When people fall in love and want to see where things go, sometimes they move in with each other. But what happens when a Korean-Japanese couple lives in the same house?
To get an idea of how things might go, we spoke with Ji-yeon, a Korean national, who started dating Hiroshi, a Japanese man, a while ago. We heard both of their opinions on their relationship and what surprised them both about living together. So let's have a look at what they both said below! (The following are the opinions of the two respondents.)
Man who needs to soak in the bathtub every day VS Woman who is pleased with just a shower
Japanese boyfriend doesn't seem to take showers, but prefers a soak instead. What's going on?
“I prefer taking showers. Even if I sweat a bit, especially in summer, I'll take a shower right away. My boyfriend comes home after work and soaks in the bathtub every day. I know that Japanese people like being in the bath, but it's amazing to see him hopping in the tub literally every day (laughs). I guess it's a bit of a difference. There are so many homes in Korea without a bathtub - just a shower seems to suffice." (Ji-yeon / Korean female / 30 / Office worker)
“My girlfriend doesn't seem to enjoy hot things, so maybe that's why she doesn't like relaxing in a nice hot bath. Instead, she really enjoys the shower - sometimes even three or four times a day (laughs)! Since I tend to get home late after work, I thought it was inconvenient at first because there was no water in the bathtub. Now I put the water in myself and enjoy a little peaceful alone time (laughs).” (Hiroshi / Male Japanese / 30 / Office worker)
Soaking in a bath is a culture and custom for Japanese people. When living with others, it's customary for the person who gets up first to draw the bath; after taking a shower, Japanese will often then soak and keep the bathwater for the next person. In the eyes of a Korean girlfriend who's accustomed to showering as opposed to the bath, it might seem a little different to have a soak every day instead.
This is mine VS Where is yours?
The next curious difference revolves around how personal belongings are considered in the relationship - what belongs to whom.
“When I eat, I don't really mind using different plates, even if everything doesn't coordinate, but my boyfriend seems to get agitated about this (laughs). Not only this. One day I'm watching YouTube on my boyfriend's tablet, and he asks whether I asked him to touch his personal belongings. Is it fine if I eat another ice cream in the fridge? I bought it with my money - should we share or just let it be mine." (Ji-yeon / Korean female / 30 / Office worker)
“No matter how much you share life together, I feel that you have your own stuff. I don't say I'm going to write my name on everything that's mine, but when I'd like to use something that's hers, I at least ask about it first. Now I feel like I'm nagging or something though (laughs). ” (Hiroshi / Male Japanese / 30 / Office worker)
Even among couples living together, the concept of each person having their own things exists. Even if you have a caring and understanding mind, things like this are going to be a big problem unless you talk about it together.
Let's split living expenses VS But you earn a bit more
How to deal with money is a big issue in any relationship, but how does an international couple face it?
“When we were dating before we lived together, we totally went Dutch. Since we started living together, I began sharing half of the living costs. Of course, I think I have to pay half and him the other half, but sometimes my boyfriend who has a much better income than me sometimes pays a little more. When we go grocery shopping, one of us tends to pay and the other pays back half later on. The house I live in now also reflects my boyfriend's opinion a little more, so the rent is a bit expensive." (Ji-yeon / Korean female / 30 / Office worker)
“Since we started dating, we each agreed to pay half of the cost. I thought it was neat and nice to each other. But sometimes my girlfriend seemed to get sad or disappointed. We're not married yet. When I get married, as a family head, I'll have to pay a lot (laughs).” (Hiroshi / Male Japanese / 30 / Office worker)
This approach may not be incredibly different from Japanese couples living together. Looking at the Korean-Japanese couples around me who are still married, it seems that the men (be them Korean or Japanese) are actually paying a large part of their living expenses - but it is not a value judgment. It's a promise among the people within the relationship.
Intuitive Woman VS Persevering Man
What about feelings? It seems it's our Japanese boyfriend who sometimes gets hurt by his Korean girlfriend's straightforward tone.
“I tend to be frank and direct without worrying over the best way to say something. That's why my boyfriend knows what I'm thinking about, and it's a chance to understand each other. But compared to me, I feel he doesn't talk particularly well. Sometimes I don't know if I like it or not.” (Ji-yeon / Korean female / 30 / Office worker)
“Of course I like being considerate of my girlfriend, but sometimes I'm embarrassed or hurt because she says something so frankly. One example, for her birthday I gave her a purse and flowers. She said thank you, but then she said not to get her flowers in future because they cost unnecessary money. It's nice to be honest, but I feel like she didn't like my present and we didn't have to talk about flowers. It's in ways like this that sometimes she hurts my feelings.”
When I heard this, I wondered whether it was cultural or whether language fluency also played a part as well. But as a Japanese, I suppose we do tend not to be as direct as we could be in many situations. At any rate, I feel it's important that people in the relationship understand how to balance opinions and communication.
Housework is a man's chore VS Doing household work together
Household chores can be another source of tension, especially if roles and expectations haven't clearly been assigned. So how does our couple share daily work?
“I often work late and come back late. Even though I don't have heaps of time at home, my girlfriend makes me do a lot of housework. Of course, because we live together, I feel it's natural to share our household chores, but sometimes I feel a bit put off. Sometimes I feel that as my girlfriend has more free time than me, that it would be great for her to give housework a little more of her time too.” (Hiroshi / Male Japanese / 30 / Office worker)
“As I started cleaning our apartment, laundry and so on, my boyfriend helps me with the housework. One thing I don't understand is, Japanese men take no initiative and seem to have a role already established in their mind. In this way, a man and a woman can get a little annoyed with each other. When I don't like feeling that just because I'm a woman, I'm washing dishes and doing everything.” (Ji-yeon / Korean female / 30 / Office worker)
As times have changed, it's much more common for men and women to share chores and other work around the home. I cannot say that we live in a world in which men and women are treated equally though. Even if a single-income family, it's important to share duties around the home and discuss what expectations are.
So far, we have heard how a Korean woman and Japanese man have lived together. Even families living together don't know each other's ideas, and sometimes there are disputes and disagreements. It must be challenging for two people from different countries, environments and cultures to meet and live together in the same house. Perhaps love becomes stronger if we could learn each other's strengths and consider each other's differences?
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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