Monday, December 08, 2008

Inviting myself to the wedding of my friend's cousin ranks up there as one of the most audacious things I have ever done. I showed up there with a friend as the only foreigner in a sea of hundreds of Koreans. The women wore hanboks, traditional Korean clothing, and the men wore yangboks, traditional Western clothing. The crowding and overwhelming secularism in Korea made for a genuine spectacle. This is so without mentioning that the wedding was held at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, concurrent with a highly-anticipated soccer game between the Suwon Blue Wings and Seoul FC.

Four weddings happened in the time I was there, each taking a little less than an hour. Each wedding has the same decorations and as you leave the hall with your new spouse, you'll see the next wedding party filing into the hall. Given that half of all Koreans have no religion, a favourite university professor or your boss will marry you. The food after, if the wedding I went to was any indication, will feature roughly 100 items on the menu, mostly Korean food, but without any chopsticks.

I have never felt so self-conscious as I did at this wedding. If this was a joke, no one missed a beat. The couple thanked us for coming, my friend said it was an honour for him to have me there, and the photographer even asked us to pose for a picture with the others. Wearing a dress shirt over a turtleneck and wearing a tuque indoors, he ensured that when they look back at their wedding pictures years later, and their grandchildren do the same, they will see two foreigners they didn't know and only invited because his cousin asked. I guess it's all about making your wedding day as memorable as possible.

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