Monday, June 24, 2013

Couple Rings In Korea

In Korea when to people are in a relationship they will often do things like wear matching shirts, wear matching wrist bands, buy matching phone cases, set matching ringtones, wear matching shoes. My understanding of this custom is that it is all about boasting to the world "we are together" and ,I am guessing, was probably started because it is frowned upon to show too much affection in public. 

Couple rings are an extension of the "look at us, we are together" custom and shouldn't be throught of as engagement rings. That said, because Jihyeon and I are in a mixed custom relationship we treating the couple rings as engagement rings. Traditionally in western culture only the woman wears an engagement ring. According to my research Korean couples buy a couple ring after they have been together for 100 days. 

Initially I was tasked with choosing and buying a set of rings all by myself which resulted in a severe spike in my stress level. Like 99% of men on earth, I know nothing about jewelry. In Australia it would be difficult enough, but in Korea it seemed impossible. I couldn't speak the language, I didn't know who was a credible
retailer, I didn't know how much I should spend or even what design I should get. Luckily for me Jihyeon had a change of heart after talking with a coworker who convinced her that sending me out into the wild to buy something was a bad idea. 

One Saturday morning we headed to a department store in Daejeon that had been recommended to me by some other teachers at school. They had a whole floor dedicated to jewelry with a multitude of different designs and price points. Jihyeon and I set about visiting every store to see what designs they had and what the prices were. 

Jihyeon found something she liked at the first store but I insisted that we spend the time to look at the other stores. I mean, what is the chance that the first thing she looked at was exactly what she wanted? We spent the next hour visiting all the stores only to find ourselves back at the first store. 

We had another closer look at the first rings we looked at and had our sizes measured and placed an order. In Korea if you pay with cash you can often get a 10% discount. I don't understand the intricacies, but the government is trying to encourage people to use cash instead of plastic. Maybe it has something to do with the bad credit card debt many people ran up soon after plastic fantastic was introduced to the country. In any case, I made my way to an ATM to withdraw the money. The machine was out of 50,000 won bills (the largest denomination) so spat out a very large wad of 10,000won bills. The ATM took a bloody long time to count the money. I thought it was going to run out. Not wanting to walk through the department store waving a huge wad of cash about, I stuffed it in my pocket and made my way back to the jewlery counter. Once I handed over the cash, we were told that the rings would be available in 10 days.


  1. Hi ! I already knew about couple rings. Actually, my boyfriend is korean. We never met yet but it will soon be two years that we are a long distance couple. I red many pages about Korean couple rings but no one answered my question.
    I would like to send him a couple ring for our 2years anniversary. BUT, the problem is that, i don't know if a couple ring can be buyed or sent by the girl. Is it good if it's the girl who buy couple ring for them both ?
    I keep telling myself that it's a cute way to tell him my love but i don't know if it's good that i buy it myself. In fact, he doesn't know about it. I didn't told him i want to buy couple ring. It must be a surprise. Is it okay if that's not a decision took by us two ? Thank you for answering !!!!

  2. Wow, you have been together for 2 years but never met him? How did you meet? What country are you from? Regarding the couple ring, there is no right or wrong answer. I don't think it needs to be a surprise. I think you need to talk to him about it and check you are both on the same page.

    If you want to follow Korean tradition then the time to exchange couple rings has long since passed. There is nothing wrong with exchanging couple rings now, but what I mean is don't worry about the Korean way and just do what is right for the two of you and the type of relationship you have.