July 29, 2011
This week we try to tackle the issue of dating in Korea, which – quite obviously – we can’t give a lot of insight into, since we’re married to each other and have never dated anyone in Korea. In fact, we’ve never dated anyone Asian ever in our entire lives. So…the best we can do here is to relate the stories we’ve heard from our close friends who have dated people in Korea. We’re lucky to get both perspectives: that is our Korean friends tell us about dating foreigners, and vice-versa. Seeing as this is just us relating anecdotal stories to you, they do not represent Korea as a whole, obviously. We can only offer you their perspectives on the situation.
Anyhow, there are a couple things that we’ve noticed that are commonly related to us by our friends who date Korean people. Primarily:
1) Forget that stupid “Should I call or Shouldn’t I Call” Rule
Garbage! We’re so glad that Korea doesn’t seem to use this rule. From what we’ve been told, if you meet someone and you like them and you exchange numbers, you don’t wait for a few days before you call them again. You just call them THAT NIGHT or the next day. When we asked our Korean friends about this, they told us that this is standard practice, and – in fact – if you don’t call right away then it’s a sign that you’re NOT interested in them. Sounds weird, huh?
But it makes sense! Seriously! Why wait for so long for fear of looking like a creeper or overly keen? It’s true that we operate off a principal of less interest, in which the person who shows less interest has more power in the relationship, as the one being neglected will try to compensate by showing more interest. Then you get the stupid “well if I pretend not to like them then they’ll start to worry and like me back” kind of deal. What silliness!
If you meet someone and like them, call them up. Stop the subtle jockeying for position. And, likewise, if you’re in Korea, prepare to not play that game anymore. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other games to be played, just not ones we’re used to in North America.
2) Send lots of text messages.:
Now, this might not be a golden rule, but just a pattern that we’ve noticed, but our friends who are dating Koreans, or Korean people dating each other, tend to text message their significant others a lot. Like, a lot a lot. It’s hard to have conversations over food because they’re always writing something on their phones. It’s funny how constant question asking and texting doesn’t transfer over well to a North American crowd. Even our Korean friends who moved to North America complained that they freaked out their Asian-American boyfriend by texting too much. Asian-American does not always equal Asian culture. It could just be fluke instances that we’re hearing about but we do see lots of text messaging. Are we wrong here? Again, we’re just trying to observe from an outsider’s perspective.
3) Go public to get private:
Real estate is really expensive here in Korea. Not only do you pay monthly rent, but you have to put down a huge deposit, usually around $10,000 for the deposit, and oftentimes more. You get that deposit back by the end of your lease, mind you, but the problem for many people is simply coming up with the money for the deposit. And so, since many people can’t come up with that kind of money, they stay at home with their parents and families a lot longer than usual. Usually until they go to University, and then they move back in until they get married.
So everyone goes out! Korean Coffee shops are open reallllly late; like until 1am and sometimes later. Which is why you’ll see some of them have really cool atmospheres, perfect for dating, like Cafe Lua. Restaurants and movie theatres, and private DVD rooms are everywhere. On the street behind our apartment, not even the main street, there are three coffee shops on the same small strip of road, not even a three minute walk from one end to the other. And the coffee shops are crammed, most often with couples longingly looking into each others eyes. Also, if you want to go somewhere private for…playing…Yahtzee, then you have love motels that offer you the privacy you need, either by the night or – like a boss – by the hour.
Random side note, love motels are EVERYWHERE in every city in Korea, so if we’re worried about spending money on booking a hotel, don’t do it! Majority of foreigners crash at love motels when visiting friends in other cities! A simple looking/fringed covered parking lot/single tower with small windows/gaudy named = love motel/love hotel. There are usually 2 or 3 in one area so you can compare rates. Some of them are totally amazing, with comfy big beds, hot tubs, and flat screen TVs and others are just simple with a bed and bathroom. For $30-$60 bucks a night, you can’t go wrong! Anyways, we digressed…
Again, this is just our attempt to relate what others have told us. Some people will have terrible stories about their experiences, and some will have great ones, and neither side represents dating in Korea as a whole. If you have any stories about dating you can relate here, either confirming similar experiences, denying them outright, or just adding your own stories, we’d much appreciate it!