Love transcends language, borders | Metaglossia: The Translation World |

It has been said love needs no translation, but for a Mexican and Korean chef couple, love sometimes needs a dictionary, Google Translate and, of course, body language.

Han Jo-eun, pastry chef of Millennium Seoul Hilton, and Montserrat Pineiro, former executive chef of Hilton Airport Mexico City, met briefly for about three weeks in 2010 and another three weeks in 2011 for a Mexican food promotion event in Seoul. Over the next three years, they developed a relationship through email.

“When I got stuck expressing my feelings in English, I wrote in Korean and she had to use Google Translate to understand them,” said Han.

Han Jo-eun (left) and Monsterrat Pineiro, a Korean and Mexican chef couple, smile at each other on Tuesday at the Millennium Seoul Hilton. (Lee Sang-sup/The Korea Herald)

But language was just a trivial problem in their relationship.

“At first, it was hard to understand his accent, but once I got used to his accent, there was no problem understanding him,” said Pineiro.

“And I was in love. I was burning food thinking about him,” Pineiro said, blushing.

After numerous emails back and forth, the couple got married in January this year and Pineiro is now seven months pregnant.

Now the couple is learning each other’s language to better communicate with each other .

“I enrolled at a Spanish language institute and she is learning Korean really quickly,” said Han.

But still they appreciate a little help from online dictionaries where they can quickly look words up on their smartphones.

“When you don’t know the words, there’s always the dictionary,” said Pineiro.

What concerned Pineiro before she decided to marry Han was not cultural differences or a language barrier, but the relationship between her and her in-laws.

After reading a lot about Mexican and Latin American women married to Korean men having difficulty in relationship with their in-laws, Pineiro said she asked Han, over and over, whether he lived with his family.

“I wanted to make sure if he lives with his family, then I will never get married to him,” said Pineiro.

Raised by a conservative family in the southeast, Han expected his family to be shocked.

“But I pushed my marriage like a storm and got the approval from my family,” said Han, who told his family about his relationship with Pineiro a day before introducing her.

Now that they’ve gotten major life events taken care of in the first half of the year, the couple said proudly, it’s time to relax a little bit and focus on understanding each other.

“Because we have cultural and language differences, we talk to each other a lot. Sometimes we raise our voices over some issues, but we try to be understanding,” said Han.

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