From Korea with Love

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My Korean Husband Drinks… Should I Be Bothered?

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The other night, my husband went out with his best buddy and another friend from Busan, whom I haven’t met yet. In Korea, when a husband says he’s going out with his buddies, most likely, it’s not going to be a sport spectacle or an activity that is done when one is sober, it means he’s going out “to drink” with his friends, and “drinking with friends” means “getting drunk”.

My husband is not an alcoholic, and I’m not saying that all Korean men are, but it’s an undeniable truth that majority of Koreans love to drink. In fact, there is a drinking culture in Korea that I have discussed in a previous post, and every foreigner who has been to Korea knows that drinking is something you can’t escape from in this country.

During the first year of our marriage, I couldn’t understand why my husband had to go out to drink almost every week, or sometimes in our house with his father or his brothers. Although he would sometimes take me with him in those late-night drinking sessions, I didn’t like his drinking at all. When he’s drunk, he just sleeps like a baby and never gives me any trouble, but gosh… the snoring! If I’d put him on loud speaker while he snores, our neighbors would think South Korea is being bombed by the North!

I used to nag at him every time he came home late from a company dinner. (Company dinners and business meetings in Korea are usually accompanied with soju.) There was even a time I kicked him out of our bedroom for arriving home late and wasted. My Abonim found him sleeping in the living room and he wasn’t pleased to see his youngest son spread eagle on the cold floor in his underwear looking like a toad ready to be dissected. He was furious that I didn’t care for my drunk husband.  It was explained to me that in Korea, the wife is expected to (always) attend to her husband even when he comes home drunk. (Maybe it was just my father-in-law’s opinion, but according to my Mom, my Abonim was right: it doesn’t make any sense nagging at and kicking your husband out of the bedroom when he’s drunk because he won’t even remember anything. The best way is to talk to him in the morning when he’s sober and you’re not thinking like Hitler.)

What would I do with a mini-screwdriver?

The other night hubby came home late, he was a bit drunk and scared as hell. The moment he walked in and saw me waiting for him by the door, he said, “Sorry, sorry, sorry.”

From the look on his face, I knew that he was waiting for my first attack, but I smiled and said: “Have you had your dinner?” His face lit up, and he took out a small gift that he got from an arcade crane machine. (Yup, he’s 33 and he still plays arcade machines. Ugh, men!)

“You’re not angry?” he asked.

“I’m not.” (I really wasn’t.)

Now if you’re planning to marry a Korean or a man who likes to drink, or if you’re already married to someone who is having an indecent affair with soju, let me tell you a few things I have learned from experience:

  • No matter how many times you tell your husband to stop drinking, he won’t. It would be just like taking away the Kimchi on the table. First, because at work, drinking with colleagues CAN’T be avoided.  Also, on family occasions, when a family member pours him a drink, he has to accept it and drink (even a little). It is rude to refuse the drink. Second, Korean men work harder and longer, and drinking occasionally is their way to relieve stress from work. (South Korea tops the most hardworking countries of the world according to Forbes magazine.) Third, no one likes to be told what to do, especially Korean men. The more you beleaguer your husband about his drinking, the more he’ll drink.
  • If he drinks  a lot, talk to him about it… when he’s NOT DRUNK. Don’t bring it up all the time. Don’t turn it into an argument. Use the power of persuasion, not the power of a nagging wife. Tell him it’s all right with you if he drinks SOMETIMES and RESPONSIBLY, which means that he would still be able to stand, go home safely, wash (to get rid of the smell of alcohol) and head to the bedroom without knocking off anything by accident.
  • Never ever use the word “curfew” or tell him what time you expect him to come home after going out with his friends or attending a company dinner. I noticed that telling my husband: Come home before 1 or Your curfew’s until 12 doesn’t really work… but when I say: What time are you coming home? Please don’t be too late… he doesn’t give me an exact time, but he arrives home earlier, and very seldom does he come late.
  • Tell him NICELY to ALWAYS inform you where he’s going and with whom he’ll be drinking. Though I never had this problem with my husband since we got married (because he would always keep me informed), I am fully aware of the complaints of some fellow housewives in Korea about “not being informed” of their husbands’ whereabouts when they’re out drinking.
  • If he fails to inform you where he is, call him. Don’t rely on a text message. The hoff or restaurant where he is may be too noisy that he won’t be able to hear his phone beep. (Remember how Koreans like to chat non-stop and loudly when they drink? He may be sitting beside someone who has damaged his eardrums for the time being.)
  • It’s okay to call twice or thrice, if the crowing rooster is about to have tonsillitis from its usual wake-up call and hubby’s not home yet… but calling him every now and then is just crazy and annoying according to hubby and his married friends. (I am guilty of this, but now I don’t call him as often as before. I have learned to trust him with his coming-home time. ^^)
  • Don’t kick him out of the bedroom (like I did). Fix him a cup of tea or coffee to sober him up. Let him sleep it off. As long as he doesn’t beat you up, swear at you or make your life a living hell when he’s tipsy, be a good wife.

Now my husband doesn’t drink often. I challenged him to prove to me that he can say NO to a drinking invitation either from a friend or a colleague, and he has done it many times. In fact, when we went out for dinner last night and my Ajubonim (brother-in-law) ordered a bottle of soju, my husband didn’t even have his soju glass filled up. He didn’t even ask me if he could drink. (If he had asked me, I would have given him permission. ^^)

20 thoughts on “My Korean Husband Drinks… Should I Be Bothered?

  1. I remember a few years ago my boyfriend was so drunk he had an affair with me, I had told him to come to my house to eat but I was so scared he would abuse me that I gave in. 😑By morning he was sober and he realized wat he had done and he told me not to tell my parents😢Of course I did as I was told😶Soon 6months I was pregnant😖Soon my mom found out 😣She was furious😈She told his mom everything that had happened. They both decided I was too young at 16 to raise a child and I had to further in my studies to go to colledge, so they chose an abortion😢I was shocked at first but I knew it was for the best😿🐼🐰So that’s wat I did 😭After I cried for 4hours straight but my mom said “Just act like this never happened” I did, and it helped take away the guilt😶But now every time I see a baby playing in the sandbox I think of my child😢Unfortunately me and my boyfriend have been broken up since that incident but we still talk now and then😏Now I am in college and I am studying to be a lawyer😃Thanks so much for the useful information😄Annoying!🎇

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  2. @chrissantosra I was talking with my husband about that. He quit smoking and he stop drinking for a year. I mean not even one drop. But now he is drinking again with friends and colleagues just not to much. We had an arguing and I was really upset and disappointed but he promised me it will not happen again.
    @kimberry4920 I meet my husbands more closer colleagues and he takes me with him sometimes when his meeting them. It’s true that Korean men like to feed their girlfriend/ wife. It’s like showing their care and affection. My husband do same sometimes. He even ask me once why I never feed him once and I was so surprised. It’s just the difference in culture. I read your post and I agree with you. This is not normal. A husband should not act like that. Especially that you are not like Korean woman. In my opinion you should have a serious talk with him. It’s like one side gives and the other side receive. In a relationship it has to be for both sides. I don’t know the things between you two, but if you don’t do anything the thing will not be better and you will be the only one suffering. Don’t fight (things can get out of hands to worse) but put on paper what you want to talk with him and have a low talk with him. Are you sure he doesn’t keep you just to use you? Maybe he has feelings for you but keep them inside or most important, does he know how to behave and act with you? Don’t cry anymore, put your questions on paper and talk with him about all without loosing your temper and try don’t cry to much. They hate when we cry. Wish you all the best.

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  3. i almost cry everyday. he never spends much. (well i never expect TOO MUCH). when we buy grocery he alwaysake a small budget. and spmetimes i’m teasing him that i want him to treat me. then he answer he has no money. and then he bragging about feeding me. actually everyday, i eat same food. meatloaf, sausage, kimch, milk and yogurt only. there is nothing good. i cannot push him to pay more on grocery. sometimes if i have enough money, i treat him. even it cost a lot. i remember his birthday in phil, he doesn’t have extra money but i do. so i surprise him with a birthday party for the two of us. he never think of that. instead he keep in his mind, it’s natural things i have to spend because he feed. i think its also correct. we went abroad, and we both work. i pay my own visa even he earns 3x than me. and sometimes ask me to treat him. i think he is not the right man for me.

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  4. also, some korean husband call there wives once a day when they are at work. but he tell me, everyday he is busy. i curious why? is he hiding something? when he text me, i tell him “i love you” he never reply. but with other messages, he replies. he also tell me i love you only at home. he is not sweet to me infront of people. he always runs away. he just text me always. no calling. he only text if he is on the way home. thats all.

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  5. Hello. I want to ask if your korean husband introduced you to his colleagues? i mean did you ever met them even once? well, i have a bad experience with my husband. i felt like i’m a maid without salary or anything. just he feed me is the most big deal for him. he give me gifts once in a blue moon (though i never expect gifts everytime). we always fight that he cannot introduced me to his colleagues because he might loose his job. i felt sad and think he was ashamed of me. i ask myself why he choose me? some answers in my mind are, maybe i take care of him without any return like other korean wives. or if with me, he cannot spend too big because i’m not demanding. or if he hire maid, he will pay more than the cost of feeding me. lol…. frankly speaking, i never demand anything from him. i just love him. thats all. but i don’t understand that why since we stay in phil, he don’t want me to meet any of his colleagues. he always tell me “don’t get involved in my job”. i don’t want also, but i was very curious that even in his kakaotalk, he cannot put any picture of us. he tell his colleagues he has wife but he don’t want me to met them.

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  6. Hi, Bygo. My husband and I used to argue A LOT about his drinking, but after his surgery, he quit it cold turkey. Sometimes, he sees his father drinking in the house and he is tempted to drink again. I just remind him about the pain he felt prior to the surgery. His illness is alcohol-related. I hope he will keep his word about not drinking anymore. Perhaps you can talk to your husband and make an agreement about how many times in a week/month he can drink.

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  7. I don’t drink alcohol at all. So first year I was very worried when I seen my husband drinking habit. He explain to me about Korean culture. He is good and let me know where he is going and send me message each hour to let me know he is ok, and come home and sleep like a baby. But I still hate the fact that he is drinking. He drinks one bottle of soju a few times in week. Before I was arguing with him, but not anymore. Still so, I will like so much he will drink just sometimes…

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  8. Well said this is somthing to learn us..

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  9. hey i really like your post. I have boyfriend and he is korean and I dont like the drinking culture there. my boyfriend is kinda ill and he could not reject the drinking invitation. he said it was politeness..

    and when he depress, he likes to drink alot! and call me when he drunks.

    could you tell me any tips ?

    this is always be trigger for our fight.. I

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  10. Pingback: Korea’s Drinking Culture « From Korea with Love

  11. Are you married to a Korean, too? Pwede naman natin sila e-train… kkk… ^^

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  12. hi! your comments are nice and soo funny.. i hope i will also experience what you’ve experience with your husband….:) peace po…

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  13. No need to do that… he’s not giving me any trouble naman. ^^

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  14. Hahaha your hubs is still lucky pa nga at hindi mo siya totally pinalayas ng house^_^

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  15. Hi, Withloveshmon. ^^ Heavy drinking is common among Koreans; however, there are those who try to abstain from alcohol once they have their own family or children. =)

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  16. Thanks, Tukusigal. ^^ I’m just lucky to have a husband who listens to me. Koreans and Japanese have a similar drinking culture… from what my Korean-Japanese friend said. I used to do what your mom did to your father. Your father was even luckier because your mother would fix him something to eat. In my case, I “used to” starve him as a form of silent punishment… but then I realized that won’t do our marriage any good. =)

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  17. Ha ha ha! After I kicked my husband out of the bedroom, hindi na din niya inulit. Maganda din ung malaki ang takot nila sa wife, sabi nga ng Mom ko, kunin sa sindak the first time, so they know there can’t be next time. Thanks for sharing your experience, Deym. ^^

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  18. I remember my first years here in Korea when I am still not aware of the “drinking culture” or hoesik in their company. My husband would occasionally comes home around 2-3am and will throw up all over the house. The first and second time I let it pass. But the third time, when he went home totally wasted and his co-workers needed to drag him all the way home, I didnt let him in. I gave his co-worker a 10,000won bill and said. “ I am 8months pregnant and I cant clean up his mess anymore. Go and bring him to a motel.” and of course I slammed the door really hard and his buddies just let him sleep outside the apt. And i really didnt let him in eventhough it was a cold winter night^^ from that day on, he learned his lesson and he never get wasted again because of drinking…

    Oh… And one time he get drunk again, he ended up in the hospital for 2days. Hahaha

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  19. You are awesome..you are training your husband successfully, little by little. My home country, Japan, has a similar drinking culture big time. My father used to drink out until late and would not let my mother know his whereabouts, and he thought that was a masculine thing to do (silly). My mother hated it. That was the age when there were no cell phones. When my father came home late being drunk and a little hungry, my mother would fix late night snack for him, spending a long long time intentionally (to make him suffer). This kind of playing games is not good for marriage😦

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  20. haha your post is soo funny but try – I”m korean (raised in Toronto) and I like social drinking but I always hear of korean culture involving heavy drinking (24hr pojanmachas)! Sounds fun though!

    withloveshmon.wordpress.com

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