Marriage: the Right WayKorean traditional marriage
Jeon Myung Assisstant Reporter  |
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승인 2005.09.01  00:00:00
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리

TRADITIONAL KOREAN weddings are a microcosm of Korean culture. They contain traditional music, dance, costumes, and etiquettes: when Samulnori (traditional farmers?feast music) is performed, guests dance to celebrate the wedding. Then a bride wearing Hwal-ot and a groom in Danryung appear and the wedding proceeds with an official's Chang (a traditional narrative song) following specific procedures.
What we consider as a traditional Korean wedding today is Chinyoung. As the last step of Sarye (the Chinese four procedures of marriage), it was adopted during the Koryo Dynasty and generalized during Joseon Dynasty. Though Korea followed the form of Chinese weddings, it transformed them to fit its culture. With its own wedding procedure developed, Korean Chinyoung is truly distinctive when compared to that of China.
Chinyoung basically includes three steps: Jeonanrye, Kyobaerye, and Hapkuenrye. When mothers of a couple light candles, Jeonanrye follows and the groom put a wooden wild goose on a table. Since the wild goose is known not to mate again with a different partner, it represents fidelity in Korea. Then Kyobaerye follows and the couple bows to each other to promise that they will live happily together. During Hapkuenrye, they drink wine in the halves of a gourd and then the halves are bound together with threads to signify the unity of the two. Last, people release a chicken to show that the couple is not under their parents' roof anymore and ready to make a family.
Though Joseon Dynasty was a male-dominated society under Confucianism, formalities of a family were based on respect for women's role and the same went for Chinyoung. "While Chinese traditional weddings were held at the groom's house, Chinyoung was held at the bride's," said pres. Yoo Han-kwon of the Institute of Korean Wedding Culture. Different etiquette between a bride and a groom is rather for balancing the Uem and Yang (the positive and negative energy based on principles of Chinese philosophy): during Jeonanrye, a bride bows once more than a groom to make up for a deficiency of Uem and during Kyobaerye, she puts her hands under the table while the groom puts his above it.
Today, Chinyoung is held more than 140 times a year at Korean House, but it has rather degenerated to an event, focusing more on visual appeal. "To keep pace with the times, terms used in Chinyoung such as Jeonanrye should be given modern names through explanations of the procedures for authentic succession. In addition, as the number of international couples who hold it increases, explaining the terms in English is also required," said Yoo.
Han Yu Chi, who married a Japanese woman at Korean House said he and his bride decided to hold a traditional wedding in Korea accepting his family and friends' advice. "It's good to learn the tradition and have an opportunity to have my family and friends in my homeland," he added. Not only to international couples, but to Korean couples, Chinyoung shall be a meaningful way to cherish their new start recalling the meaning of marriage that has been passed down for more than 200 years.

※ Special Thanks to Han Yu Chi and Mikami Megumi. 
       The Yonsei Annals congratulates your marriage.

Mini Quiz
Q: At the end of the modern wedding, guests throw confetti towards the couple to offer congratulation. Then what would guests of a traditional wedding do at the end of the ceremony? A: They throw red beans. Since Koreans believe that red beans ward off the devil, they throw them to wish a happy life.

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