Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Korean Wedding

On Saturday, the foreign teachers from our school were invited to the wedding of a man who works for Avalon, Matt's school. Neither of us really know him and have never seen his wife before the wedding, but we were invited and took it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a Korean wedding. I was kind of hoping I'd get a chance to go to one while I'm in Korea. I'd heard what they are like (fast-paced, impersonal, cookie cutter princess-like), but nothing really prepared me for the real thing. It was interesting to say the least. 

The wedding took place at the "Jeonju World Cup Convention Wedding Center". All of these words apply to this place and none of them would a westerner really want to associate with their own wedding. It was in a convention center for weddings underneath a World Cup soccer stadium. There were 6-8 halls for weddings, each having a different wedding every hour. Bam, Bam, Bam- three wedding in three hours in one large room. You are milling about in the lobby with guests, brides, and grooms from various other weddings. 

Before the wedding, the bride just sits in this room for photos. We were lucky to get a photo opportunity with her even though we'd never met before. It was a little like a holding room for brides. Also, I'm really short when I stand next to Justin and Caitlin. 

Finally, it was our wedding's time (strictly from 1:30-2:30). Their guests milled in and filled the seats and lined the walls. I doubt many of the guest knew each other. The guest list is not a personal affair. You're expected to invite most co-workers and anyone you know (hence my invitation).  The groom had been in the military (as basically all Korean men have, but I think he was a lieutenant), so he had a military welcome down the aisle. All the flowers are fake and the candles are gas lit. In the above shot, you can see the liquor store-like security camera shot broadcasting the wedding on the wall to the left. When you walk in the front door of the convention hall, you can watch all the weddings happening on eight screens. 

The guests came in all kinds of attire, from jeans to traditional Hanboks. People didn't seem to think much of taking a cell phone call mid-ceremony or having a nap (see the gentleman in the right back). 

In your wedding package, you can have a stock wedding hall singer sing you a love song. I'm pretty sure this guy sings this song eight times a day. Also, note the dramatic fog machine. Artificial fog was dispersed several times for a dream-like fairy tale effect. 

Foreigner reactions to this warped westernization of a wedding. Matt is open-mouthed, Lisa is W-T-F. 

After the song, there was a drag-n-drop I-Movie-like slide show. The photos weren't even personal! They were all cheesy studio shot in wedding attire. Cue the fog machine. 

After the wedding, you don't even eat with the other guests. You get a meal ticket and head to a buffet hall and dine with the guests of all eight weddings from the center. But hey- free beer and soju!

This was someone's wedding, so I hate to crack on it too much. However, they adopted the format of a western wedding and condensed it into less than an hour and removed the personal or intimate elements. It's pretty Korean to put things in a nice easy package that is suitable for everyone. They put all of their products into nice easy packages that include every thing and a wedding is no different. Koreans travel, shop and eat this manner, so why not a wedding?Maybe, they have a traditional Korean ceremony that is more intimate and they don't invite everyone to.  Anyway, it was captivating to watch with the theme music and fog machine- a theatrical production of a fairy tale, stage lighting included. 

Here are some videos-


Daphne Duke said...

Wow...I never knew Korean weddings were like that. How horrible! Still, sounds interesting to witness.

p.s. i can't believe you only have <3 weeks left!

Julia Meadows said...

I'm definitely going to have a clandestine fog machine at your wedding, set to go off at the most opportune moment....just to remind you of Korea!