Getting Engaged in Korea: A Guidebook

Having been born and raised in the Philippines and working in Singapore, my girlfriend, Timmy, and I never experienced the four seasons most people living up north or down south experience. With a much-deserved vacation around the corner, Timmy and I thought of the best place to visit and we both agreed Korea is best seen during autumn. We were both excited, most especially Timmy as she always pictured herself giggling behind a backdrop of oranges and reds, a scene only autumn can bring.

It was a big thing for both of us and I just knew that it would be perfect for something more — a marriage proposal. I never fancied my proposal to be public or over the top. Instead, I want it to be intimate and personal, yet still be exhilarating. So we packed our bags and head for a sweet November escape to Korea to experience autumn for the first time. Packed with a luggage full of boots, semi-winter clothes, a ton of courage and a ring in my pocket, I just waited for the perfect timing.

Here is an account of our holiday including how she happily accepted my proposal. Come fly with us ☺

Just a note, this park offers trails to different mountains.

It was raining on our first day and it was really cold. It didn’t stop us from climbing Ulsanbawi though it had an elevation of 873m. As the trail got more complex and back-breaking, we were rewarded with more impressive views. I was hoping to get off to a flying start but rain, kneeling on one knee and wet camera didn’t seem to be the best combination for a proposal. Tomorrow it is then!

It was a beautiful day on our second day. However, I caught a knee pain (aka rheumatism or in layman’s term, getting old lol) from the rain and cold weather. So we decided to take the easiest trail, Gwongeumseong. Most of the trail was via cable car so we were still able to maximize our time while I was nursing my knee. I opt to stay in the cable car while she went to check the peak.

This was obviously not D day.

Documenting this event is really important so I asked her to hold my phone and to record a video of me doing the Gangnam style and then surprise her with the big question. I was not having cold feet but the place was just too crowded and didn’t feel like the right moment.

Plan failed.

The accomplice (Edward) arrived and saved the day! NOT. His arrival was pre-arranged as a back-up plan in the event that I couldn’t execute the proposal on the first few days. He was to be my paparazzi so that when the perfect moment presents itself, we will be able to document it.

As expected, Korea in autumn was simply breathtaking. We went to Jeongbang falls, travelled Udo Island, underwent Lava tubes, saw the museum and climbed the highest mountain but none of these beautiful sceneries gave me a chance to do my plan. I was over-thinking and failed to grasp on the right moment.

It was apparent by then that I was full of excuses. I never thought that it would be that difficult.

We went to see the Gyeongbokgung Palace, It was my last chance to make my dream proposal. Everything was perfect. The camera was set. My friend started pressing the shutter non-stop while we were posing against the largest palace in Korea. It was another beautiful place, theme worthy to pop the question and make her my queen. So I started setting her mood, but after 30 minutes of waiting… voila! I simply grabbed the camera and asked them to call it a day. My friend was disappointed. I was disappointed. I felt another “Fail” stamped across my forehead. My girlfriend still didn’t have any clue. My nerves crept me out. I felt the pressure more.

We were all-packed and ready to go. I had to think of something on the fly. I asked her to have coffee at the roof deck of the hotel. I held her hand. She was confused. I got on my knee. Her eyes welled up with tears even before I got the ring in my pocket. And I then cried, even before I could ask THE question. It was one of the most moving moments of my life. And I finally popped the question.

Without realizing it, all my bottled up emotions came bursting out and I was choked out for words. Everything after that was just a blur of happiness and joy. We hugged and kissed each other, simply soaking in the moment the best we could. I guess even though it wasn’t a picture-perfect proposal, it was the best one I could have ever hoped for.

Of course, aside from the proposal, the heavy trekking and the sceneries, there were some funny stories behind the scenes:

• Timmy was photo bombed by an auntie while shooting her jump shot.

• In the palace, we spent 30 minutes because another photo bombing took place. We waited for the other tourists to leave the spot :)

• I finished I-don’t-know-how-many cups of coffee before proposing. Palpitations, anyone?

In all the things that has happened in Korea, in the years spent on highs and lows, I am just as lucky that Timmy, my soon-to-be-wife, was with me and will be with me for the rest of my life.

Thanks to Edward who flew into Korea and made sure this special moment won’t be missed.

Wedding bells! :p

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