By Thomas Holloway
Author’s Note: This is the story of a German man who fell in love with a Korean woman. It’s a story about a complicated love, a sad love and an unfulfilled love. Sometimes life itself tells us how complicated life can be…
The story started in January, 2004 in Sydney, Australia. I had just finished my law university in Wuerzburg, a small town in the North of Bavaria, Germany. Suddenly I realized that I forgot all of my school English and that I should do something to learn it again. So I decided to travel to Australia and study English at an English school in Sydney for three months.
In my English class there was a cute woman from Korea. Her English name was Kate. At this time she was 23, and I was 28. I liked her very much at first glance, and she liked me. I wanted to get to know her a bit more so I asked her to walk around with me through the streets of Sydney. This was our one and only date at that time in Australia. We met on Valentine’s Day 2004 and spent a wonderful day together. I realized that she was quite shy but nevertheless I gave her a kiss on the cheek when we had to separate at the end of this lovely day. I also bought her a Valentine’s rose which made her happy.
The following days and weeks I tried to meet her again, but it was impossible. She was much too shy. I could talk with her in the class and in the lesson’s breaks, but that was all. We couldn’t get into any closer contact then. When I said “Good-bye” to her on my last day I was very sad—I thought it was maybe the last time to meet her in this life.
Being back in Germany we tried to keep in contact with her by e-mail. I don’t know why, but it didn’t work well. We wrote some e-mails to each other, but most of them couldn’t reach the other’s country. At that time I had a strange e-mail account with an excessively strong spam filter. Maybe that was the reason, or maybe it was destiny’s wish…
In 2005, Kate visited Europe for a one-month trip. Beforehand she tried to contact me by e-mail, but I couldn’t get her mail, so we couldn’t meet.
It seemed like we almost lost contact with each other.
In 2007, destiny struck again: I got an e-mail from her; it was an e-mail full of love. No, actually it was quite a normal e-mail, but Kate’s style of writing was so lovely and full of emotion that it moved my heart. It was spring 2007. At that time I changed finally to another e-mail provider, and from this time on our contact worked perfectly. We started exchanging e-mails almost once a day. And the mails became closer and more intimate day by day. After a while I fell in love with her, only by the way she was writing cute and emotional e-mails. I think the same thing happend to her. We made plans for meeting each other (and having a future together). But,we had a problem: We both had a partner at that time. At first we thought we could meet each other, but then we didn’t do it. Of course it would be unfair to our partners.
For a long time our contact vanished again…nonetheless I was looking at her photos almost every week. I was sitting in front of my computer screen and watching her big brown eyes, dreaming of meeting her again.
In 2009, we enforced the contact. We tried to make new plans for meeting each other. She had a good plan: At first we’ll visit each other, and if we can get along with each other, she would move to Germany and live together with me by a working-holiday-visa. I moved to Berlin in 2005 and where I’m still working as a lawyer. I’m stuck with German law; I can’t move to another country. But she is in the tourism field (for her it’s easier to live and work in another country). But, again our plan failed. I asked her too many questions about our common future, about her work and life in Seoul, and she misunderstood those questions. She thought I was searching for an excuse not to meet her. This idea was totally wrong, but again we lost contact. She just stopped writing to me.
I almost gave up meeting her again. It made me very sad. I didn’t have a girlfriend anymore, and I wanted to meet her again. Well, it seemed harder than I expected.
Suddenly, in April 2010, she contacted me again. She wrote me that she wanted to have a holiday with her mother and that they wanted to come to Europe and travel around. She asked me if it was possible to meet me, at least for one day.
Of course I was happy and I told her that I really wanted to meet her if she visited Germany. Finally she changed her plan; she didn’t come with her mother (it was too stressfull for mom) and Kate decided to travel to Berlin alone and meet me for a full two weeks! Yes, that was great, I was looking forward to meet her again!
On Monday, the 17th of March 2010 we met, close to midnight, at the Berlin Schoenefeld Airport. We hadn’t seen each other for more than seven years!
And…it happend….we fell in love with each other. The time with her was amzing! She is the most beautiful and sweet woman I ever met on this earth. Her character is full of love, she has truly a heart of gold. We enjoyed our time together in Berlin.
Our plan for the future was that I’d visit her in Seoul in August of 2010. That would be a good time in connection with my work as a lawyer. And maybe later she can come to Berlin with a working-holiday-visa.
Suddenly things changed….when I brought her to the Berlin airport to return home to South Korea, she told me that there was another man in Seoul who wanted to marry her. Of course, I was shocked. She told me that she doesn’t love him, but he is quite nice and her family wanted her to get married soon. Her real age is 29 now, her “Korean age” is 30. Koreans think that this is almost late to get married. She should get married this autumn or next year in spring.
That was quite a bad message during our last minutes we could share together. Nevertheless, I thought that everything would be fine soon—I’ll visit her in Korea, and I’ll introduce myself to her family and we can stay a couple all our life long, I told myself.
Yet after she returned to Korea things got worse. She met this other man and told him that she wouldn’t marry him, that she wanted to go back to Germany and live there. That made the man very angry. He told Kate that she should make a decision within next week, and if she doesn’t chose him, he will give up and won’t ask her again to get married. He loves her, but this was too much for him. He needed a decision from Kate.
There was one more bad point: Kate told me by Skype, that she is afraid of living in Berlin. When we were together, everything seemed to be easy and possible. But, after coming back to Seoul, she suddenly thought that it’s impossible for her to live abroad. She might be lonely, sad, no work, no income, no family, no friends…
Again she stopped writing e-mails to me….I had to do something. By Skype she told me that she has only a few days to make a decision. Her family pushes her very strongly. She has to get married now and there is a rich man she can marry in Seoul. Why wait? Even without loving him she should tell him a “yes.” Being married is more important in Korea than loving each other.
We talked by Skype and she was crying on the phone. Actually she said “Save me from this man!” She really didn’t want to get married with him. Her hope was me. But I had only a few days to make a decision. What should I do? How can I ask a woman to be my wife with knowing her only for a few weeks? I felt helpless. And the other problem: Kate told me that she might feel bad and lonely with me in Berlin. How can I ask her to come to Berlin and live with me? This burden was quite high, because my decision would destroy her old life and open the future for a maybe bad lonely new life in Germany…
I was thinking and talking with my friends for many days. I was desperate. I didn’t want to lose Kate again!
Then I decided to fly to Seoul as soon as possible. My aim was to talk with Kate and her family. I wanted to ask her what she thinks about her future in Berlin, and what kind of worries she has. I wanted to introduce myself to her family. And finally, after everything is clear, I hoped that we’ll find a solution for our common future.
I traveled to Seoul on the 17th of June 2010, only two weeks after Kate left Berlin.
At first everything looked well and Kate was happy to see me again so fast. But I felt strange when her family arranged a big dinner together on the second day on my arrival…I didn’t think anything bad, I thought it’s just a dinner for being together and getting to know each other. I didn’t expect a big meaning….
I was wrong. While we were eating and talking, suddenly a member of Kate’s family said to me: “Thomas, you are here to make an announcement!” At that very moment I realized that they wanted to hear something really important from me. I was shocked. I didn’t expect this so fast. And I couldn’t talk with Kate alone about everything.
I told them everything that they wanted to hear about me and Kate and our future plans. But I felt that something was missing, that this Korean family is not fully happy with what I said.
The day after the dinner Kate behaved strange. At first I couldn’t find out what was wrong. She didn’t talk with me much and when I asked her what was wrong she was crying. For some time I really didn’t know what was going on. I felt uncomfortable and couldn’t understand the full situation. Finally, after a while, I got an e-mail from Kate. I was still in Seoul, but we communicated by e-mail. She was too sad to talk with me. She couldn’t talk because of so many tears. That’s why she was using e-mail. At least she told me the reason for her strange behavior: She and her family were waiting for a proposal! They thought I would ask Kate to become my wife at that very moment when we were eating dinner together. Now I understood! They needed the concrete proposal, and they needed a fixed timetable when we can get married. Otherwise they can’t trust me. I was unable to say this at that time. My arrival in Seoul was too fresh, I couldn’t talk with Kate, and I didn’t expect such an early serious question.
From this time on the full situation was complicated. I felt bad about being pressed into this marriage-thing. I loved Kate, but I wanted to ask her about getting married because of this love, and not because it’s her family’s wish and because of this pressure and pushing.
Actually I felt so bad that I booked an early flight back home to Berlin. This shocked Kate and her family. Now they realized what they did. They suddenly understood that I’m a German man with German cultural ideas, and that I’m not a Korean man. Kate and I talked for a long while and she said that I should stay longer and not go home earlier. I stayed. Despite that wish she told me that we can still be friends. She doesn’t believe in my love anymore. She thinks I don’t love her because I can’t marry her. I tried to explain everything to her from the view of a German man, but she still couldn’t understand my idea.
Now I’m back in Berlin. We had a nice second week in Seoul. But things didn’t change. I couldn’t ask her to be my wife. I felt only strong pressure and I still feel this pressure. Being back in Berlin, Kate almost stopped writing mails to me. She didn’t want to call me by Skype anymore. Now she writes only one sentence to me every two weeks—that’s all. She doesn’t want to have contact with me anymore.
I don’t think she has understood things very well. Maybe she and her family think that all people in the world should think and act like them.
For Germans it’s hard to understand the Korean idea of being married. We get married because we love each other. We have no pressure of getting married, just because we are 30 years or so old. It’s like an old middle-aged idea of man and woman. Like in Muslim countries where the family decides whom we have to marry or not. Why has her family treated her like that? Why didn’t they accept Kate’s own wish? Until today I can’t understand this.
And why did Kate come to Berlin? From the beginning she knew that she had to get married soon and that there is another man waiting. Did she really expect that I can make a decision within only two weeks to marry her? Now I think she shouldn’t have visited me. She shouldn’t have broken my heart. I’m in Berlin now, lonely, I miss her, I still love her…but I don’t know what to do. She doesn’t answer to my e-mails anymore.
Nevertheless I really could enjoy my stay in Seoul. It’s a fascinating nice city, and the inhabitants of Seoul are lovely people. The city is clean and modern, compared with my little dirty Berlin. I’m a hobby photographer and I took more than 600 pictures during my stay in Seoul. I made a homepage with my photos and videos. If you are interested, just have a look and get an impression of how life is in Seoul from the view of a German man. I tried to introduce the everyday life of the Koreans with that page, the Korean food, the Korean restaurants and street food, the subway system, etc. At least this worked well; I found out that Seoul is an interesting destination for tourists. I told all my friends to visit Seoul. Yet here I remain, lonely, I miss Kate, I still love her…but I don’t know what to do.
Thomas is a 35-year-old guy born in a small city in Bavaria, a very traditional part of Germany. He studied law at the University of Wuerzburg and now runs his own law office in Berlin, specializing in private and consumer law. He is a hobby-photographer and likes to publish videos about Berlin on YouTube. Kate was born in a small village in South Korea. Now she is living in Seoul and works as a receptionist at a big hotel in Seoul. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org