Sarang He Yo, From South Korea

Love blossomed between Yen and Daesik, even when they were four thousand six hundred kilometers apart.

Yen, a 35 year-old TV producer had always enjoyed having pen-pals since her teenage days. And as technology evolved, her passion for writing letters became emails instead.

That was how she met her now husband, Daesik, 43, a writer who was residing in South Korea, at a pen-pal site.

“It wasn’t anything spectacular, absolutely nothing like all the k-dramas that you’ve watched,” laughed Yen. “It was more like … a seed germinating – gradually and gently.”

Both were avid readers and Yen was intrigued by Daesik’s vast knowledge on philosophy and religions while he was often tickled by her poor sense of humour. They grew closer as they shared similar dreams and views in life.

“Many people are wary of relationships through the internet. I was too, so when things got a bit serious, I rope in my friends and family to make sure that I wasn’t blinded by love,”

Her parents even flew to Korea (on the context of a business trip) and met Daesik after knowing their daughter was dating a foreigner. They felt that it was a good opportunity to just ‘check’ things out while they were there.

Two years after corresponding feverishly through messages and video calls, Yen received Daesik’s proposal via a text message – something that most people would not have done. At that time, he had already been to Singapore to visit her twice and she had gone to visit him in Korea as well.

It was a tough decision for Yen, having to uproot and move to a foreign land. There were many things that she had to give up and it was almost like starting afresh in life.

“I might not have gone if not for my friends and family’s encouragement,” Yen admitted. “I was afraid of having to start all over again, leaving all the familiarity behind,”

She was glad that she made the big step in her life.

In November 2013, the couple held a traditional Korean wedding at a unique venue – a farm owned by the groom’s best friend.he

Located away from the bustling city, the picturesque landscape posed as one of the highlights of the wedding. Surrounded by mountains and forests, the farm had space enough to hold a barbeque buffet for 100 guests or more.

“The budget sat well for us, as we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. I felt bad that my family had to spend on air-tickets and accommodation already so we didn’t want any financial support from our families,”

2013-11-23 18.24.13The couple only spent five thousand of dollars on food and (lots of) alcohol as the location was free. Family members and friends of the couple came to help to decorate the venue with balloons and streamers. The traditional Korean wedding gown and suit were rented at a discount from a friend’s bridal shop.

2013-11-16 23.29.522013-11-23 18.22.36

The traditional Korean ceremony was an eye-opener for both the Singaporeans and the Koreans. Most Koreans no longer carry out the traditional ceremony as they would opt for the modern wedding march instead. So there was much confusion that day as nobody seemed to know the exact procedure of the ceremony. In the end, everyone just gave their part of the advice and the couple heartily went along.

2013-11-16 22.04.50

2013-11-23 18.23.11

First of all, they had to pay their respects with big bows to their parents and parents in turn, would throw red dates for the bride to catch. The more dates she caught meant the more children she would have. Next, the couple would face and bow to each other, symbolizing respect and harmony in the relationship. Then, the fun part came. The groom had to piggyback the bride, meaning that she would be his responsibility for life, while the rest of the people cheered.

2013-11-23 18.23.45

2013-11-16 22.04.37 2013-11-16 23.29.50

Their wedding cake was another highlight which guests had never seen it before. It was made of “tteok”, a Korean rice cake, red dates, green tea powder and various nuts and dried fruit, and a friend’s mother hand-made it the night before for this special day.

2013-11-16 22.05.01 2013-11-16 23.29.58

“Many people envision weddings to be lavish, fairytale-like and extravagant. I was a little worried at first, afraid that people would find this too shabby and unglamourous. But I saw how the guests enjoyed themselves when they came together as one – to help with the decorations, to barbeque the food for one another, I felt warm and happy. Why, the guests could even break the language barrier and made merry with people from another country. And towards the end of the lunch, everybody was friends with each other.”

Yen is currently residing at Jeju island of Korea, together with her husband and their one year old daughter.

“Life is unpredictable. I’ve never imagined myself to be here, with a wonderful husband and a little bundle of joy. Sometimes, we just have to trust our instincts and take a leap of faith.”