The clock is ticking. I went to Gwangju with Eun Jung yesterday. There were no movies playing that either of us wanted to see, so we went to a video room (kind of like a combination video store/miniature movie theatre for two people... good for dates). She picked out a not-particularly-interesting romance movie. I can't even remember the name. It doesn't matter, because halfway through the movie, she rolled over on the sort of inclined couch/bed/chair thing that video rooms have and started kissing me. It's the first time we've kissed (aside from one quick peck she gave me a while back), and she was pretty enthusiastic about it.

Here's the scary part, though. After that, we went for dinner, then to a bar to drink some beer... but on our way to a second bar, she initiated this conversation (all in Korean).

Her: I have to ask you a question.

Me: Okay.

Her: Are you going to stay single, or get married?

Me: I'd like to get married, eventually.

Her: When?

Me: Two, three, four... maybe five years?

Her: I can't wait that long.

(At this point we arrive at The Blue Monkey... to stall for time, I tell her I'm going to the bathroom, and tell her to get a table and I'll be with her in a second.)

Me (joining her at the table): Did I hear you right? You said you can't wait two years or more to get married?

Her: Yes. I want to marry you as soon as possible.

Me: I thought you said (earlier) that you want to get married at 27. (she's 23 now)

Her: I said 27 at the latest. In Korea, if I'm not married by then, I'll never find a husband.

Me: I think it's a bad idea for two people to get married if they haven't known each other for at least a year. If a man and a woman meet and then get married right away, quite often, 6 months later, they change their mind and realize they've made a mistake.

Her: I know. One year is okay, but not much more than that. If we're going to be together, I want to marry you after a year or so.

Me: I'm going to have to think about this. I love you, and I guess I'm old enough that I'm ready to get married, and I want to live in Korea... but I don't want to make a mistake.

So basically, because she's scared of being a lonely old maid forever, she wants me to either commit or call the whole thing off with enough time to spare that she still has a chance to find someone before she's culturally considered too old to be desireable to potential suitors. I can understand that fear, but it puts me in an awkward spot.

I've felt for a while now that I'm old enough to get married, and marrying a Korean girl and settling down here has been part of the long-term plan... but as a sort of vague plan, involving an abstract girl, some time in the non-specific future. This is a concrete ultimatum, involving a very concrete girl, in the very specific and rather short-term future. As I said to her, I'm going to have to think about this very seriously.

One year, or less, to make a decision. The clock is ticking. Gah!