Nine Wedding Traditions Of A North Korean Wedding
Since North and South Korea were once one country, much of their social and cultural backgrounds are one in the same. However, after the war had caused them to split into two countries, some of the thought process and developments have since changed. Despite the South’s government demanding the cut backs on excessive spending on weddings, the North stayed with their wedding traditions and kept them lavish.
Ultimately the North joined in on the cutback due to their viewpoint of the symbolism of the lavish affair, going as far as comparing it to what was considered bad in the world, namely the “western” way. In the 1980’s, sanctions eased up some, thus allowing weddings to be a little more lavish, but not to what it once was.
Here are nine other wedding traditions of a North Korean wedding you may find interesting:
1. Most marriages in North Korea are based on love; however in the event that either of the parents disapprove, the couple will obey them and break up.
2. North Korea is building towards a more socialistic way of life; therefore the age for those to marry is later. The ideal age for a man to marry is from 28 to 30, while the ideal age for a woman is from 25 to 28.
3. Keeping with Korean tradition, a marriage that takes place between the groom and the bride, who share the same family background, was forbidden. From the time of the Yi Dynasty, Koreans were held accountable to record their family history. If two people were to have the same ancestral name, then they would be considered related, such as sister and brother, and thus being together would be considered as incest. However, North Korea has since abandoned that law and now allows for two members of the same family to marry, with the stipulation that they are not directly related.
4. One of top considerations for marriage in North Korea is how the class origins of family are compatible. Society would not approve a marital bond between husband and wife if, for example, one is a member of a higher ranking family amongst society, while the other is not at their level. With so much political on-goings in modern North Korea postwar, they are very careful of native North Koreans marrying those from the North that had left the country. Therefore it would not be unusual to marry within their own families.
5. With weddings being expensive, the tradition is for the bride’s family to supply the household goods and furniture, such as the “seven devices.” For the better off families, these devices include: refrigerator, television set, washing machine, camera, tape recorder and sewing machine. For families that are not as well off, you would expect to see blankets, a wooden blanket case and many kitchen utensils. For those living the more inward parts of the country, blankets are seen as essential for their comfort as well as for decoration. The groom’s side oversees the accommodations.
6. With North Korea’s up and down economy over the past decades, a wedding was seen as just cause to apply for additional rations of food, with liquor and rice being the most requested. After the allowance of better weddings in the 1980’s, the government cut back again in the 1990’s and thus rationalizing began once again. For example, rice for weddings was limited to 5 kg’s.
7. Guests that are invited to the ceremony are expected to give a monetary gift. Guests usually pay approximately 10-15 percent of their average month’s income. However, those that are family or close friends give much more.
8. In most cases, weddings in North Korea are low key. Often it is just a small ceremony where the new couple only invites family, neighbors and maybe close friends to witness the ceremony and the registration of the their marriage. There is no wedding reception and there is no honeymoon.
9. Tradition has it that when a couple marries they are given a house, or an apartment depending on where they live. In the event the couple is from high ranking families, they will get special treatment when searching for their new home, whereas other couples will have to wait for authorities to approve their application for housing. Generally in North Korea, the domestic household is a nuclear family, where the aging parents live with a sibling. Large families often do not live together due to the size of the housing as they are rather small in size throughout the country.