The following shall constitute an Agreement, entered between Partner (hereinafter “you” and “your”) and the Cho family (hereinafter “Jacob,” “I,” “me,” “umma,” “appa,” “my parents,” “they,” and “them”). This Agreement is a binding contract between you and me regarding your potential visit to my parents’ place. Despite this being a first encounter, you will immediately be evaluated and assessed upon arrival as a marriage prospect. The following Terms & Conditions to be agreed upon, presented below as a list of directives, are as follows:
1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS
- Wear your best flats, dress shoes, heels. They should be presentable, meaning they should be without any traces of dirt nor bring any dirt into umma’s home. Likewise, if you’re wearing socks make sure they don’t have holes in them and aren’t mismatched or inside out. If you can’t even keep a pair of socks together, how can my parents trust you with a marriage?
- Always remain within their line of vision. You are a thief until proven polite and friendly. No one likes a snoop. We will sit patiently on the couch. Umma will bring out a plate of freshly peeled pears as an appetizer, and you will have to help me eat them all.
- It is advised that you learn some basic Korean. This shall include greetings, thank you’s, and phrases such as “I shall eat very well.” If Bruce Cumings (and…, and…, and…) can write history books about Korea, Adam Johnson can write about North Korea, or Deborah Smith can translate novels into English, perchance this will not be too much to ask of you. Remember: the fact that they have to speak English with you is already a negative on their part and yours.
2. CONVERSATION MATTERS
- Do not speak to my parents in such a way that you mirror their short staccato sentences, so you will speak to them the way you would speak to any English speaker. When in doubt, nod your head constantly whenever they talk.
- If the topic of what you like about Korean culture comes up, this is a trick question. What they are really asking is “why would someone who isn’t Korean date a Korean person?” You will have to suppress your Koreaboo impulses to talk about K-pop, skincare, K-dramas, and Park Chan-wook films. The safest and most appropriate response would be “the food.” You will impress them if you name an actual dish rather than “BBQ.”
- You must nod your head and take any unsolicited advice from either of my parents with the enthusiasm of Moses and his tablets, especially as they pertain to health, nutrition, sleep, fans, death, aspirations, and money.
- When they talk Korean to me at length and their bright helium tones of voice morph back to deeper ones, it’s safe to assume they are talking shit about you. For some reason, if you’re white they will always refer to you by name, otherwise you’re “ilbon,” the Japanese one, or Jacob’s yuhjah chingoo, the girlfriend.
- Be advised that if you don’t know how to use chopsticks, metal chopsticks will surely present themselves as an Olympic challenge to the uncultured fork user. Requesting a fork would be just as bad as asking permission to eat with your hands.
- Do not ask anyone to pass the ________ because, as the above suggests, you should possess the basic skills necessary to carry any morsel of food to your own plate without dropping a single thing, even a sesame seed or flake of gochugaru. God forbid you leave a red speck stain on the tablecloth — which, like the aim of a sniper rifle, would suggest your life has been compromised.
- Every single banchan on the table is to be eaten along with every portion that is handed to you directly. No one likes a picky eater. Let nothing on your plate go to waste. No one likes an ungrateful eater either. My parents will marvel at how much you enjoy their food, however, they will perhaps think you’re enjoying it a little too much, which will lead them to fear that you and I don’t eat well because you don’t know how to cook.
- It would be unwise to ask for more rice because 1) rice is a filler meant to compliment both side and main dishes as their vehicles and 2) only greedy people eat too much rice. Only if they offer more should you accept, and likewise not a speck shall go to waste. Umma didn’t wash the grains fifty times and prevent any from falling into the sink in order for you to be so neglectful.
- Some dishes will be spicy. If you cringe or fan your face, this will give them reason to laugh at you. Pace yourself since water will make you full. Refer to under MANNERS. The Britta filter can only work so much overtime before umma will complain about replacing it and ask me to do the same of you.
4. CONCLUDING DINNER
- You will begin stacking everyone’s plates and offer to do the dishes. Even if umma takes you down and traps you in a leg lock, you must break out of the hold and head to the kitchen. Dinner could have gone fine up until this point. If umma ends up washing the dishes, it signals that you have lost dearly.
- Through various stages of washing, umma will bump into your hips and tell you that’s enough, let her take over. Don’t even let her wash a single thing, especially not the fork you may have requested. It would be best to tag me in if I have not joined you already. The domestic image of us together in the kitchen will warm her soul faster than the kettle she’ll be waiting on to make us tea. However, you best believe she’s going to pull out her loupe and inspect every single plate and utensil later: an unclean plate is as bad as a fake diamond.
- If umma offers you food to take home, you must promptly finish said food, wash the Tupperware, and return them to me within three to five business days. Any later than that timeframe would reinforce my parents’ suspicion that you are an actual thief and not just someone who has been taking me away from them and perhaps will do so for good. If in the event that umma offers you a container of kimchi, from her very own soon-to-be-perfectly fermented stash, breathe a sigh of relief and turn to the cameras for your photo-op: this is winning gold as far as gestures go.
- If I have in the past, it has always been as a friend. I’ve never brought a man I’ve called Partner home. “Jacob’s namja-chingoo” has never been a referent. To my parents it wouldn’t be possible. Appa will tell me that I’ve given up on women while insisting I can always find a Korean wife. Umma will be in disbelief because she’s been looking for a future mother to her grandchildren and a mothering wife to her husband she can boss around.
- They may not even let us in the house. Dinner may be silent.
- They may never speak to me again.
- I want you to know: this is not a fault of yours. It is their own.
- In the event of any of these EXEMPTIONS, all the above Terms & Conditions may not apply.
6. EXEMPTIONS’ EXEMPTIONS
- For all intents and purposes, the above Terms & Conditions (1-5) may still apply.
Partner recognizes that, in accepting these Terms & Conditions for “Meeting My Korean Parents…” they have also been informed about how my parents have received an Agreement detailing Terms & Conditions for “Not Being Too Korean When Meeting My Partner.” All preceding and subsequent contracts will be added to the master contract, “Dating a Korean Man,” which provides useful details pertaining to how Partner may negotiate instances of pride, confidence, emotional unavailability, silence, anger, substance abuse, and violence as it pertains to the verbal, physical, and emotional, as well as a section on hobbies and careers: how to deal with gamers, businessmen, medical professionals, scientists, artists, and writers.
Unfortunately, the only physical copy of this master contract has been lost, while the digital file has been corrupted and is therefore no longer accessible. This means the master contract will have to be negotiated and instigated verbally on the Partner’s end.
By clicking the “I Agree” button you acknowledge that you have read and accepted the terms of the above agreement, and will remain in a relationship with me for another period of one (1) year from the actual day of meeting my parents.