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How does marriage work in Korea?


Marriage is a sacred institution in Korea, and it is considered to be the cornerstone of Korean society. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of getting married in Korea. From the traditional practices to the modern-day customs, we will take a closer look at how marriage works in Korea.

Traditional views on marriage

In Korea, marriage has traditionally been viewed as a union between two families, rather than just two individuals. This means that the families of the bride and groom play an important role in the marriage process. They often arrange the marriage and negotiate the terms of the wedding ceremony and financial arrangements.

Choosing a partner

In modern times, Koreans have more freedom to choose their own partners. However, there is still a strong cultural expectation to marry someone from a similar social and economic background. Love marriages are becoming more popular, but arranged marriages are not unheard of.

The engagement process

The engagement period is an important part of the marriage process in Korea. It is seen as a time for the two families to get to know each other better and to negotiate the terms of the marriage. The groom’s family will often present gifts to the bride’s family as a sign of their commitment to the marriage.

The wedding ceremony

The wedding ceremony in Korea is a beautiful and elaborate affair. There are several rituals involved, including the exchange of wedding vows, bowing to parents, and drinking traditional Korean rice wine together. The bride will often wear a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, while the groom will wear a suit or traditional Korean clothing.

Family expectations

In Korea, family is everything, and this is especially true when it comes to marriage. Both the bride and groom are expected to honor their parents and grandparents by taking care of them and respecting their wishes. This can put a lot of pressure on the couple, but it is seen as a necessary part of Korean culture.

Gender roles

Traditional gender roles are still prevalent in Korea, especially when it comes to marriage. Men are expected to be the primary breadwinners and protectors of the family, while women are expected to take care of the home and children. However, these roles are slowly changing as more women enter the workforce and become financially independent.

Marriage and career

In Korea, there is often a trade-off between marriage and career. Women are expected to give up their jobs when they get married and have children, while men are under pressure to work long hours and provide for their families. This can create tension in marriages, especially if one partner feels like they have to sacrifice their career for the sake of the family.


Divorce is becoming more common in Korea, but it is still considered taboo in many circles. There is often a lot of social pressure to stay married, even if the relationship is unhappy or abusive. Women in particular may feel trapped in unhappy marriages because they fear social stigma or financial insecurity.

Changing attitudes towards marriage

As Korea becomes more modern and globalized, attitudes towards marriage are changing. Younger generations are less concerned with traditional gender roles and family expectations, and more focused on finding love and happiness in their relationships. This is leading to a shift away from arranged marriages and towards love marriages.


Marriage is an important part of Korean culture, but it is also evolving with the times. While traditional views on marriage still hold sway in many circles, younger generations are forging their own paths and challenging long-held beliefs about gender roles and family expectations. Whether arranged or love-based, marriage in Korea remains a significant institution that reflects the values and customs of Korean society.

What are the rules for marriage in Korea?

Current laws in South Korea only allow marriage between individuals of opposite sexes, disregarding same-sex unions. Individuals over the age of 18 for males and 16 for females can legally marry with parental or guardian approval.

What is Korean culture for marriage?

In Korean culture, a wedding holds a deeper meaning than just the joining of two individuals. It signifies the unity of two families, and therefore, both sets of parents play an important role in many aspects of the wedding ceremony.

Do Korean wives take their husband’s name?

In Korean culture, names consist of two components: a family name and a given name. As with other cultures, traditionally a child will take their father’s family name. However, unlike many other cultures, Korean women do not adopt their husband’s last name after getting married.

Who pays for what in a Korean wedding?

In Korea, it is tradition for the groom’s family to cover the expenses of the wedding, which may include the venue, food, and additional costs. Meanwhile, the bride’s family is typically responsible for purchasing her wedding dress and other small expenses.

Can woman divorce her husband in Korea?

In Korea, a couple can agree to divorce without involving the court system. This is possible under article 834 of the Civil Act, and allows a spouse who is at fault to request a divorce if their partner agrees to it.

What is the divorce culture in Korea?

In Korea, there is no option for a no-fault divorce unless both parties agree to it. Instead, the divorce process is based on fault, where one party is deemed at fault and the other is considered wronged. This is because the courts believe that an innocent spouse should not be forced into a divorce they do not want.

Wedding industry

The wedding industry in Korea is a thriving business. Many couples spend a significant amount of money on their weddings, with elaborate ceremonies and receptions. There are also many businesses that cater to the wedding industry, such as wedding planners, photographers, and makeup artists.

International marriages

With the rise of globalization, international marriages have become more common in Korea. Many Koreans are marrying foreigners, especially those from neighboring countries such as China and Japan. However, these marriages can also face cultural and linguistic barriers that need to be overcome.

Same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Korea, but there is a growing movement for LGBT rights. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of same-sex couples seeking legal recognition of their marriages. While progress has been slow, there is hope that Korea will eventually legalize same-sex marriage.

Marriage and mental health

Marriage can have a significant impact on mental health in Korea. The pressure to conform to traditional gender roles and family expectations can create stress and anxiety for both partners. In addition, domestic violence is still a significant problem in Korea, which can have serious mental health consequences for victims.

The future of marriage in Korea

The future of marriage in Korea is uncertain. While traditional views on marriage still hold sway in many circles, younger generations are challenging these beliefs and forging their own paths. As Korea becomes more modern and globalized, it is likely that attitudes towards marriage will continue to evolve. Ultimately, the future of marriage in Korea will depend on how the country balances tradition with progress.

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