So you want to date a Korean guy…

It’s suddenly become the dream of a lot of young women in America and Europe to date a Korean guy. I suppose it’s nice to see that fetishizing another race isn’t just for men anymore. Equality? (Author’s Note 5/29: I’d like to add that this line was intended as a joke, obviously fetishizing people is wrong~ but some readers thought I was promoting the fetishized view of  Korean men. That is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do here.) This post is mainly directed at western women seeking relationships with Korean guys (a trend that is on the rise lately) because that is something I have experience with.

When looking through the most common search terms people use to find my blog, one thing became clear: y’all are thirsty.

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But seriously, I get it. If you find a particular set of traits common to a particular group to be attractive, you might be drawn to people of that group. If you’re interested in the culture and media from that country, you also might want to get to know the people from that country. This post is geared towards people looking to meet someone while they’re in Korea, but of course there are Korean communities around the world and you may meet Korean friends and more-than-friends in your home country as well. Just remember, life is not a Kdrama and getting to know people for who they are is more important than relying on stereotypes and preconceptions.

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Seoul Forest is a beautiful spot to have a date….

Meeting someone:

I’m going to guess that you’ve dated in your home country or at least know how dating works. Just like in any country, you’ve got to get out there and meet people. How and where you meet them will probably have some bearing on what kind of relationship you’ll have. So you should think about what your goal is when you are looking at places to go.

Do you want to just have a quick, fun fling? Probably go to a bar or club in one of the college districts or a foreign heavy district. Many young Koreans go to the foreign district to mingle with non-Koreans. Most of these don’t turn into serious relationships, but that can happen of course. That’s the exception though, not the rule.

Are you looking for something more about companionship with the potential of romance? Go to a language or culture exchange. Maybe a bilingual community event, a class, or religious group. These are all great places to start getting to know people with similar interests. Get your coworkers or classmates to set you up with someone or go to events with friends of friends. You might meet some interesting people along the way, or even meet someone special.

What if you are really in the market for serious commitment? Maybe you’ve lived in Korea for a couple of years or have studied Korean and are getting fluent in the language and culture. You can see yourself settled down long term with a Korean guy and hopefully aren’t just after a spouse visa. Well, for serious, marriage-focused dating you can start arranging blind dates. If you have some Korean friends, especially ones who are a bit older and already married, they can probably help set you up with some eligible bachelors (this kind of date is called “sogaeting”). You can also go through a more formal process of basically exchanging resumes with the family ahead of time (set up through acquaintances, relatives, or professional matchmakers) to see if they are marriage material before agreeing to meet (called matsun). Non-Koreans very rarely participate in this sort of dating. If you do meet and agree to date the person in the case of matsun, expect to be getting married within six months. Matsun is not for casual dating, it’s all about getting hitched.

 

 

 

Mechanics of Korean dating

So you’ve met someone… that’s exciting. What can you expect from dating in Korea? Well, like most countries, going out for food and activities is how most dating works. Unlike some other countries, however, it’s really uncommon for people to live away from their parents unless they are married. So curling up on the couch to watch a movie at their place is probably not going to happen.

Big cities in Korea have solutions to that space issue with plenty of  DVD rooms and “room cafes” where you can rent out a little room with a couch or comfy floor mats, coffee table, and tv to give the same effect. Most of these places also offer snacks (even beer), and table games for you and your date to enjoy. There are plenty of arcades, shopping malls, and cafes where you can spend your evening or even a whole Saturday.

It’s very common for boyfriends to perform little services for their girlfriends such as holding her bag while they’re out or treating her to little gifts. And many girls in Korea put a lot of effort into their appearance for a date, wearing a full face of makeup and a cute outfit. Keep in mind that PDA is still a bit taboo in Korea, so giving your boyfriend a big kiss on the train might get you complaints from other riders.

In the end though, be yourself. He should know what he signed up for.

Getting serious… or not?

As in any relationship, you might question how serious your significant other’s intentions are. Just like anywhere, if they start having you spend time with important people in their life, it’s a good sign. They might have you meet or go on double dates with their friends if they see this being a long term relationship. Most importantly, if they have marriage on their minds, they will probably take the steps to introduce you to their parents.

Parental approval is very important to most young Koreans. If their parents have strong objections to their boyfriend or girlfriend, that can be a deal breaker for many. For some parents, the thought of their child being with a non-Korean is enough for them to say ‘no’ before even meeting you. Some families have the opposite reaction and are absolutely delighted at the prospect of welcoming someone from another country into the family, so it really depends on the person. For extra points, make sure you can speak to them a little in Korean when you meet them. It shows that you respect their culture and are interesting in being a part of their family. Also, bring a gift. Big boxes of fruit are always crowd pleasers at Korean family gatherings.

It goes both ways

Remember that while you might be thinking about Korean guys according to stereotypes, they have some stereotypes in mind when it comes to you. Fetishizing goes both ways, as do misconceptions. Yes, there are plenty of stereotypes about western women. Some are negative (we’re slutty, fat, lacking in femininity, too overbearing, etc), some are positive (we’re sexy, easy-going, confident, fun). There are even some Korean guys who see it as a status symbol to have casual sex with white women (known as “riding the white horse”) or go to clubs that exclusively hire “exotic” looking black women as servers.

It also goes both ways in the sense that some Korean guys want to date foreign women because maybe they’ve lived abroad, don’t like Korean dating conventions, or just happen to find you to be an attractive, interesting woman. And if you’re not the walking doll that is the Korean beauty standard, don’t sweat it. No doubt there are beauty standards in your country too. People who don’t fit that mold often find love. It’s true that in Korea cosmetics and plastic surgery are kind of rampant, so more people make themselves fit that ideal, but for people who want something really different, you might be a breath of fresh air.

I hate when girls tell me that they are not thin/pale/pretty enough to date a Korean guy. That’s patently ridiculous. You’re assuming that every single Korean guy wants the exact same thing. That tells me that you might be relying on stereotypes instead of getting to know people as individuals. I know black, white, and hispanic women (many of whom were also thicker, curvy women) who dated and in some cases married Korean men.

“But Miss Blogger Lady, I don’t live in Korea and probably won’t be able to vacation there for more than a week, if at all,” you might be telling me. “How can I meet Korean people in my home country?” Well, where you live might make this more or less possible. Search for Korean supermarkets in your hometown or the closest bigger city: that is a good way to find where there is a large community of Korean people. Look at nearby universities that have large foreign student programs. Lyon, France had a surprisingly large community of Korean students studying there. Again, check out clubs, language exchanges, or even just cafes in those areas to meet people.

Friends who have or have had Korean significant others, care to chime in? How did you meet your partner and what advice do you have for interested parties?

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17 Comments

  1. I have also noticed how many people want to date Koreans and even vice versa at university here. But there are definitely some cultural differences and this post is very helpful for that! Thank you 🙂

  2. I don’t think one has to go far to find their Korean boyfriend or girlfriend. When I travel, I feel like I encounter Korean people everywhere, and sure they could be travelers like me but don’t underestimate the powers of English-speaking country or English-speaking schools like International schools or universities to attract your Korean mate. It’s true though that Drama/K-pop/Movie stereotypes need to be held in far far back in your head and are terrible representations of Koreans in general.

    1. I suppose there are some things that dramas can teach you about the culture in general, but your life and relationship is probably not going to be anything like that (thank goodness!). TV isn’t really meant to be realistic. But yeah, Korean communities are everywhere.

  3. I hate that question when I get it. How did you get your Korean husband? How did you find a Korean musician? I don’t know, it comes off as I went out fishing for him, put him in my basket and took him home and people want to know the mechanics of that. If I tell you how I met my husband and our dating life, will that help you get a Korean guy? No.

    1. Well exactly! People think there has to be some trick to “getting” Korean. Sometimes I think they’re imaging them only as characters from shows instead of in the context of their everyday life real people.

  4. lol I am glad some one actually wrote a post about it.. (although I am not looking for a korean guy 😀 ) but these days foreigner girls are so obsessed with korean boys.. and tbh i really dont believe on the kind of dress to wear while seeing korean girls or boys.. to me thats useless… if you have the guts and confidence to impress other person, you can nail it without the dress code 🙂

    1. Yes, being self-confident is important for any healthy relationship. And while it’s good to adapt to Korean culture, but I think many girls make the mistake of thinking they have to become Korean, erasing aspects of themselves that they think don’t fit.
      That’s not healthy. And besides if he wants a traditional Korean girl, there are millions of those for him to choose from so…. Never try to warp yourself for a boy or girl you like.

  5. It isn’t surprising to me that those types of posts are most sought after. Many women are going crazy for Korean men, thinking they are sweet and watching videos from Koreaboo and Kpop/dramas.

    1. I suppose if you’ve never met anyone from Korea, that can be the only thing you know about the culture and people. It takes some real life experience to sort out fact from fiction I guess! I hope this post will help some young ladies understand the reality might be different from the dramas they’ve seen

  6. Hummm… I don’t really understand the hype about dating a Korean guy. Actually, I think fetish
    or obsession with anything or any culture is kinda unhealthy. And ultimately, if you’re going for someone because you think that men from that culture are exceptionally good-looking, well, then there are the cultural differences to keep in mind. Differences keep things interesting. That’s for sure.

    1. Oh it’s definitely unhealthy, and I try to touch on that. It has to be about the person, not the fantasy for it to work! But I get being attacted to people from other cultures and backgrounds (I mean, I certainly choose a mate quite different from myself). You just got to keep it real.

  7. ohhhh… this is a pain to comment on, lol, sorry! 1. this is going with the bandwagon of unnecessarily fetishizing Korean men, but hey, this is good for blog traffic… 2) Korea is more than an oppa-land.

    1. Well…if you read it fully, the point of this was to introduce a dose of reality and discourage that exact same fetishising.
      I guess you tried your best? But it’s just kind of feeling like you didn’t actually read my post.

    1. I’m sorry, but I felt very mislead by this comment. I was reading everything, but then I got to this. This made me very happy at first, but Oh My Oppa looks like a tour service, not a dating service :(!
      I don’t want a tour guide, I wanted my own personal Oppa TT^TT! Why do I have to pay for my own food using this? Why wouldn’t my Oppa buy me things?!

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