedding, the bride and the groom had much in common — all were fun, funny, unique, a little rough around the edges but a genuine pleasure.
A message on Facebook weeks prior announced the event to friends of Myles Horne and Jessie Dishaw (the groom and bride, respectively): “Traditional Korean Wedding between a couple of Waegooks.” For those unfamiliar with the term, waegook means foreign, from the word waegookin, for foreigner.
The wedding was held on Saturday, May 22, at the Hyangyo Confucian school. Despite rain preventing a hoped-for outdoor wedding, the 150 or so guests thoroughly enjoyed the event. Brian Miller, the photographer for the event, said it was one of the best weddings he has ever attended.
In accordance with Korean tradition, the ceremony was held at a Buddhist temple rather than a church, with guests seated on the floor rather than at pews. The wedding party was adorned in decorated hanbok (traditional Korean attire) rather than Western formal attire. No rings were exchanged, although wooden geese were. It is said that the exchange of the geese is important because they represent Korean marital values in two ways: first, a wild goose maintains the same mate for life and second, even in flight they maintain structure and hierarchy, reflected also in Confucian ideals.
The ceremony took less than an hour and was conducted in Korean with English translation. “If you’re going to have a translator,” Dishaw said, “try and get a script in advance. Translation can get difficult if it’s happening on the fly.”
Due to language barriers and unfamiliarity with Korean tradition, there were a few misplaced bows and other minor breaches of decorum that every-body — including the bride and groom — seemed to enjoy. “The mistakes made it more fun for us,” Dishaw said, although both she and Horne added that having a dress rehearsal the day before the wedding might be a good idea for foreigners looking to do something similar.
“Jeju is a big part of our lives,” Horne said, to explain why they chose a Korean-style wedding. “We wanted to do something that would stick with us for our whole lives.” Marriage, for him, meant a “public declaration of our commitment to each other,” he said. Dishaw expressed similar sentiments, and said — tongue in cheek — that the wedding signified “making a choice about the person I’m going to have to put up with for the rest of my life”.
Dishaw, unlike most Korean females, has tattoos on her arms and elsewhere, as well as a unique and uncompromising style of dress. Even her hanbok bore a stamp of her style in the form of a skull and crossbones patch on the skirt. She might not be the first person you would expect to be the creator and host of a Jeju sewing circle (called “stitch ’n’ bitch”) and some, on first meeting her, are surprised to learn that not only is she a certified teacher, but a highly respected one. She is TEFL-certified and was selected by the Jeju Provincial Office of Education to represent all foreign ESL teachers in Jeju at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 2010 Jeju International Cultural Festival. She was also awarded a 2009 Certificate of Merit, given to the top EPIK teachers, edited the current Grade 2 curriculum for the Jeju Provincial Office of Education and is vice-president of the Jeju chapter of KOTESOL (Korea Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). In addition, she is a star player in the Jeju volleyball and Frisbee tournaments.
Horne, who typically sports a Mohawk haircut, throws no less of a monkey-wrench in the machinery of stereotypes. He is one of few English teachers with an engineering degree and plays a significant part in the Jeju expat community, volunteering his time not only for Furey fund, which raises money for the widow and sons of former Jeju teacher Nathan Furey, but is also an air-soft coordinator.
The two are both from Saskatchewan, Canada, but only met on Jeju.
Horne’s proposal was also memorable and shared by many in the local com-munity. During one of the many open-mic festivals that Dishaw organizes, Horne took to the stage, kneeled and proposed with a ring that a mutual friend made while living on Jeju.
The newlyweds live in Jocheon, Jeju, and currently have no plans to leave the island.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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