I am extremely tired today, but determined to keep my daily commitment, so I’ve decided to post something that I should have posted before, given the approaching wedding and the extent of my blogging about it: Mr. Kim’s and my love story!
Everyone knows love can be a powerful thing, and, indeed, our love story (besides being wonderful to be a part of) actually won us material prizes: Mr. Kim won the chance to propose to me in a very special way, which I suppose I should write about in detail soon too, by writing our love story. He wrote it in Korean, and since then, we’ve posted his Korean version and my own perspective in English, so that our bilingual friends and family can enjoy (and hopefully laugh at the differences in) our stories.
So here’s my version of our love story, pretty much copied from our wedding website, with just a few minor changes. Enjoy!
Mrs. Kim’s Story
Last year in August, I had just gotten a new job and moved to a new neighborhood on the outskirts of Seoul. While I waited for my job to start, I decided to try online dating for the first time, and, wanting to meet people outside the English teacher community, I wrote my profile in Korean. One of the first messages I received on the site said, in Korean: “Wow, you speak Korean well, and you’re charming,” which, fortunately for the sender, sounds somewhat less corny in Korean than it does in English.
This guy and I chatted a bit on the site, and he told me his name was Kim [OOO] [OOO] and that he lived near Hwarangdae Station in Seoul. What a remarkable coincidence–this was my new neighborhood, I said, and I’d just gotten a job at a university nearby! He asked what I enjoyed doing and, when I told him I enjoyed outdoor things–hiking, jogging, riding my bike and drinking beer by the Han river–he said he enjoyed the same things. We made plans to meet up at a new craft beer pub I’d been wanting to check out in Anam-dong on Korea’s Independence Day.
I’d had another date that afternoon, but I arrived first and waited outside Exit 2 of the station as the sky darkened. Before long, a man approached and peered into my face. He was shorter than I had expected. “Are you Sara?” he asked in Korean, pretty much the only language we had used to communicate thus far. Unfortunately, at that time I could write Korean much better than I could speak it, so I stammered as much in English; to my surprise, he spoke English nearly flawlessly.
Ten minutes later, as we sat in the pub, he asked which university I was working at. “Korea Military Academy,” I answered. He stared at me, looking confused, so I started to explain, “Maybe you don’t know it, 육군사관학교, it’s like the Korean version of West Point.” That’s when he interrupted me: “No, I work there too.”
Although neither of us was sure if it was a still date at first after that exchange, as soon-to-be-coworkers, we both put on our best behavior. Within a few hours, we had mutually and tacitly decided it was a date; within two weeks, we had decided to become a couple; and about three months later, we decided to get married.
Of course, when Mr. Kim first told me he wanted to marry me, it wasn’t in such auspicious circumstances: In a sports bar I dislike, on a Sunday afternoon, after several drinks. Actually, I didn’t care; I’m not that romantic, and I was going to marry the most wonderful man in the world. Still, what would we tell our grandkids?
I knew Mr. Kim wanted to propose more formally, and, as spring wore on, I knew something was up. Would he pop the question during our trip to Korea’s East Coast? Was he waiting for May 16, his parents’ anniversary? When he asked me if I had time to go to a palace festival any evening in the first week of May, I did my best to pretend to have no suspicions. He told me he’d gotten a private tour and a photographer, and I asked what I should wear and tried to be nonchalant.
In the end, it turned out that he had won a contest by writing our story, and he proposed to me by reading me a beautiful letter in front of the greenhouse at one of Korea’s palaces while a photographer snapped pictures, a crowd looked on, and I almost cried. It was a really amazing moment, which is why I really can’t describe it, but afterwards we went out for fried chicken and beer, a combination so classic in Korea that it has its own portmanteau.
Of course, he’s still never taken me to the Han River, but I guess I can live with that.