I'm white and my MIL is Korean. Hubby is half Korean, so you'd think MIL would have been more open to a white DIL, but no. Right before DH and I met, they were getting together the money to send him over to Korea to introduce him to a bunch of nice Korean women, since he was getting so old (28).
In our case, she isn't my biggest fan because I'm not a good Korean DIL. I don't call every day to just say hi and ask how she is. And that's really the biggest thing. Instead, I do things for her, I offer hubby up to her when she needs help. I spent 1 and a half hours on the phone with the IRS for her, after her husband died. Do you KNOW how hard that is? 90 minutes with the IRS?
And it wasn't good news, either (I thought it would be), instead I had to be the bearer of the news that her husband hadn't filed taxes for 6 years, and the estimated taxes plus interest and fees was going to be upwards of $50K. I found the best way to tell her, I used language I thought she would understand, I did my darndest to help her understand.
And that was after 2 months of giving up my life and dealing with DS running wild at MIL's, to help her get everything in order after FIL died. She didn't miss a pension check, didn't miss a SS check, got every last bill taken care of, notified everyone immediately, and did not buy the 12 certified copies of the death certificiate that the ARRP suggested, so I saved her 9 certified copies' worth (at $18 each that's a lot).
After 2 months of that and 90 minutes with the IRS, literally not 5 minutes after I finished explaining, she asked if I could promise her something. I had been done in by that before, and I refused to promise, had her just ask what she wanted from me. She said she wanted me to call every day, just for 5 minutes, so she could tell her sisters and brother that I treat her like I'm a good Korean DIL.
I burst into tears, told her I coudln't do that, that I prefer to HELP her with actual things not just be superficial, and I left with DS.
She wants a Korean DIL to do the things she can be proud to tell her family about. She *had* a good DIL, and now she doesn't. Sigh, she still does, I still call her insurance company (we share an agent) when she needs that, I make suggestions from afar and so on, but I won't visit her any more and I don't call her. She pushed me too far, after I had sacrificed myself for a woman in mourning and in shock.
I do have a bit of extra favor in her eyes, though, since I managed to produce the exalted grandSON.
And even though he didn't get a "good nose" (she used to pinch hubby's nose as an infant to make it more "white"), he manages to look like her in face shape and cheeks, but he has paler skin (that tans!) and red hair, with amber eyes. So he is very favored, even though he's far naughtier than her granddaughters (who are older).
The situation is also complicated by the fact that hubby is the second son (middle child), BUT the oldest boy was from a different father AND the oldest boy is gay. (talk about being booted from the family...took 5 years for MIL to let him back in her life after he was outed by an immediately-became-ex boyfriend) And she refuses to tell her family in Seoul and Busan. So there are less pressures put on DH b/c he's not the oldest boy, but there are extra pressures put on him b/c he's the continuation of the line (BIL isn't interested in children) and he's the only bio-boy of FIL.
It's all very confusing.
It's interesting, b/c I do think that her family back in Korea is more open than she is. I think it's similar to, and forgive what sounds superficial and just read with an open mind, Irish pubs in the USA. Traditional Irish pubs in America are typically opened by people who came from Ireland decades ago. So they have hearty, non-veg, not-so-good, food. But a pub IN Ireland is quite different! I found tons of veggie food, really good food, in Ireland at your most typical pub. The Irish pub owners in the States have gotten stuck in the past.
So I think that in my case, MIL is stuck in the way it was when SHE left Korea. I don't think her siblings care if I call every day. I think they care that I help her when she needs help, that I care for my son in a very traditionally Korean way (nursing, carrying, wearing, family bed), and that I'm kind to them when they visit.
So I think with my MIL it's a combo of older Korean values that have gotten stuck in the individual known as MIL.