Teaching in Korea: Marijuana and Sex

I was recently asked a pair of questions: 1) If you come from a part of the US where smoking marijuana is legal, what does that mean for your E2 drug test and 2) are Korean marriages asexual?

I attempt to give the latter a go, but have concrete info on the first.

Do you have a question? Ask me!

The Traditional Korean Wedding

Probably one of the most memorable days in your life is the one in which you were married. I know that when Jo and I tied the knot, every little detail has been engrained into my grey matter for all time. There was so much to do and so much to plan because we were both foreigners in Korea. However, many weddings in Korea occur between a Korean national and a foreigner. Most today opt for the glitzy Las Vegas-style wedding halls, but those interested in Korean culture often opt for a traditional Korean wedding ceremony.

Traditional Korean Wedding

korean wedding

Recently, my friend Jo-Anna and her boyfriend Sanghyun did just that and had their Korean wedding at the Korea House. It was the first time there for a wedding, and I think the facility did a great job. Once guests arrive, a beautiful Korean song is played on traditional instruments to set the mood followed by a short Nongak (farmer’s dance).

The actual wedding ceremony is quiet, marked by various drumbeats and commands issued by the officiant. After receiving the gift of a duck from the groom, the soon to be married couple move to a central area where they wash their hands. They then bow several times to one another and are seated. Attendants prepare food and tea for the couple, the final of which is served in the half of a gourd. The wife’s attendants prepare the gourd and serve it to the groom and vice versa.

How Much Does it Cost?

Coming from the west, it’s common to spend upwards of $10,000 – $20,000 on a wedding. While that certainly can be reached at a wedding hall, The Korea House is surprisingly affordable.

Item Includes Korean Won USD
Basic Package Everything needed 1.2m $1,102
Groom Makeup 50000 $46.04
Bride Makeup 150000 $138.13
Music 900000 $828.77
Total 2.3m $2,115

Several additional options are available and can be viewed at the above link. Buffet reception packages range between W35,000 ($32.23) and W80,000 ($73.67) per person.

South Korea Divorce Consultants

South Korea DivorceFresh out of college and looking for that first job? There’s a new one making the hot new 100 according to the Ministry of Employment and Labor – South Korean Divorce Consultant or Divorce Planner. According to the Chosun Ilbo, “Divorce consultancy firms offer a ‘one-stop’ service, with a comprehensive paperwork service package priced at around W1 million to W1.5 million (US$1=W1,118), excluding legal fees.”

The United States has their wedding planners, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and the ever-increasing divorce parties. The notion of a divorce consultant (divorce planner) isn’t that far-fetched. Anyone who has gone through the process will tell you how heart wrenching and difficult it is. Currently, South Korea divorce rates are ticking up at a pace of 4.4% or more over last year, so there’s certainly room for industry growth.

South Korea divorce consultants do a lot more than just help with paperwork, too. They “recommend how to best obtain evidence of spousal infidelity, referring customers to digital forensics experts who are able to restore data from a car’s black box or the husband or wife’s computer. They also help their clients find places to live and work, and can even serve as matchmakers for those who want to find a new love interest.” (Chosun Ilbo) Personally, that seems like a redundant service, since any divorce attorney worth their salary should be providing the bulk of those services during the divorce.

However, in a country with a stigma against seeing counseling to deal with such emotional issues, perhaps this service fulfills that need.

Gay Marriage in Barzil

marriage equality - gay marriage

Saw this today:

Brazilian notary publics must register same-sex civil unions as marriages if the couple requests it, the country’s National Council of Justice said Tuesday.

Slowly but surely, more countries are adopting broadening equal rights. It’s the right thing to do in the 21st century and a shame that it’s taken this long. You can read more here. I’ve long been a proponent of equal rights when it comes to marriage because today, it is more of a secular union than religious. Under those circumstances, denying same-sex couples the right to wed is discriminatory. It’s something that should have been abandoned 50 years ago. On the religious side of the coin, if the couple’s church approves of the marriage, then who has the right to stand in their way? Doing so would impede their religious freedom. Giving one religious arm absolute authority over what is an appropriate marriage is never a good idea.

Talking Races

Podcast - Korea - QiRanger - TravelThe QiRanger Adventures Podcast: S2E13
Release Date: 2012-04-29

1) Welcome and News

  •     Extended video podcast – Travel Talk on the website
  •     Korean Association of Church Communication (RE: Lady Gaga): “Our Christian community needs concerted action to stop young people from being infected with homosexuality and pornography.”
  •     The Sea of Japan/East Sea Debate
  •     The 4-year-old TSA Patdown
  •     Romney on Equal Pay – “Does Gov. Romney support the Lilly Ledbetter Act?”
  •     Appearing on Arirang Radio’s Catch the Wave again next month
  •     Listening Live

2) Content RE<Wind

3) QOTW: Lisa Tintin wrote: “What’s the best thing about being a podcast-blogger?”

Send your questions to podcast@qiranger.com or @qiranger on twitter. I’ll answer them in the podcast or make a personal video response.

4) Travel Talk: This week I sit down and talk with the original travel dude, Melvin Böcher. You can find him at TravelDudes.org and @TravelDudes on Twitter.

Click the player to listen to the interview:


5) Thank you very much for listening. If you have a question or a comment, please send an email to podcast@qiranger.com or message me on twitter @qiranger. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, I hope you’ll share it with your friends so we can grow our community. Until next time, may the road always rise to meet your feet and the wind be always at your back. Have a great day and I will talk to you soon.

Headless Chickens

Yesterday was a crazy day. Jo and I work up at 5am to make sure we could fit everything in… and that pre-planning really paid off!

Our first stop of the US Embassy to certify the documents needed by the Korean Government for to be married here. There are only a few, but it takes some time (and $90) to get the permission needed by Uncle Sam. Since we didn’t know how long this trip was going to take, I brought along my bag in case I’d have to go straight to school from Seoul. That made going through security a bit of a pain.

You see they don’t like cameras, computers, phones, or bluetooth mouses to go inside. Portable hard drives were okay (go figure).

Once inside, we took our number and waited. It was a good thing we got there early (Number 6 FTW!), for as we were waiting a ton of people showed up. Eventually I handed in my paperwork, paid my fees, and had a quick interview. Then I got everything back and was blessed by the good old USA to go and get hitched.

Jo and I had planned on this taking all day, but since it took just over an hour, we decided to head on over to her Embassy and get her paperwork certified. The bus ride was short and we arrived about 30 minutes later. We went inside, took our number, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After about 30 minutes, I prodded Jo to go ask to see when the person handling the marriage documents was going to come out (since we were first in line). They finally did and we handed in our stuff, paid our money, and waited some more.

It took a while, but we finally got her documents certified. It was a good thing too, since we had to book-it back to Dongtan for work.

As it stands now, we’re all set for the wedding. Probably the more interesting thing (for me) was the news cast. The announcer was doing a retro 1970s voice. It cracked me up!

What have y’all been up to?

Actions Speak Louder Than Words…

First, there was a racist incident in Australia… But the United States has always got to “one-up” everyone. Yesterday a news story broke about a Louisiana Justice of the Peace failing to grant a Marriage License to an interracial couple.

Justice of the Peace, Keith Bardwell cited that he did not grant the license out of concern the couple might face should they have children. He went on to tell the Associated Press:

I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.

To begin with, I was shocked that a public servant performed this in 2009. I was further floored that Bardwell has failed to grant Marriages Licenses to four other couples in his 2.5 years as a Justice of the Peace. Sure, most Justices of the Peace are elected or appointed, and are not required to have formal legal training, but to hold an office and discriminate to blatantly is astounding. To see that he was not aware of the Loving decision astounds me, since it clearly applied:

Loving v. Virginia: a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia’s anti-miscengeneation statue unconstitutional, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

His response and justification indicates that his racial bias is so rooted in his character, that rational and critical thinking skills are no where to be found in his person. How can anyone in their right mind claim not to be racist while uttering, “I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way?” I especially like the fact that he thought he wasn’t racist because he allows black people to use his bathroom.

What a moron. For the record, if you have to justify why you did something was not racist… it was. If you have to justify your actions and tell people you’re not racists… you are.

This individual needs to be removed from office and face strict civil penalties for violating the terms of office and restricting protected civil rights. I hope those involved take him to task and severe penalties are handed down. There is no excuse for this sort of thing to exist in 2009, especially in the United States where the matter was settled over 40 years ago.

I will admit that I am a little biased on this issue. I grew up in Texas and I clearly remember one of the water fountains in my school having a faded “COLORED” stamp on it. Even now, when I think back to those days, a sense of rage builds up in me, wanting to stamp out such blind and irrelevant hatred. The feelings are amplified by the fact that I am also in an interracial relationship and will be marrying soon. If anyone told me that I couldn’t marry Jo, I’d blow a gasket. In this time and age, there isn’t any room for racism. It needs to be stamped out at every level.

Once again, people get it wrong…

Deep in Thought

Deep in Thought

As time moves forward, I’m always amazed when someone puts forth an argument that is so irrational it utterly destroys their credibility. Case in point – the recent decision of Connecticut to allow same-sex marriages. Please let me state that I fully support this decision and what I find laughable is posted in an article printed in the New York Times surrounding some of the testimony opposing such unions.

Patricia and Wesley Galloway testified before the court that while they were religious, they opposed the establishment of same-sex marriages because of the following:

It takes a man and a woman to create children and thus create a family.

The article went on to “discuss” how this couple was trying to use biology to deter the court from lifting the ban on same-sex marriage. From the start their argument was flawed on two counts. Please let me explain.

First, the Galloways claim that it takes a man and a woman to create children. This is true (although with since an actual physical union is no longer needed). The statement also continues to infer that children are the root of marriage and family. Thus, by their reasoning, the chain of events is this: Man meets women, they decide get married and have children.

Now there is countless data to support both sides of arguments on the psychological health of single-parent raised children, heterosexually-parented raised children, and homosexually-parented children. That information isn’t needed. What I find flawed is that this 60-year-old, childless couple, is advocating the reason to marry is to have and raise children.

This is something I do agree with. I’ve stated before that the term marriage is a religious one used to define a union between a man and a woman with the intent to raise a family. The Galloways got that part right; however, the idea does not translate into secular circles because of it’s implications. Using this narrow definition of religious marriage, same-sex and hetero-sexual couples that do not intend to have children would both be excluded from marriage. Since the Galloways have no children, they do not meet the standards of a religious marriage.

A Video...

A Video...

This heightens the second flaw in their argument. The secularity of marriage today. Beginning in the 1500s, governments have intruded where Clergy once governed in the pursuit of money. The reason today governments have requirements on who can and cannot marry is simply to collect, taxes, establish rights of property transfer, and accountability of debt. Governments profess to be concerned about “the family,” but their actions show something entirely else.

Given this, governments need to “come clean” and act above board and eliminate the term marriage from their statutes. The term Civil Union best suits the joining of two adults for the purpose of tax collection, property disbursement, and debt allocation. Let marriage return to the domain of the clergy.

The Galloways failed to recognize this relationship, thus eliminating their argument on a second front.

Homosexual news…

I seem to be on this topic a lot lately. But what can I say? I think when people are demonized for loving another adult… well, it makes me wonder why those attacking think they have their stuff so together.

Today I read this story. Here are a couple of quotes:

“This is an abomination that is totally unacceptable by God who formed us not to function in that way,” says Patrick Kuchio, a popular preacher at Parklands Pentecostal Church.

“Amongst traditional Kenyan people, it was unheard of,” says Pastor Kuchio. He believes the practice must have been imported into Kenya.

Imported? What the heck is this guy thinking? He makes homosexuality sound like something you need to get cleared through customs. Why is it so many pastors spout hate towards homosexuals and then out of they same mouth they quote:

… “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 28-31 (NIV)

The two are not congruent. People need to get over trying to rule everyone else’s lives and focus on their own.

In other news… I recently posted my thoughts on marriage. Well the California Supreme Court is set to announce it’s decision today on same-sex marriage. I hope they make the right call, as it pertains to US Law.


The topic of marriage has been on my mind for some time. Not because of anything going on in my personal life, but rather because of the election season that is approaching.

During the last set of national elections, several states passed various laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. This, quite frankly pissed me off. Not only because the federal government got in the way by passing the Defense of Marriage Act. But the US Government wasn’t the first to stick it’s nose in where it didn’t belong.

The practice dates back to the mid-1500s with the The Marriage Ordinance of Geneva and later with the Marriage Act of 1753 in the UK. These two laws essentially required the state to bless all marriages. While there are legal ramifications of doing this (ensuring lines of property succession, etc.), it creates an interesting problem no one seems to want to discuss.

There are two main arguments against same-sex marriages: 1) It violates religious doctrine and 2) it’s bad for families. Please allow me to address the second point first and work backwards.

The notion that a same-sex marriage is bad for the American Family is absurd. Today, the American family is in shambles and has nothing to do with sex. Let’s take a quick look at some stats from 2002:

  • Percentage of population that is married: 59%
  • Percentage of population that has never married: 24%
  • Median age at first divorce: Males: 30.5, Females: 29

Even with those stats, the old notion that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce holds true. If it’s true that only half of all male-female marriages succeed, that doesn’t seem to indicate a vary stable family environment. In addition, research shows that same-sex relationships are prone to the same problems as heterosexual couples.

Another alarming statistic is the disproportionate number of issues related to the endangerment of children in heterosexual couples. When looking at the data, there are far less proportionate calls to Child Protective Services when comparing households steered by same-sex couples.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter, religion. The US is fond of saying that it’s a Christian Nation, when in fact, it is a secular society. While the founding fathers may have held various Christian values close to their hearts, the US has embraced the First Amendment and become secular. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is where I see a problem with how marriage is carried out in the US. Since any clergy member can sanctify a marriage and make it legally binding, with or without a marriage license, it appears that the litmus test for marriage still resides within the religious orders. This is especially evident since members of the Universal Life Church are legally able to perform marriages after a 5-minute online ordination.

Since marriage started in the religious sector, it should stay there.

If government persists in legislating who can and cannot marry, then they are writing religious policy – something the First Amendment prohibits. Under the current laws allowing clergy the ability to marry individuals, anyone they deem suitable for a union should be given equal status regardless of sexual orientation.

This means that if an ordained minister feels two men or two women are emotionally prepared for a union, the marriage can then be performed and should be recognized as no different than a heterosexual couple. Failing to do so would classify some religions as “approved” and others as not being so. Since The Church of Scientology is offered protective status, the US government must stop this double standard approach.

The only legal option is to prohibit all clergy from performing recognized marriages. In short, if someone is married by “the church” there is no legal standing. A separate, binding service would need to be performed to create a civil union. This would allow states to dictate who can receive benefits, etc. and be lawful under the First Amendment. However, as long as clergy are allowed to perform marriages, any prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.